THE DIVINE MYSTERY PLAY
The Book of Job
The people are assembled on the grass, or on the seats of the outdoor theater in front of the stage. These are early times--the Homeric age, the age of the Sibyllines and the Delphic oracles. It is centuries before the works of Aeschylus and Sophocles will grip the imagination of the Grecian mind. It is a time when the Hebrew mysteries were still a hidden Oracle in the center of the Earth. The conversation ceases, all is quiet. The narrator appears on stage:
"There was a man in the land of Uz, (Uz? this is clearly a fictitious, or rather a far-off place), whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil."
The participants in the drama (the audience in this case) immediately understand that this is a mystery play. It is an initiation into the Hebrew mysteries, and into the creative and complex genius of the Hebrew state of mind. Those who are initiated into the historical and prophetic framework of the play, into the cast of characters and the dialogue between them, may count themselves among those who are also perfect and upright in the eyes of God. (Those in time who cannot understand it may count themselves among those who came unprepared into the secret grove, and as Paul would say centuries later: who heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter).
And there was born unto him Seven sons and Three daughters.
Immediately we realize that this is an initiation into the mysteries of the 10 sefirot of the Tree of Life. It is journey to the ends of the earth, and to the fulness of time. It is a journey back to the garden of Eden, and back to the root of this Mystery which lies far off in the West. But right now the Great Dragon lies beneath them, under foot. It is also a journey into the depths of human consciousness. But more than that. It is a spiritual journey into the very depths of the Mind of God itself. "Come no closer you who fear to enter here."
The narrator continues while the figure of Job takes its place on the stage, and sits with his back to the audience for reasons that the initiated fully understand. Mute characters come and go, messengers from Satan to test Job's soul. The play has begun. Then the earth shakes with the very voice of God, or is it Satan, and so begins the historic dialogue, the ages-long confrontation, the conflict of terms (or so it seems), between God (or is it Satan) and his righteous servant Job. One recent study suggests that God is actually bi-polar, which accounts for the violent mood-swings of Nature, and the drastic interludes between war and peace, always resulting in war again, and the abundance of human suffering in the earth. Carl Jung, in his Answer to Job, says that in the exchange between the two, God realizes at some cosmic level that Job is more righteous than Himself (of course Job does not have the work of Creation before him), and that His ultimate resolution to this conflict is to descend and incarnate Himself in human form, to bear upon Himself the results of His own cruelties and excesses. Thus the sublime but deep and historic implication of the Gospels, which are themselves a continuation of the dramatic tradition in the Hebrew Scriptures, and Job's words: For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth. (Job 19:25)...
And therefore the words:
AGAIN there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord...(Job 2:1).
Enter Job's three friends. They appear on stage from the Right side and the Left. (Job 2:11).
So they sat down with him upon the ground SEVEN days and SEVEN nights, and none spake a word unto him (yet) for they saw that his grief was very great. (2:12, 13).
Then Job begins his first soliloquy. The uninitiated think that he speaking of himself. Those, however, who know the secret intent, and the historic meaning of the drama, know that Job's words are referring to the spirit of Cain in the world, and of all the sons of Darkness who will come to power, and to their own state of perfection in the last days. The script is paraphrasing from Genesis 4:1 (the birth of Cain) when it says:
The narrator: After this opened Job his mouth, and cursed his day.
And Job spoke and said.
Job: Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a manchild conceived.
Let that day be darkness, let not God regard it from above, neither let the light shine upon it...
For now I should have lain still and been quiet, I should have slept: then had I been at rest,
With kings and counselors of the earth, which built desolate places for themselves...
There the wicked cease from troubling, and there the weary be at rest...
For the thing that I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of has come unto me...(Job 3:1-26).
The entire script is a prophecy of the last days. It anticipates the Book of 1 John, as well as the words at 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10. (KJV). It also represents the journey that Job himself must take to his own state of Christ-mindedness. He and God retort, back and forth, psychological paradoxes, pi, Freudian and Jungian analyses, subliminal criticisms, historical theory, archetypal symbols, Cabalistic impressions fly through the vortex that separates their minds, until at last the relationship is made and both are thinking like each other and for each other. Neither relented, and neither gave up on the other.
