Pope's Words After Concert

God «Never Betrays, Never Forgets, Never Leaves Us Alone»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 29, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of an address Benedict XVI gave Friday after a concert offered in his honor by the president of Hungary, Pál Schmitt.

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[The Pope said in Hungarian:]

I wish to address a deferent greeting to the president of the Republic of Hungary, Mr. Pál Schmitt, to his distinguished entourage and to the Hungarian delegation. I thank him for the words he addressed to me and for having offered us, with exquisite courtesy, this splendid concert, on the occasion of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and of the bicentenary of the birth of Ferenc Liszt, a truly European artist.

[He continued in Italian:]

I greet the other authorities, the ambassadors, the various distinguished guests and all of you. A special thank you to the director, the tenor, to the National Philharmonic Orchestra and to the Hungarian National Choral Group for their soaring performance, and to the organizers.

Liszt, one of the major pianists of all times, was a brilliant composer not only of music for the piano, but also of symphonic and sacred music, as we heard.

I would like to propose a thought to you that came to mind upon hearing the first three passages, the Festmarsch zur Goethejubiläumsfeier, la Vallée d’Obermann and l’Ave Maria-Die Glocken von Rom, the first in the re-elaboration and the other two in the pianoforte of Maestro Kotschisch according to the more genuine spirit of Liszt. 

These three compositions made evident all the colors of the orchestra; that is why we were able to hear clearly the particular voice of the various sections that form an orchestral whole: the strings, the wind instruments, the woodwinds, the brass, the percussions — timbres which are very characteristic and diverse. Yet we did not hear a mass of stray sounds: all these orchestral colors expressed harmoniously just one musical plan. And because of this they gave us the beauty and joy of listening, they aroused in us a vast gamut of sentiments: from the joy and festiveness of the march, to the pensiveness of the second piece with a recurring and heartbreaking melody, to the prayerful attitude to which the sorrowful Ave Maria invited us.

One word also on the most beautiful Psalm 13. It dates back to the years that Liszt spent in Tivoli and in Rome. It is the period in which the composer lived his faith in a very intense way, so much so as to produce sacred music almost exclusively. We recall that he received minor orders. The passage we heard gave us an idea of the quality and depth of this faith. It is a Psalm in which the one at prayer finds himself in difficulty; the enemy surrounds him, assails him, and God seems absent, he seems to have forgotten him. And the prayer becomes anguished in face of this situation of abandonment: «Until when, Lord?» the Psalmist repeats four times. «Her, wie lange?» is repeated almost in a hammering way by the tenor and the choir in the passage heard: it is the cry of man and of humanity, which feels the weight of the evil that exists in the world; and Liszt’s music transmitted to us this sense of weight, of anguish. But God does not abandon. The Psalmist knows it and also Liszt, as a man of faith, knows it.

From anguish is born a prayer full of trust that leads to joy: «My heart will exult in your salvation … I will sing to the Lord, who has helped me.» And here Liszt’s music is transformed: tenor, choir and orchestra raise a hymn full of trust in God, who never betrays, never forgets, never leaves us alone. In connection with his Missa Solemnis, Liszt wrote: «I can truly say that I prayed this Mass more than I composed it.» I think we can say the same of this Psalm: The great Hungarian musician prayed it more than he composed it, or better he prayed it before composing it.

[He added in Hungarian:]

I renew my gratitude to the president of the republic, to the director, the tenor, to the Philharmonic Orchestra and to the choir, to all the organizers, for having given us this moment in which our heart was invited to lift itself to the heights of God.

[In Italian:]

May the Lord continue to bless your life. Thank you all.

[Translation by ZENIT]
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