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Author Topic: About Classical music  (Read 3649 times) Average Rating: 0
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pengupk
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« on: July 16, 2012, 11:52:44 AM »

Hi,

I am a finnish lutheran thinking of becoming an orthodox christian. Since I am a music school instrument teacher and active chamber musician, I would want to know what the orthodox think of classical music?

I read that after persecutions of christians in 4th century, many Church Fathers were against instrumental music but that nowadays for example St Seraphim of Platina and Elder Poryphorios have held classical music in high esteem. I guess there is not a single answer here and of course it depends on the music, but if someone could help me with this, I'd be happy. I have been thinking a lot that if classical music would be somehow sinful or bad for your soul since Church Fathers have been so much against it, but I guess it's because of music of 4th century was something totally different from music of our days and that it really depends on the music more than what instruments are being used.

And just to make sure, I'm not talking instrumental music in liturgy, only music as a job and as a career and as a pleasure.

Thank you all!
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LizaSymonenko
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2012, 12:24:34 PM »

I'm Orthodox, and I love classical music!

The only "type" of music that I think would be "bad" is something that would awaken certain sinful desires in the listener.

Anything, that leads a person to sin, is a no-no....be it sultry music, or music where the person gets so lost in the dance they lose themselves, or video games, movies, books, etc.

Welcome to the forum, pengupk!  Smiley


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« Reply #2 on: July 16, 2012, 12:33:42 PM »

It is interesting, isn't it? This apparent change of heart. But I have heard from people who espouse this view (that classical music is good/appropriate/better than other music), which I do not share, that the difference is that classical is "more pure" or perhaps "less dangerous" relative to other forms of music -- primarily pop music like rock'n'roll and the like. Again, I do not agree with this view, but I can see what they mean. It is hard to honestly and impartially compare Rachmaninov, who also did arrangement of the liturgy, to the likes of KISS or Lady Gaga or whoever. My own Bishop, HG Bishop Youssef holds this view, as well, but it apparently has not stopped people in my church from listening to various classical Arabic musicians (for which they have not been turned away by our priests, of course), so I would be surprised if there were any kind of dogmatic stance held, either by EO or OO.
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« Reply #3 on: July 16, 2012, 12:34:51 PM »

Nice to see more Finns in here. Tervetuloa!

I don't think Orthodoxy is anyhow against Classical Music. The only problem with it would be using it during services but other than that I don't think there is any problem. In fact on the contrary since some Orthodox theologians such as Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokalamsk seem to deem it as a sort of symbol of European Christian culture. So based on that we could say that Orthodoxy has a rather positive view of Classical Music.
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« Reply #4 on: July 16, 2012, 12:39:27 PM »

The beauty of classical music to the Orthodox Christian is that, at least before the onset of modernism in the 20th century, classical music is built on principles of order and harmony and beauty. (Classical music from Bach to Rach actually follows a somewhat strict, complicated mathematical theory.) I think this is something Fr. Seraphim Rose touched on in his teaching on music, and this is something I have experienced as an Orthodox Christian and a classically trained musician.
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neon_knights
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« Reply #5 on: July 16, 2012, 01:03:43 PM »

I'm going to echo Liza's post and say that any music is "acceptable" to listen to, unless you feel that listening to it would harm you spiritually or cause you to sin. In that case, don't listen.

Don't blindly follow the teachings of assorted monks and Fathers when it comes to personal matters like these. Times change, as do opinions of churchmen on personal matters such as these. Music listened to for recreation has absolutely nothing to do with the Orthodox Faith, so the words of a 4th century church father condemning instrumental music, or those of a 20th century monastic condemning rock music really shouldn't be taken as authoritative. Fr. Seraphim Rose, while he was a very holy and wise man indeed, was not God, and was not inerrant, and therefore his personal views on issues like this should not be taken as Gospel truth. This is the same with the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers are not infallible teachers, or your priest/bishop, and therefore IMO their teachings on pastoral matters such as these should not be followed to the tittle. Remember that for every Church Father, monastic, or priest that says "this and this is eeeeeviiillll", there will be a hundred that say directly otherwise.