Nor does Job yield to the misplaced theological reasonings of his three friends. The audience knows that Job is speaking as an oracle. El'i-phaz, Bildad and Zophar are presented as those who are not aware of this. They represent religious literalists everywhere, throughout all times (and most particularly our own), immature in spirit, yet zealous for God, who unwittingly cast the ideas and words they have learned from the prophets back at the prophets themselves. We can sense Job groaning, and see the audience knowingly shaking its head, as they hear El'i-phaz saying:
But now it is come upon thee, and thou faintest; it touchest thee, and thou art troubled...
Remember, I pray thee, whoever perished being innocent? or where were the righteous cut off?
Even as I have seen, they that plow iniquity, and sow wickedness, reap the same...(Job 4:5-8).
The three friends do not (in the roles that they have been given) realize that the words that they are speaking are really directed at themselves, and against the spiritual situation that they have created for themselves among the sons of Darkness in the last days. El'i-phaz seals it when he is made to say: Thine own mouth condemneth thee, and not I: yea thine own lips testify against thee. (Job 15:6).
An airy figure appears on stage, circumambulating Job, and then in a cryptic voice lets the audience in on a vision--a prophecy of the last times--that all may share. Some will understand it, some will not:
Now a thing was secretly brought to me, and mine ear received a little thereof.
In thoughts from the visions of the night, when deep sleep falleth on men.
Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.
Then a spirit passed before my face; the hair of my flesh stood up:
It stood still, but I could not discern the form thereof: an Image was before mine eyes, there was silence, and I heard a voice saying,
Shall mortal man be more just than God? shall a man be more pure than his maker?...(Job 4:12-21).
And so goes the drama, from one scene to another, from one revelation to another. Everyone of the characters, each in their turn, are expounding on secret matters, esoteric precepts, historical concepts, spiritual realities and otherwise seemingly disconnected ideas that are interjected this way and that way into the text, all of which confound the literal and natural mind, but which will nevertheless unfold and be made clear in the last days. Let them who speak, Peter says, speak as the oracles of God. The dramatas personae in the Mystery Play of Job do. It is a marvelous script, and has been a sublime performance. The stage is set for the final act. And God does repent that He had to create the world in this way. There was no other way to do it and still achieve the same spiritual, psychological and emotional results. There was no other way to be created in the Image of God.
In his The Book of Job as a Greek Tragedy, Horace M. Kallen pursues the belief that this ancient book is just that: a drama written in Hebrew form, with Hebrew archetypes rather than Greek, but nevertheless in the Greek spirit of the theatre. He says, "It is now more than half a century since I restored the Book of Job to what I believe was its original form--that of a Greek tragedy in the manner of Euripides:"
"The ancient Jews appear to have known nothing, of themselves, about the theatre or its implications in art and society: all that they did know seems to have derived from the Greeks…
Mr Moulten suggests that this is due to the lack of theatre, and attributes to this lack, the spread of the obvious dramatic impulse among the Jews through other literary forms, until epic, lyric, discourse, are all drawn together…For him, hence, the Book of Job, the bulk of which is in dialogue form, is a complete and integrated composition, 'a dramatic poem framed in an epic life,' but not a drama. For Ganung, Job is an 'epic of the inner life,' but not a drama; for Nathaniel Schmidt it is at most a dialogue after the fashion of Plato, or more generously, of 'Aeschylus in Prometheus Bound,' but not a drama. Most writers, in fact, who assign Job any dramatic character at all, attribute this character to Greek influence, and deny the nativity of dramatic form to Jewish soil"…(pp.3,4).
Kallen's remedy comes in knowing which way to point in this instance to "Jewish soil"--not southwards to Palestine, but Northwards toward the center of Europe--and in knowing how the dramatic arts fell out of this higher state of mind into the Greek way of life to begin with (as did the whole oral tradition), all in humanity's attempt to emulate in their own natural lives the meanings of the mysteries of life itself. Except that the Greeks wound up, not with the reality but with images of it: with stage plays and stage actors, and finally (with marvelous and important exceptions, of course), with an industry full of movie and television stars who, in keeping with the decadence of these times (see 2 Timothy 3:-5), and chasing the bright lights of personal fame and fortune, have become blatantly shallow-minded, frivalous, deceptive, cliched, dirty-mouthed, self-important, violent, unaware, insincere, and for sale, whose chief occupation is more to tend their own sense of themselves in the eyes of the public, than the higher minds of those who feed upon those images. For there are really only two kinds of performing artists, those who want us to go away thinking about them and their careers, and those who want us to go away thinking of other things, of higher things, of things other than themselves and ourselves. (Compare Daniel 12:3)...
