Monday, January 05, 2009

Pope Paul VI on music

While out on my walk today I caught up on a BBC Radio 3 podcast of the programme `Music Matters`. This one was broadcast on December 6th and had a feature on Nicholas Clapton`s new edition of his book on Moreschi, the Angel of Rome: the only castrato of whom, somewhat alarming, recordings survive. I have the 2004 edition and a fascinating read it is as much for an insight into the battles over changing musical styles at the Vatican under St Pius X as for what it says about the castrato phenomenon.

The interview was introduced by an anecdote which I`d not heard before and which isn`t in the 2004 edition. Stravinsky was decorated by Pope Paul VI at a concert in the Vatican in 1965. Nicholas Clapton said that at that meeting the pope, who, perhaps unwittingly, was to bring about the greatest upheaval in church music ever known, asked Stravinsky: " What can I do for music?" to which he received the reply: "Bring back the castrato"!

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