My advice would be, read the Bible, listen to your heart, and be accountable to someone(ie a priest). You will know in your heart if you are listening to music that will harm you spiritually; listen to your priest or pastor, and if you trust him and he thinks that certain music will harm you then listen to him.

Music is a beautiful thing, and in my opinion no form or style of music is can be inherently evil or destructive. A style is just that, a style. Music doesn't have to conform to certain standards of "order, harmony, and beauty" to be good music. Composers like Bartok and Shostakovich can be just as "beautiful" as Bach or Brahms, and likewise the latter can be just as morbid as the former at times. I'm sure you as a musician know this perfectly.

My main point is, don't take the words of the Church Fathers or certain monks and priests on pastoral issues such as this as Gospel truth. You are in no way accountable to the Church Fathers, or priests and monks that you don't know. Get to know a priest, listen to his advice when he gives it, and listen to your heart. That's what's really important.
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« Reply #6 on: July 16, 2012, 01:15:53 PM »

I do not see it being used in church or functions of the Church such as marriages, but on an individual basis, I see no problem with it.  I love classical music.
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« Reply #7 on: July 16, 2012, 01:18:12 PM »

I'm going to echo Liza's post and say that any music is "acceptable" to listen to, unless you feel that listening to it would harm you spiritually or cause you to sin. In that case, don't listen.

Don't blindly follow the teachings of assorted monks and Fathers when it comes to personal matters like these. Times change, as do opinions of churchmen on personal matters such as these. Music listened to for recreation has absolutely nothing to do with the Orthodox Faith, so the words of a 4th century church father condemning instrumental music, or those of a 20th century monastic condemning rock music really shouldn't be taken as authoritative. Fr. Seraphim Rose, while he was a very holy and wise man indeed, was not God, and was not inerrant, and therefore his personal views on issues like this should not be taken as Gospel truth. This is the same with the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers are not infallible teachers, or your priest/bishop, and therefore IMO their teachings on pastoral matters such as these should not be followed to the tittle. Remember that for every Church Father, monastic, or priest that says "this and this is eeeeeviiillll", there will be a hundred that say directly otherwise.

My advice would be, read the Bible, listen to your heart, and be accountable to someone(ie a priest). You will know in your heart if you are listening to music that will harm you spiritually; listen to your priest or pastor, and if you trust him and he thinks that certain music will harm you then listen to him.

Music is a beautiful thing, and in my opinion no form or style of music is can be inherently evil or destructive. A style is just that, a style. Music doesn't have to conform to certain standards of "order, harmony, and beauty" to be good music. Composers like Bartok and Shostakovich can be just as "beautiful" as Bach or Brahms, and likewise the latter can be just as morbid as the former at times. I'm sure you as a musician know this perfectly.

My main point is, don't take the words of the Church Fathers or certain monks and priests on pastoral issues such as this as Gospel truth. You are in no way accountable to the Church Fathers, or priests and monks that you don't know. Get to know a priest, listen to his advice when he gives it, and listen to your heart. That's what's really important.
What faith tradition do you represent, neon_knights?
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neon_knights
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« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2012, 01:29:34 PM »

I'm going to echo Liza's post and say that any music is "acceptable" to listen to, unless you feel that listening to it would harm you spiritually or cause you to sin. In that case, don't listen.

Don't blindly follow the teachings of assorted monks and Fathers when it comes to personal matters like these. Times change, as do opinions of churchmen on personal matters such as these. Music listened to for recreation has absolutely nothing to do with the Orthodox Faith, so the words of a 4th century church father condemning instrumental music, or those of a 20th century monastic condemning rock music really shouldn't be taken as authoritative. Fr. Seraphim Rose, while he was a very holy and wise man indeed, was not God, and was not inerrant, and therefore his personal views on issues like this should not be taken as Gospel truth. This is the same with the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers are not infallible teachers, or your priest/bishop, and therefore IMO their teachings on pastoral matters such as these should not be followed to the tittle. Remember that for every Church Father, monastic, or priest that says "this and this is eeeeeviiillll", there will be a hundred that say directly otherwise.