"Various writers, actors, musicians, artists, and politicians, for instance,are almost without exception sick people: and what are they suffering from? First of all from an extraordinary opinion of themselves...and then from being prepared to take offense at our lack of understanding and appreciation." P.D. Ouspensky, In Search of the Miracuulous, p.152.
And in our own frenzy to be entertained and a-mused by these kinds of celebrities who want their own names and images enshrined in our brainstems--(We are mad upon our idols...Jeremiah 50:38)--we fail to see that the Dark consortium is now complete. Government and industry, the sports world, the financial world, advertising and the mass media, show business, education, the military and the church, are all now hand in hand. The social policies and agendas of each of these institutions, are those of the others. We fail to see that the children of Darkness have finally been bound in a bundle. (Matthew 13:37-43; Revelation 18:2; Prov.11:21).
If that form of Judaism that was being practiced in Central Europe (as we shall come to see in the following chapters) knew nothing of "the theatre" it was because the world itself was its theatre; its stage the past, the present, and the future:
THEATRE…"One way of telling a story is to act it out. An acted story is called a play. The actors in the play usually speak as they act out their parts. Plays as a rule are given in theatres. The first theatres that we know of were built by the ancient Greeks. Their theatres were not much like ours. They were all outdoors. The seats on a sloping hillside. The stage was a circle of grass. At first the Greek theatres were not used for plays. They were used for songs and dances in honour of the Greek gods." From a Children's Encyclopedia.
"The development of Greek drama stems from the Dithyrambos (8th and 7th centuries B.C.) which was a dance performed around an altar and accompanied by songs honouring the god Dionysus (the god of the Vine...John 15) whose life and deeds were thus glorified.
The next step was the introduction of an individual engaged in dialogue with the chorus, a development which probably originated in Attica, Greece, in the 6th century B.C. The content of this 'play' gradually became enlarged, Demeter and other Greek (notions of the) deities also being honoured…At first the performances took place in the open air (as did every Druid service) within a circle near a temple of the deities being honoured…
It is a miraculous fact that the work of the first dramatist, Aeschylus, shows elements of genuine dramatic plot and of dramatic psychology. Thought and poetic presentation are equally present in near perfection, as if Aeschylus marked not the beginning…but the end of a long literary development." From a Big People's Encyclopedia.
J. M. Roberts, in his Pagan Christs, describing the elements of the Divine Mystery Play as it is presented in the Gospels, says: "As the story stands Jesus partakes with his disciples of the Passover, an evening meal. After a brief dialogue they sing a hymn and proceed in darkness (the long night of the Mystery) to the Mount of Olives (to the Foot of the Mystery…see Zecharaiah 14:4). Nothing is said of what happened or was spoken on the way." (p.49).
"It is not very likely that anyone who went to the grave on the first Easter Sunday met an angel who announced that Jesus had been raised from the dead. Modern exegetes are unanimous in interpreting the angel as a legendary figure, drawn from apocalyptic literature and used as a mouthpiece for the faith of the early church…
But mythical though he is, the angel is the centerpiece of the story, and if we interpret his role properly we will have answered many of the questions that cluster around Jesus' tomb. In contrast to the stone at the tomb, which functions in the Easter drama like a silent Greek choragus who warns us how not to interpret the scene, the angel has a speaking part and he directs us positively to what the Jerusalem church thought was the significance of Jesus' grave. The angel was invented to act as a role model for the listener, and he speaks forth what the community thought was the proper response to the empty tomb, namely the affirmation 'Jesus has been raised.'
Who, then, is this angel? I propose that we take him for what he really is: not a supernatural being who actually appeared in a tomb one Sunday morning, but a dramatic persona who was invented to play a role in the Christian legend. Later readers of the legend who mistake him for a real angel…misunderstood the literary form, and therefore the point of Mark's Gospel. The Easter narrative, both in its pre-Marcan oral form and in the gospel version, is a legend, not a historical account. It is structured in the form of a drama, a religious play, and therefore could be mistaken for a piece of history. However, in order to grasp the story according to its proper literary form--and therefore the way in which it was originally meant to be understood--I propose to treat the text at Mark 16:1-8 explicitly as a drama, which I call Easter at the Tomb. If we look at the Easter legend as a religious play, the 'angel' who appears at the tomb is, in fact, an actor who recites dramatic lines that were created for him, first by the early Jerusalem community…and then by the evangelist Mark.This approach may be strained at points, but it does help clarify how the Easter legend developed from the early oral version to Mark's written account and beyond." The First Coming, by Thomas Sheehan, pp.156,57.
