In a concert held yesterday in the Paul VI Hall, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra, lead by conductor Zubin Mehta played in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI and Giorgio Napolitano, president of the Italian Republic. The concert, which was hosted by the Italian Embassy to the Holy See celebrated the 84thanniversary of the Lateran Accords.
The repertoire included "The Force of Destiny", by Giuseppe Verdi, and the "Symphony No. 3 in E flat major", also known as the "Eroica", by Ludwig van Beethoven.
The Holy Father addressed the audience after the concert and noted the choice of "The Force of Destiny" as "a tribute to the great Italian musician in the year we celebrate the 200th anniversary of his birth." Pope Benedict praised Verdi's ability "to grasp life's situations and express them in music, especially the drama of the human soul, in such an immediate, decisive and essential way as is rarely found in the musical scene."
The Pope went on to say that Verdi's piece encompasses the drama of human existence that is "marked by a tragic fate and longing for God, his mercy and his love.
"This is the strength of the Christian, which comes from the death and resurrection of Christ, by the supreme act of a God who entered human history not only with words, but becoming incarnate," the Holy Father said.
Commenting on Beethoven's Third Symphony, Pope Benedict reflected on the great composer's work which expressed through music "the ideal of the hero bearing freedom and equality, who is faced with the choice of resignation or struggle, death or life, surrender or victory."
The Holy Father said that while he would not analyze the symphony's four movements, he gave emphasis to the piece's second movement entitled 'Funeral March' which he described as a "heartfelt meditation on death." The movement, he continued, invites us to reflect on the afterlife, on the infinite."
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On ZENIT's webpage:
For the full text of the Holy Father's address, go to: