Czech Republic: Bishop wants to ban secular music from churches

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Czech Republic:
Bishop wants to ban secular music from churches

Based on the Vatican’s directive on church music issued in 1987 which stipulates that churches should “only be open to religious music”, a Czech bishop intends to ban the Gustav Mahler’s music, writes the Prague Daily Monitor

Austrian composer and conductor Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) is often described as one of the most important figures of European art music in the 20th century. His music has now come under fire from the bishop of a small Czech Republic town, Jihlava – a town in south Moravia famous as the place where Gustav Mahler was born. The bishop wants to ban the composer’s music from the church where it is performed in annual concerts each September.

According to the English-language newspaper Prague Daily Monitor, the local bishop wants to ban secular music from churches, basing his decision on the Vatican’s directive on church music issued in 1987, which stipulates that churches should “only be open to liturgic or religious music.”

The Brno Bishopric, which administers the St Ignatius Church in Jihlava, apparently does not regard Mahler’s symphonies as “spiritual” enough to be performed in churches, according to the Prague Daily Monitor.

Gustav Mahler’s background
Gustav Mahler came of a Jewish family, and he suffered the fate of innumerable banned composers of Jewish origin in the 19th century. While he was alive, his music was still imperfectly known and understood outside the German-speaking countries of Europe. Only during his last decade did they begin to enjoy some critical support and popular success.
He wrote large-scale symphonic works and songs, many with orchestra, and established a career as a powerful and innovatory conductor.
In 1897, Mahler, then thirty-seven, was offered the directorship of the Vienna Opera, the most prestigious musical position in the Austrian Empire. This was an ‘Imperial’ post, and under Austro-Hungarian law no such posts could be occupied by Jews. Mahler, who was never a devout or practising Jew, had, in preparation, converted to Roman Catholicism.
In the 1930’s Germany, Nazi musicologists claimed that Jewish music was inherently bastardized music that had to be stopped. They tore into three main Jewish composers: Mendelssohn, Mahler, and Schoenberg.
In the 1970’s, however, Mahler became one of the most frequently performed and recorded of symphonists in the Western world.
Gustav Mahler was born in Kaliste, Jihlava, Bohemia, in the Czech Republic on 7 May 1860. He died in Vienna on 18 May 1911.


Composer Gustav Mahler

Sources:

Playbill Arts – 24 March 2006:
‘Mahler Not Spiritual Enough to be Performed in Czech Church’

Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Biography on Gustav Mahler

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