As for Mark, then, during Peter's stay in Rome he wrote an account of the Lord's doings, not, however, declaring all of them, nor yet hinting at the secret ones, but selecting what he thought most useful for increasing the faith of those who were being instructed. But when Peter died a martyr, Mark came over to Alexandria bringing both his own notes and those of Peter, from which he transferred to his former book the things suitable for whatever makes for progress toward knowledge. Thus he composed a more spiritual Gospel for the use of those who were being perfected. Nevertheless, he yet did not divulge the things not to be uttered (2 Corinthians 12:4), nor did he write down the hierophantic teaching of the Lord, but to the stories already written he added yet others and, moreover, brought in certain sayings of which he knew the interpretation would, as a mystagogue, lead the hearers into the innermost sanctuary of the truth hidden by Seven vails. Thus, in sum, he prepared matters, neither grudgingly nor incautiously, in my opinion, and, dying, he left his composition to the church in 1, verso Alexandria, where it is even yet most carefully guarded, being read only to those who are being initiated into the great mysteries. Saint Clement on the Secret Gospel of Mark.
"What are we make of this? The feeding of the Five Thousand and the story of the 153 fishes clearly show that certain New Testament stories were composed as initiatory spiritual allegories. We may call them 'initiatory' for the simple reason that they presuppose a movement from the outer world of manifest form to the inner perspective of genuine insight. They were intended both to entertain and to edify at an outer level, designed to bring enjoyment even to children, yet they were also designed to possess within a deeper, hidden dimension, reflecting the harmonic nature of the cosmic pattern. However, since the unknown scholars who composed these tales, based upon the ancient models, were intentionally crafting vehicles for the transmission of spiritual insight, it is unlikely that they desired their teaching stories ultimately to be read in literal or historical terms. This was recognized by the initiated church father Origen (who was also branded a heretic by the emerging orthodoxy) who complains that 'very many mistakes have been made, because the right method of examining the holy texts has not been discovered by the greater number of readers.'...
'It is important to realize,' Origen wrote, 'that: Wherever the Word found historical events capable of adaptation to these mystic truthes, He made use of them, but concealed the deeper sense from the many; but where in setting forth the sequences of things spiritual there was no actual event related for the sake of the more mystic meaning. Scripture interweaves the imaginative with the historical, sometimes introducing what is utterly impossible, sometimes what is possible but never occurred…
And not only did the Spirit thus deal with the scriptures before the coming of Christ, but, inasmuch as He is the same Spirit, and proceedeth from the One God, He (She) has done the same with the Gospels and the writings of the Apostles; for not even they are purely historical, incidents which never occurred being interwoven in the corporeal sense (with those events that had occurred)...'" Allegory, Initiation, and the Movement Toward Insight, A Study in the New Testament
David E. Aune, in a work entitled Prophecy in Early Christianity, and the Ancient Mediterranean World, explores the use of oracles, not only in the maintenance of the religious life of the Greco-Roman world at that time but in the very formation of Christianity itself. Of those "unknown authors" of the Gospels he says:
"One issue is the problem of the relationship between the prophetic utterances of Christian prophets and the transmission of the sayings of Jesus. Another is concerned with the Christian prophet as a charismatic exegete of the OT scriptures. If it can be demonstrated that Christian prophets, speaking in the name of the risen Jesus, made substantial contributions to the collection of sayings of the earthly Jesus, our knowledge of the transmission of gospel tradition will be immensely enriched. (p.22)...
Divination may be defined as the art or science of interpreting symbolic messages from the gods. Often these symbols are unpredictable or even trivial. Oracles, on the other hand, are messages from the gods in human language, received as statements from a god, usually in response to inquiries. The term 'oracle' is also used for the place where such messages are requested and received.(p.23)...
