Nostalgia and Grace, by Carolyn Lee (page 20)
Instruction on the Crisis in Western Music (continued)
When I considered Avatar Adi Da’s Comments about the musical implications of the eighteenth-century crisis, they made perfect sense. The late eighteenth-century was certainly the nadir of Catholic church music, which at that time incorporated thinly disguised dance music, operatic arias with sentimental, religious words, and sumptuous symphonic settings of the main prayers of the Mass. There was some Gregorian Chant, but it was rhythmically tarted up and embellished with a soupy organ accompaniment. All this made a travesty of the liturgy, which was now apparently about pleasing man rather than God.
The more I thought about it, the more obvious it became to me that the music of the post-Bach era (with some exceptions such as the last works of Beethoven) was basically written to please courtly (and sometimes public) audiences, both in and out of church.
Even the genius of Mozart could be frivolous, urbane, witty, grand, or tragic by turns, knowing exactly how to play the emotions of his audience, not only on the operatic stage, but also in the vivid contrasts of his symphonies. Instrumental music of the Mozart and Haydn era became, as Adi Da puts it, opera for instruments.
Mozart himself was of a stature not to condone superficiality. But he was obliged to suffer it. I turned to a volume of his letters to find this despairing note to his father written in 1782:
The golden mean of truth in all things is no longer either known or appreciated. In order to win applause, one must write stuff which is so inane that a coachman could sing it.
Mozart was, as Adi Da Samraj points out, a transitional figure. He was wiser than the mood of his day, but the tide was stronger than he.
As I ponder the story of Western music and take to heart the significance of Avatar Adi Da’s Appearance in our time, I am thrilled by the thought that under His Guidance there a new sacred cultural tradition is coming into being, including sacred music and all the other arts.
For anyone who has felt even for a moment an intuition of His Divine Self-Realization, or been moved to nameless joy and self-forgetting by the sight of His bodily Form, such a vision is entirely possible. There are no bounds to what He will Accomplish in responsive devotees. It is incredible to me that after all my nostalgic musical and religious peregrinations, I have been Given the Gift of participating in the birth of new sacred tradition based on the unique seventh stage Revelation that he Gives, and within His own human lifetime.
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