My advice would be, read the Bible, listen to your heart, and be accountable to someone(ie a priest). You will know in your heart if you are listening to music that will harm you spiritually; listen to your priest or pastor, and if you trust him and he thinks that certain music will harm you then listen to him.

Music is a beautiful thing, and in my opinion no form or style of music is can be inherently evil or destructive. A style is just that, a style. Music doesn't have to conform to certain standards of "order, harmony, and beauty" to be good music. Composers like Bartok and Shostakovich can be just as "beautiful" as Bach or Brahms, and likewise the latter can be just as morbid as the former at times. I'm sure you as a musician know this perfectly.

My main point is, don't take the words of the Church Fathers or certain monks and priests on pastoral issues such as this as Gospel truth. You are in no way accountable to the Church Fathers, or priests and monks that you don't know. Get to know a priest, listen to his advice when he gives it, and listen to your heart. That's what's really important.
What faith tradition do you represent, neon_knights?

As of now, unaffiliated. I haven't been to church in a significant amount of time, and I haven't really been praying as much as I should be. I still strongly consider myself a Christian, and I intend to start seriously inquiring into Orthodoxy when the right time arises.
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« Reply #9 on: July 16, 2012, 02:11:38 PM »

I don't see any problem with classical music, and love it myself! Most people in the Church seem to feel the same way. Have you heard of Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeyev) of Volokolamsk? He's composed a beautiful rendition of St. Matthew's Passion. I don't know where the whole thing would be, but here's the finale.

Then-Bishop Hilarion (this recording is several years old) even comes out at the end to receive flowers and applause.
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« Reply #10 on: July 16, 2012, 02:59:57 PM »

I'm sure that the reason the fathers opposed instrumental music was probably due to some type of pagan associations that went along with it back in the day or that it took people's mind off of the purpose of Church. However, since times have changed, I don't think there is anything wrong with it, provided it does not tempt you to sin in some way.
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PeterTheAleut
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« Reply #11 on: July 16, 2012, 03:09:45 PM »

I'm going to echo Liza's post and say that any music is "acceptable" to listen to, unless you feel that listening to it would harm you spiritually or cause you to sin. In that case, don't listen.

Don't blindly follow the teachings of assorted monks and Fathers when it comes to personal matters like these. Times change, as do opinions of churchmen on personal matters such as these. Music listened to for recreation has absolutely nothing to do with the Orthodox Faith, so the words of a 4th century church father condemning instrumental music, or those of a 20th century monastic condemning rock music really shouldn't be taken as authoritative. Fr. Seraphim Rose, while he was a very holy and wise man indeed, was not God, and was not inerrant, and therefore his personal views on issues like this should not be taken as Gospel truth. This is the same with the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers are not infallible teachers, or your priest/bishop, and therefore IMO their teachings on pastoral matters such as these should not be followed to the tittle. Remember that for every Church Father, monastic, or priest that says "this and this is eeeeeviiillll", there will be a hundred that say directly otherwise.

My advice would be, read the Bible, listen to your heart, and be accountable to someone(ie a priest). You will know in your heart if you are listening to music that will harm you spiritually; listen to your priest or pastor, and if you trust him and he thinks that certain music will harm you then listen to him.

Music is a beautiful thing, and in my opinion no form or style of music is can be inherently evil or destructive. A style is just that, a style. Music doesn't have to conform to certain standards of "order, harmony, and beauty" to be good music. Composers like Bartok and Shostakovich can be just as "beautiful" as Bach or Brahms, and likewise the latter can be just as morbid as the former at times. I'm sure you as a musician know this perfectly.

My main point is, don't take the words of the Church Fathers or certain monks and priests on pastoral issues such as this as Gospel truth. You are in no way accountable to the Church Fathers, or priests and monks that you don't know. Get to know a priest, listen to his advice when he gives it, and listen to your heart. That's what's really important.
What faith tradition do you represent, neon_knights?