Many modern NT scholars…theorized that early Christian prophets played a major role in the transmission, formulation, and even the creation of the sayings of Jesus. This process is thought to have occurred primarily during the period (30-70 AD) when the gospel tradition had not yet been written down in the form of the Gospels. According to this view the oracles of Christian prophets, proclaimed in the first person as utterances of the risen Lord, gradually became intermingled with sayings of the historical Jesus…
One of the central assumptions of advocates of the theory that many of the sayings of Jesus in the synoptic gospels originated in early Christian prophetic activity is that Christians made no essential or lasting distinction between sayings of the historical Jesus and post-Easter oracles from the risen Lord. Consequently oracles in the 'I' style, uttered by the risen Lord through prophetic spokesmen gradually became assimilated to collections of sayings stemming from the historical Jesus. Proponents of this view point to the oracles in the Apocalypse of John that are in the form of sayings of the risen Jesus: (Revelation 1:17-20; esp. 3:20; 16:15; 22:12). Revelation 3:20 and 16:15 will serve as examples of these oracles in the 'I' style: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock; If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.' 'Lo, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is he who is awake, keeping his garments That he may not go naked and be seen exposed.' A similar oracle is found in the Odes of Solomon 42:6. 'And I have risen and am among them, And I speak through their mouth.'
These oracle are cited for three reasons: (1) they are clear indications that early Christian prophets did in fact prophecy in the first person of the risen Lord. (2) the form of those sayings is such that could possibly have entered the traditions of the sayings of Jesus, and (3) the authority of such prophetic utterances would ensure their acceptance by Christian communities as sayings of Jesus"…David Aune, (pp.233,34).
"But it is impossible to explore the historical sayings of Jesus without first considering Pauline theology. As Wilson points out, the authors of the gospels were (persons) who had gazed at Jesus' life through Paul's looking glass…Without the Pauline transformation--the resurrection, the ascension into heaven, the command to 'go ye therefore, and teach all nations,'--Jesus' message could have survived only as the equivalent of his contemporary Rabbi Hillel's very similar ethical precepts." Susan Jacoby on A. N. Wilson's Life of Jesus.
Every student of these affairs will begin to see how Paul's gospel itself is a chief source of the later Gospel narratives (Romans 2:16), thus how subtily those Gospel narratives are interwoven with the doctrines and the affairs of the "historic" Paul, or rather this mysterious Paul--whose real name was not Paul, or Saul, at all. (But this is the subject of another chapter). The lesson is that the Jesus (or the Hesus) of the Gospels is not an historical person, but is rather another of the many manifestations of the Lord, but here in the personification of the Suffering Servant, the Sacrificial Victim, the true Pacifist, which of necessity appears in conjunction with the Hebrew warrior archetype, Jehoshua. Which is why it took the early church fifty years or more to work out their spiritual frame of reference. The writers had to bring together into one Corporate state of mind (according to the structure and the dimensions of the Oracle) the truthes of all the other religious traditions that surrounded them; merge them with fitting historical events, as well as with events that they could see--by studying the oracles--would come to pass at the end of the age. All of this had to be assimilated, not only to the revelations of Paul but to the words of the Prophets, which the Gospels would accompany to the end of the age. The Baptist was Jesus, even as he was initiating others into the mystery of Jesus. Paul was Jesus in a most particular way, as we shall see, as were all of the other followers of Christ at that time. When the Romans put Jesus on the Cross it was thousands who were hung there, not just one. Jesus (Hesus) is the central figure in the great cosmic drama of human transformation, one that unites heaven and earth, and reconciles all things on earth to each other; and especially those things that are said to have happened then with the things that shall happen now.
To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been his in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ…(Ephesians 3:9).
The prophets inquired and searched out these things according to the Spirit of Christ THAT WAS IN THEM…(1 Peter 1:12).
Which things we speak, not in words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing spiritual with spiritual (East with West)…(1 Corinthians 2:12,13).
It is not ye that speak but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you... (Matthew 10:20).
And the Highest gave understanding to the Five men, and they wrote the books...(2 Esdras 14:42-47).
They that were of understanding in sayings became also wise themselves and poured forth exquisite parables...(Ecclesiasticus 18:28,29).
The Spirit of the Lord spake by me...(2 Samuel 23:2).
But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into that same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord...(2 Corinthians 3:18).
Of his Fullness we have all received…(John 1:16).
He appeared to them all. He appeared to the great as great, and to the small as small…
To the angels as an angel, and to men as a man…
Some indeed saw him thinking they were seeing themselves. But when he appeared to his disciples in glory on the Mount (see Matthew 17:1-7) he was not small.
He became great but he made his disciples great that they might be able to see him...(The Gospel of Phillip).
