Saturday, May 07, 2011

Some reflections on a work by Antonio Vivaldi

The President of the Italian Republic recently organised a concert for the Pope on the sixth anniversary of his becoming Pope.

One of the works performed was Credo in unum Deum in E minor (RV 591) by Antonio Lucio Vivaldi (4 March 1678 – 28 July 1741)

It is the only extant setting the composer wrote of the Nicene Creed

Vivaldi was a priest. Because of his red hair his nickname was il Prete Rosso, "The Red Priest"

One of the Pope`s predecessors, Pope Benedict XIII (1649 - 1730) once invited Vivaldi to Rome to play for him.

The present Pope, Benedict XVI used the occasion for a short catechesis:

""What does 'I believe' mean?," he asked, indicating that it can mean to accept something among one's convictions, to trust someone and to be certain.

"When, however, we say it in The Creed," he said, "it assumes a more profound meaning.

It is to affirm with confidence the real meaning of the reality that sustains us, that sustains the world; it means to accept this meaning as the solid ground on which we can be without fears; it is to know that the foundation of everything, of ourselves, cannot be created by us, but can only be received."

The Holy Father added that Christian faith is not "'I believe something,' but 'I believe in Someone,' in the God who revealed himself in Jesus."

"In him I perceive the real meaning of the world," the Pontiff said, "and this believing involves the whole person, who is on the way to him."

"The word 'Amen,' which in Hebrew has the same root as the word 'faith,' takes up this same concept: to lean with confidence on God, the solid base." ...

In regard to Vivaldi's piece, Benedict XVI pointed out three things, beginning with the unusual characteristic of the composer's vocal production: the absence of soloists.

"In this way, Vivaldi wishes to express the 'we' of the faith.

The 'I believe' is the 'we' of the Church that sings, in space and time, as a community of believers, its faith; 'my' affirmation 'I believe' is within the 'we' of the community," he reflected.

Then he pointed out "the two splendid central pictures: Et incarnatus est and Crucifixus. Vivaldi pauses, as was customary, at the moment in which God who seems far away becomes close, is incarnated and gives himself to us on the cross."

He noted how it expresses "the profound sense of wonder in face of this Mystery and invite[s] us to meditation, to prayer."

"A last observation. In his first meeting with Vivaldi, Carlo Goldoni, great exponent of the Venetian theatre, pointed out: 'I found him surrounded by music and with the breviary in hand.' Vivaldi was a priest and his music is born from his faith."

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