As of now, unaffiliated. I haven't been to church in a significant amount of time, and I haven't really been praying as much as I should be. I still strongly consider myself a Christian, and I intend to start seriously inquiring into Orthodoxy when the right time arises.
I was just wondering because your reply shows a dismissiveness toward the Fathers and a readiness to advise a more subjective "just look to the Scriptures and follow your heart" approach that don't really jibe with an Orthodox mindset. The Convert Issues board exists as a place for potential converts to learn an Orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. I'm not sure your advice is all that Orthodox, and I'm honestly not sure that someone who hasn't been worshipping anywhere for a while and hasn't started inquiring seriously into the Orthodox faith yet really knows enough about the Faith to give a potential convert the Orthodox advice he/she seeks.
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neon_knights
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« Reply #12 on: July 16, 2012, 03:25:26 PM »

I'm going to echo Liza's post and say that any music is "acceptable" to listen to, unless you feel that listening to it would harm you spiritually or cause you to sin. In that case, don't listen.

Don't blindly follow the teachings of assorted monks and Fathers when it comes to personal matters like these. Times change, as do opinions of churchmen on personal matters such as these. Music listened to for recreation has absolutely nothing to do with the Orthodox Faith, so the words of a 4th century church father condemning instrumental music, or those of a 20th century monastic condemning rock music really shouldn't be taken as authoritative. Fr. Seraphim Rose, while he was a very holy and wise man indeed, was not God, and was not inerrant, and therefore his personal views on issues like this should not be taken as Gospel truth. This is the same with the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers are not infallible teachers, or your priest/bishop, and therefore IMO their teachings on pastoral matters such as these should not be followed to the tittle. Remember that for every Church Father, monastic, or priest that says "this and this is eeeeeviiillll", there will be a hundred that say directly otherwise.

My advice would be, read the Bible, listen to your heart, and be accountable to someone(ie a priest). You will know in your heart if you are listening to music that will harm you spiritually; listen to your priest or pastor, and if you trust him and he thinks that certain music will harm you then listen to him.

Music is a beautiful thing, and in my opinion no form or style of music is can be inherently evil or destructive. A style is just that, a style. Music doesn't have to conform to certain standards of "order, harmony, and beauty" to be good music. Composers like Bartok and Shostakovich can be just as "beautiful" as Bach or Brahms, and likewise the latter can be just as morbid as the former at times. I'm sure you as a musician know this perfectly.

My main point is, don't take the words of the Church Fathers or certain monks and priests on pastoral issues such as this as Gospel truth. You are in no way accountable to the Church Fathers, or priests and monks that you don't know. Get to know a priest, listen to his advice when he gives it, and listen to your heart. That's what's really important.
What faith tradition do you represent, neon_knights?

As of now, unaffiliated. I haven't been to church in a significant amount of time, and I haven't really been praying as much as I should be. I still strongly consider myself a Christian, and I intend to start seriously inquiring into Orthodoxy when the right time arises.
I was just wondering because your reply shows a dismissiveness toward the Fathers and a readiness to advise a more subjective "just look to the Scriptures and follow your heart" approach that don't really jibe with an Orthodox mindset. The Convert Issues board exists as a place for potential converts to learn an Orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. I'm not sure your advice is all that Orthodox, and I'm honestly not sure that someone who hasn't been worshipping anywhere for a while and hasn't started inquiring seriously into the Orthodox faith yet really knows enough about the Faith to give a potential convert the Orthodox advice he/she seeks.

I didn't at all intend to show a dismissiveness towards the Fathers.  My point was, that in pastoral issues such as these, like whether a certain type of music is appropriate for listening, the opinions of the Fathers really shouldn't be considered authoritative unless personally "prescribed" by a priest or bishop. Is this not true? Or do Orthodox Christians think that the writings of the Fathers should be followed without question on every matter of life? Why should we listen to Father A or monk B if they say "this sort of music is inherently evil", when priest C,D,E,F,G and bishop H,I,J,K, and L all say its not? I said multiple times that this person should get acquainted with a priest and seek advice from him on pastoral matters such as these. Is this not an Orthodox idea? Please read over my post again, as I think you've got the wrong idea as to what I'm trying to say.
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2012, 03:50:11 PM »

Fwiw some of the Fathers, such as St. Gregory the Theologian, recognized the positive aspects of music...