As for the parts in which he exists in his own manner and form and greatness, it is possible for them to see him and speak about that which they know of him, since they wear him while he wears them…
He, however, is as he is, incomparable. In order that the Father might receive honour from each one and reveal Himself, even in His ineffability, hidden and invisible, they marvel at Him mentally.
Therefore the greatness of His loftiness consists in the fact that they speak about Him and see Him. He becomes manifest so that He may be hymned because of the abundance of His sweetness and grace.
And just as the admirations of the silence…are mental offspring, so too the dispositions of the Word are spiritual emanations (or Sefiirot on the Tree of Life)...(The Tripartate Tractate, Nag Hammadi Library, p.66).
THE MAN WHO MAINSTREAMED MAHLER
By David Schiff
Musicologists of the future may well term the 1960s the decade of the Beatles and Gustav Mahler: the remarkable unexpected flowering of Liverpudlian lyricism and the re-emergence at the centenary of his birth of a composer many critics saw only as a relic of vanished Vienna. No one understood this historical moment more fully, more passionately and, some might say, more opportunistically than Leonard Bernstein...Bernstein's first recordings of the complete Mahler symphonies...takes listeners back to those days, when the release of the "White Album" and that of Mahler's Seventh Symphony were equally revelatory.
It would be untrue to say that Bernstein put Mahler on the map, though his words sometimes gave that impression...But Bernstein redrew the map with Mahler at dead center, a paradigm shift that has affected our sense of music ever since. Mahler at the center, rather than at the margins, has changed the way every orchestra plans its seasons and the way music historians view the 20th century...
"It was simply too true," he explained, "telling something dreadful to hear." The awful truth was the premonition of three kinds of death: Mahler's own death, the death of tonality and "the death of our society, of our Faustian culture."...
Mahler's postwar reputation in Europe was more mixed, but on the whole, the 1920s were the first Mahler decade. Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer and, especially, William Mengelberg promoted Mahler's legacy, and Mahler's style had a profound, if quite divergent, influence on the two leading composers of theatrical music, Alban Berg and Kurt Weill. Opposition came from the anti-Semitic right, which had derided Mahler's music for its "Yiddish accent" ever since it appeared and which portrayed Mahler as the second coming of Myerbeer, the archvillain of Wagner's hate-filled essay "Judaism and Music."
But you did not have to be a rabid anti-Semite to ignore Mahler. Wilheim Furtwangler and Arturo Toscanini, each for his own reasons, never performed a Mahler symphony. After the Nazis came to power in 1933, Germany and, later, Austria and occupied Europe were systematically made Mahler-free..
.Though Bernstein like to give the impression that he had single-handedly rescued Mahler from oblivion, he had stood on the shoulders of eminent Mahlerians since the early 1940s. He first heard a Mahler symphony when Arthur Rodzinski conducted the Second with the New York Philharmonic in 1943; Bernstein conducted the work in New York and Israel (understand these connections) in 1948, and it became his signature piece; he led it at his 1,000th concert with the New York Philharmonic...
By the time of (Bernstein's) Harvard lectures, he had placed Mahler securely in the repertory, where his music has remained ever since. But now Bernstein used Mahler to make his own prophetic claims. In a verbal aria that sounded more like a High Holy Day sermon than an academic lecture, Bernstein described Mahler's despair itself as a source of hope for rebirth, for the re-emergence of tonality and "musical poetry." The New York Times, November 4, 2001.
91 YEARS AFTER DYING, MAHLER HITS HIS STRIDE
By Stephen Kinzer
BOULDER, Colo.__Classical musicians sometimes apply what they call the hundred-year rule to composers. Only a century after music is composed, they say, can its quality and value truly be appraised. By that standard, the works of Gustav Mahler, who died in 1911, should now be reaching their largest audience. Judging by the hundreds of people who converged on Boulder for a Mahler festival over the weekend, his place in the pantheon of musical genius is assured.
Mahler's music is deeply complex and almost unbearably emotional. Its great themes are despair in the face of tragedy, followed by redemption and determination to live on. That message perplexed his contemporaries in Europe and in the United States, where he spent his final years conducting the New York Philharmonic and the Metropolitan Opera. Many of them were far removed from the depths of human torment and lived in societies where death was often idealized as something ethereal and even beautiful.
Today, after the 20th century's world wars and mass slaughters, Mahler's music touches many more souls than it did when was written...Mr. Oldberg said, "Mahler always said his time would come. Well it has. This is music for our time, and the events of September 11 make him more contemporary than ever. Mahler is the great prophet of the idea that life involves great pain and suffering, but also that after it all, there is resurrection and triumphant affirmation."...
