Pope's Address After Piano Concert

“Music Can Become Prayer”

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the words Benedict XVI gave Saturday at the end of a concert offered in his honor in Paul VI Hall by the Accademia Pianistica Internazionale di Imola. The Chinese pianist Jin Ju performed music by Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Czerny, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Liszt on pianos from seven different epochs.

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Lord cardinals, dear brothers in the episcopate and priesthood, distinguished officials, dear friends!

We find ourselves here this evening for another concert. Like the one held last week at the Auditorium on the Via della Conciliazione, this one too is of a high artistic level and of great historical value. I offer my cordial greeting to the lord cardinals, the bishops and prelates, the officials, the welcome guests and to all present. I wish to offer a particular greeting to the synod fathers, who have also wished to share together in this moment of serene rest.

In the name of all I express a cordial thanks to the Accademia Pianistica Internazionale “Incontri con il maestro” di Imola [The “Meetings With the Maestro” International Piano Academy of Imola]. I would like to thank and manifest sentiments of lively appreciation above all to the maestro Franco Scala, who founded such a worthy musical institution 20 years ago and continues to direct it with passion and talent. To him also goes my gratitude for the words with which he desired, at the beginning of the evening, to interpret the common sentiments of those present. I offer a courteous thanks to the pianist Jin Ju, who allowed us to savor the expressive power of the fortepiano and the pianoforte, and the emotional charge of the music he performed. Finally, I would like to greet and thank all those who, in different ways, worked together to bring about this concert.

Dear friends, this evening we have made an enthralling and ideal historical journey that followed the evolution of the fortepiano, then the pianoforte, one of the best known musical instruments, held dear by the most famous composers — an instrument capable of offering a not so small scale of harmonic nuances. The seven instruments that were used, which come from the important collection of the Academy in Imola — a collection of more than 100 — constitute in themselves an aesthetic, artistic and historical patrimony, both because they produce those sounds familiar to the men of the past and because they testify to the progress of the craft of piano making, revealing the intuitions and successive improvements of able and incomparable builders.

This concert has, once again, permitted us to taste the beauty of music, a spiritual and therefore universal language, a vehicle so importantly suited to understanding and union between persons and peoples. Music is a part of all cultures and, we might say, accompanies every human experience, from pain to pleasure, from hatred to love, from sadness to joy, from death to life. We see how, over the course of the centuries and millennia, music has always been used to give a form to that which we are not able to speak in words, because it awakens emotions that are difficult to communicate otherwise. So it is not by chance that every civilization has placed such importance and value on music in its various forms and expressions.

Music, great music, gives the spirit repose, awakens profound sentiments and almost naturally invites us to lift up our mind and heart to God in every situation, whether joyous or sad, of human existence. Music can become prayer. Thanks again to those who organized this beautiful evening. Dear friends, I bless you all from the heart.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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