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Because of his open mind (and ears) Mellers saves music from the sectarian which would either possess exclusively or deny outright. Gregorian Chant is not then the sole prerogative of a few remaining Latin service churches, but is now the possession and heritage of all the world (including non Western cultures). Hildegaard's music is important not only for its vast creative power, but as a symbol of women's creativity in a patriarchal world and above all as a sign of the right of half the population to equality and freedom. Beethoven's great Mass is for everyone, even churches that prevent its performance. Berlioz' music is not only for those who have some faith, but those who have lost theirs, or never had it, yet still seek something. In fact, Mellers demonstrates that this music is important not only for the religion, not only for the history of culture, but is important for us. All of us. Now.

Sadly, it is becoming harder and harder to demonstrate the efficacy of music in and of itself, apart from liturgy, apart from a subordinate role to film, drama or advertising. Music has become background sound and by having been turned this way, we have lost a tool for human development.

Music, rightly heard, can harmonize the mind. The emotional flurry that is often the extent of people's understanding of music, is but the surface feature of a more significant function. Certain kinds of music quiet the mind and open it to divine influences (other kinds of music have different functions: dance music can invigorate tired bodies).

What are those divine influences? Well, they're not found in superstition, mumbo-jumbo, dogma or other similar trivia. There is an inner peacefulness that puts aside greed, egotistical striving, vain ambition and nonsensical violence. That's all. And that's enough.

Emeritus Professor Wilfrid Mellers
Emeritus Professor Wilfrid Mellers

Wilfrid Mellers is an excellent proponent of the significance of music from all times and for all people.

Copyright © 27 April 2003 Gordon Rumson, Calgary, Canada


Celestial Music?
Some Masterpieces of
European Religious Music

Wilfrid Mellers

Boydell & Brewer, 2002

ISBN 0 85115 844 7, hardback, 336 pages




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