"Among the kings, David is celebrated, whose victories and trophies gained from the enemy are on record, but his most characteristic trait was his gentleness, and, before his kingly office, his power with the harp, able to soothe even the evil spirit." (Oration 43, 73)

I used to have more quotes, but I've lost track of the file I had them in  Undecided

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Fr.Kyrillos
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« Reply #14 on: July 16, 2012, 11:24:40 PM »

I enjoy classical music and actually play classical guitar...if anyone is interested:

http://www.youtube.com/user/frkyrillos/videos

God bless,
Fr. Kyrillos
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« Reply #15 on: July 16, 2012, 11:57:44 PM »

I enjoy classical music and actually play classical guitar...if anyone is interested:

http://www.youtube.com/user/frkyrillos/videos

God bless,
Fr. Kyrillos

Father, I am interested indeed.  Great playing.
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« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2012, 01:11:22 AM »

I'm going to echo Liza's post and say that any music is "acceptable" to listen to, unless you feel that listening to it would harm you spiritually or cause you to sin. In that case, don't listen.

Don't blindly follow the teachings of assorted monks and Fathers when it comes to personal matters like these. Times change, as do opinions of churchmen on personal matters such as these. Music listened to for recreation has absolutely nothing to do with the Orthodox Faith, so the words of a 4th century church father condemning instrumental music, or those of a 20th century monastic condemning rock music really shouldn't be taken as authoritative. Fr. Seraphim Rose, while he was a very holy and wise man indeed, was not God, and was not inerrant, and therefore his personal views on issues like this should not be taken as Gospel truth. This is the same with the Church Fathers. The Church Fathers are not infallible teachers, or your priest/bishop, and therefore IMO their teachings on pastoral matters such as these should not be followed to the tittle. Remember that for every Church Father, monastic, or priest that says "this and this is eeeeeviiillll", there will be a hundred that say directly otherwise.

My advice would be, read the Bible, listen to your heart, and be accountable to someone(ie a priest). You will know in your heart if you are listening to music that will harm you spiritually; listen to your priest or pastor, and if you trust him and he thinks that certain music will harm you then listen to him.

Music is a beautiful thing, and in my opinion no form or style of music is can be inherently evil or destructive. A style is just that, a style. Music doesn't have to conform to certain standards of "order, harmony, and beauty" to be good music. Composers like Bartok and Shostakovich can be just as "beautiful" as Bach or Brahms, and likewise the latter can be just as morbid as the former at times. I'm sure you as a musician know this perfectly.

My main point is, don't take the words of the Church Fathers or certain monks and priests on pastoral issues such as this as Gospel truth. You are in no way accountable to the Church Fathers, or priests and monks that you don't know. Get to know a priest, listen to his advice when he gives it, and listen to your heart. That's what's really important.
What faith tradition do you represent, neon_knights?

As of now, unaffiliated. I haven't been to church in a significant amount of time, and I haven't really been praying as much as I should be. I still strongly consider myself a Christian, and I intend to start seriously inquiring into Orthodoxy when the right time arises.
I was just wondering because your reply shows a dismissiveness toward the Fathers and a readiness to advise a more subjective "just look to the Scriptures and follow your heart" approach that don't really jibe with an Orthodox mindset. The Convert Issues board exists as a place for potential converts to learn an Orthodox understanding of the Christian faith. I'm not sure your advice is all that Orthodox, and I'm honestly not sure that someone who hasn't been worshipping anywhere for a while and hasn't started inquiring seriously into the Orthodox faith yet really knows enough about the Faith to give a potential convert the Orthodox advice he/she seeks.

I didn't at all intend to show a dismissiveness towards the Fathers.
I'm not saying you intended to show such dismissiveness. I just think your words betray unconsciously a deeply held world view that has little room for the Fathers.

My point was, that in pastoral issues such as these, like whether a certain type of music is appropriate for listening, the opinions of the Fathers really shouldn't be considered authoritative unless personally "prescribed" by a priest or bishop. Is this not true?
No, this is not true.

Or do Orthodox Christians think that the writings of the Fathers should be followed without question on every matter of life?
False dichotomy that reveals just how little you actually know of how the Orthodox venerate the wisdom of the Holy Fathers. Our following after the way of the Fathers is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Whereas we do not necessarily consult the writings of the Fathers to answer every question on every picayune little detail we face in our daily lives, we do grant them more authority than you appear to do. Our position is a bit more nuanced than you would like to think.

