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[orthodox-synod] Re: Tchaikovsky - Divine Liturgy

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  • Rev. John R. Shaw
    Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky is not a simple personage to write about. If he was not a believer , he identified with the Orthodox Church, and obviously knew a
    Message 1 of 3 , Jun 6, 1999
      Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky is not a simple personage to write about. If he
      was "not a believer", he identified with the Orthodox Church, and
      obviously knew a good deal about its traditions. What I suspect is that he
      was a person experiencing an internal struggle, and not always too sure
      where he stood--and that he could say different things, depending on the
      moment and mood. Those who have known "creative geniuses", especially
      musicians, should not find this sort of contradiction too surprising.
      Music does not normally have to be "officially allowed" for use in
      church. Tchaikovsky's compositions have been sung and recorded at the
      Alexander Nevsky Cathedral in Sofia, Bulgaria, as well as other places,
      but they require a fairly large and well-trained choir to execute. I
      remember that his arrangement for the Creed was especially complicated
      (like the man himself!).

      On Sun, 6 Jun 1999, don wiley wrote:

      > Browsinging though Amazon.com the other day, I found some pretty good
      > bargains on "Russian Classical music," among which was a CD of P. I. T.'s
      > composition of the music of the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom.
      >
      > From the booklet which accompanies the CD:
      >
      > "The first public performance took place in Moscow in December 1880, but
      > met with a mixed response. In marked contrast to the plaudits of the music
      > critics, Bishop Ambrosius wrote in a letter to the periodical "Rus" that
      > church music was out of place in a concert hall and did not lend itself to
      > applause, but admitted that the music had intrinsic value: 'Fortunately,
      > the liturgy has found its way into the hands of a gifted composer...After
      > all, the task might have been entrusted to a musician of lesser standing.
      > Perhaps we must brace ourselves for a Holy Mass by some Rosenthal or
      > Rosenblum, which will then be greeted with boos and catcalls'."
      >
      > Peter Ilyich, by his own admission was not a believer.
      >
      > My question:
      >
      > Has Tchaikovsky's music ever been allowed in liturgical worship?
      >
      > Reader Athanasius
      > St Nicholas - Fletcher, North Carolina
      >
      >
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    • don wiley
      Bless! ... Aonther snip from the booklet that came with the CD. P.I.T - writing to his patroness - Nadezhda von Meck (whom he never met) I attend Mass
      Message 2 of 3 , Jun 6, 1999
        Bless!

        At 03:27 PM 6/6/99 -0500, you wrote:
        >Pyotr Ilyitch Tchaikovsky is not a simple personage to write about. If he
        >was "not a believer", he identified with the Orthodox Church, and
        >obviously knew a good deal about its traditions.

        Aonther snip from the booklet that came with the CD.

        P.I.T - writing to his patroness - Nadezhda von Meck (whom he never met)

        "I attend Mass frequently. The liturgy of St John Chrysostom is one of the
        most exalted works of art. Anyone following the liturgy of the Greek
        Orthodox service attentively, trying to comprehend the meaning of each
        ceremony, will be moved to the very depth of his being. I am also very fond
        of evening prayers. There is nothing like entering an ancient church on a
        Satruday, standing in the semi-darkness with the scent of incense wafting
        through the air, lost in deep contemplation to find an answer to those
        perennial questions: wherefore, when, whither, and why? Startled out of my
        pensive mood by the singing of the choir, I abandon myself etnirely to the
        glowing fervour of this enthralling music when the Holy Door opens
        and the tune 'Praise ye the Lord' rings out. This is one of the greatest
        pleasures of my life.

        snip

        "As you can see, I am still bound to the Church by strong ties, but on the
        other hand I have long ceased to believe in the dogma...(sic.) The
        constant inner struggle would be enough to drive me out of my mind were it
        not for music, that great comforter, the most exquisite gift Heaven has
        bestowed on a mankind living in darkness...(sic.) Music is a loyal friend,
        a source of strength and solace, something worth living for."

        ------------------------------------------

        When I was in the high school band, many long years ago, we played the
        1812 Overture. And it was a complete trancription of the whole work, with
        clarinets substituting for violins and violas, tubas for bass fiddles. It
        was probably horrible, but it was a window opening for me. Because for the
        first time, I began to relate to classical music. We had such in my home,
        but not the 1812. So, I bought a record, and read the liner notes. And I
        began to understand how music can tell a story. And the the fact that I
        heard the "Marseilles" made sense - Napoleon, eh?

        Since I have been struggling for Orthodoxy, I understand the bells.

        The cannon fire - well that was easy.

        So, Tchaikovsky claims a space in me. Then, I got sheet music of his
        arrangement of the Trisagion. I played it on the piano, and sang it. I like
        it.

        But, also finding that possibly he was not in the Church....I start to
        wonder. And it brings to mind a recurring question:

        How has the Church judged what is worthy of including in the Divine Services?

        Reader Athanasius
        St Nicholas - Fletcher, North Carolina


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