In 1988 the conductor Robert Olson, then based at Boulder, staged the first Mahler Festival here on a budget of $400. The featured musical offering was Mahler's First Symphony. Since then players have performed another of the TEN symphonies each year, and then begun the cycle anew. Many return year after year.
PHILIP GLASS TAKES ON A HISTORY OF THE COSMOS
By Paul Griffiths
One of the most interesting points in Philip Glass's Symphony No. 5...came right at the end. The work was receiving its North American premier at the Brooklyn Academy of Music...with Dennis Russell Davies conducting (along with the Brooklyn Youth Chorus)...and for more than an hour and a half it had been supplying the composer's usual earnest musical rudiments to cloth sacred writings from around the world in a 12-part history of the cosmos.
"When space turned around, the earth heated": di-da-di-da-di-da-di-da. "Let the day perish wherein I was born": di-da-di-da-di-da-di-da. "May I be a protector for those without one": di-da-di-da-di-da-di-da. Always the same oscillation in the orchestra...Given that the symphony in 12 movements, summarized the entirety of creation and human life, the homogeneity that was also found in the musical invention was perplexing. "Dedication of Merit"--the last movement, a Buddhist prayer for peace to emanate from virtue--did not sound so different from "The Creation of Sentient Beings" (the fourth movement) or, indeed, from most of the rest. (Compare 2 Peter 3:1-10).
Moments of difference stood out all the more. One came at the start of the Seventh movement, "Suffering," where the bass soloist took a theme from the Psalms - "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" - and suddenly started to sound as if he meant it...
There was another exceptional passage at the start of a setting from the "Tibetan Book of the Dead" in the 10th movement, "Judgment and Apocalypse." The noisome moral - "That your suffering comes from your own actions; it is not due to anybody else" - was set as a jolly round, which was the only instance of counterpoint in the entire work...
But none of these was the moment that counted. What mattered was that right at the end, with the emphatic conclusion in sight, Mr. Glass drew back, took his music into darker, more chromatic territory, had his choir re-enter in moaning disconsolation, and only then moved toward his close. (And then the critic, deeply unmindful of the meaning of it all, says): Irony is not his strong point, but here it seemed that he was, within his own work, undercutting its preposterous pretensions. The New York Times.
VISIONS OF MUSIC LIKE WHEELS IN SPACE
By Paul Griffiths
FLORENCE, Italy__Centro Tempo Reale, Luciano Berio's center for research, production and training in new music technology, occupies the top floor of the Villa Strozzi, on the west side of the city...Just a half dozen people work there regularly, and though other projects have been achieved, the studio's main concern for the last several years has been with a text from the Bible, one of the visions of Ezekiel:
Hebrews, chapter 12.
"I looked and there were four wheels beside the cherubim. When they moved, they moved in any of the four directions without veering as they moved. Their entire bodies...were full of eyes all around."
Ezekiel's vision of giant, many-eyed wheels, sliding through space in the company of angels, was part of the stimulus for Mr. Berio's "Ofanim" (the Hebrew word meaning wheels or modes), a big work for voices, instruments and electronics. Now Mr. Berio is taking it to Carnegie Hall, three days before his Oct. 24 birthday, for its American premier...
For Mr. Berio and his team, the challenge throughout the last 10 years has been how to realize sounds that would spin and move through space like Ezekiel's wheels. This is the kind of problem (Berio's chief technologist) Giuseppe di Giugno enjoys. He did his doctoral research in the physics of elemental particles...
Mr. Berio's composition was sparked, he said, by a visit to the Tower of David in Jerusalem, which gave him "the vision of a complex huge architecture, with many layers and corridors." These layers and corridors are partly in the substance of the music, in its electronic elaborations of an already elaborate ensemble of children's voices, instrumental groups and, emerging at the end, a lone woman singing from the Song of Songs.
But there are also layers and corridors of time being evoked here. For his soloist, Mr. Berio wanted a voice "that stayed away from the noble stereotypes of our tradition," and so he wrote the part for Esti Kenan Ofri, whose usual repertory consists of Arab and Bedouin music. In "Ofanim" she represents the universal mother, and Ezekiel's text is transformed, Mr. Berio said, "to make it more directly related to the present situation." What results is the image of a mother taken away from her land.
The Mystery of Christ
The Passion of Christ