Why should we listen to Father A or monk B if they say "this sort of music is inherently evil", when priest C,D,E,F,G and bishop H,I,J,K, and L all say its not? I said multiple times that this person should get acquainted with a priest and seek advice from him on pastoral matters such as these. Is this not an Orthodox idea?
Yes and no. We do value the counsel of our priests and bishops, but we shouldn't go running to them every time we need a question answered on even the picayune little details of life. God did give each of us a mind and the opportunity to acquire the discernment that comes from living life in the Holy Spirit.

Please read over my post again, as I think you've got the wrong idea as to what I'm trying to say.
Actually, I think you're getting the wrong idea of what I'm trying to say. One who has never been Orthodox and who freely admits to not having cast a shadow on the door step of any church for a long time probably shouldn't presume to offer counsel to someone who is thinking about converting to the Orthodox Christian faith. The Orthodox Faith is learned just as much--nay, I would say even more by experience than it is by book learning. Your words reveal just how little you understand this and how little you understand the Orthodox Christian way of discerning wisdom. Acquire the experience that comes from living an Orthodox life for a few years, then maybe you'll be able to counsel other potential converts on how to live an Orthodox life.
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« Reply #17 on: July 17, 2012, 07:03:22 AM »

An activity that engages the intellect and the spirit at once is one step closer to the divine; a good word for it is elevation or buoyancy.  Music that emphasizes beat and rhythm over tune and harmony (or even dissonance,if properly placed within the structure- see my icon) appeals to a different aesthetic.  Some may say "lower" as contrasted to the "higher."
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« Reply #18 on: July 17, 2012, 09:30:08 AM »

(or even dissonance,if properly placed within the structure- see my icon)
Who is that in your icon? Igor Stravinsky?
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« Reply #19 on: July 17, 2012, 09:52:28 AM »

Or do Orthodox Christians think that the writings of the Fathers should be followed without question on every matter of life?
False dichotomy that reveals just how little you actually know of how the Orthodox venerate the wisdom of the Holy Fathers. Our following after the way of the Fathers is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Whereas we do not necessarily consult the writings of the Fathers to answer every question on every picayune little detail we face in our daily lives, we do grant them more authority than you appear to do. Our position is a bit more nuanced than you would like to think.

Why should we listen to Father A or monk B if they say "this sort of music is inherently evil", when priest C,D,E,F,G and bishop H,I,J,K, and L all say its not? I said multiple times that this person should get acquainted with a priest and seek advice from him on pastoral matters such as these. Is this not an Orthodox idea?
Yes and no. We do value the counsel of our priests and bishops, but we shouldn't go running to them every time we need a question answered on even the picayune little details of life. God did give each of us a mind and the opportunity to acquire the discernment that comes from living life in the Holy Spirit.

PtA, in order to summarize and clarify somewhat, would it be reasonable to say that we read the Fathers and seek the counsel of our priests and bishops in order to learn how to make a decision rather than to determine what that decision should be?

P.S. I like and listen to classical music myself.
(edit to add PS)
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« Reply #20 on: July 17, 2012, 12:43:32 PM »

Or do Orthodox Christians think that the writings of the Fathers should be followed without question on every matter of life?
False dichotomy that reveals just how little you actually know of how the Orthodox venerate the wisdom of the Holy Fathers. Our following after the way of the Fathers is not an all-or-nothing proposition. Whereas we do not necessarily consult the writings of the Fathers to answer every question on every picayune little detail we face in our daily lives, we do grant them more authority than you appear to do. Our position is a bit more nuanced than you would like to think.

Why should we listen to Father A or monk B if they say "this sort of music is inherently evil", when priest C,D,E,F,G and bishop H,I,J,K, and L all say its not? I said multiple times that this person should get acquainted with a priest and seek advice from him on pastoral matters such as these. Is this not an Orthodox idea?
Yes and no. We do value the counsel of our priests and bishops, but we shouldn't go running to them every time we need a question answered on even the picayune little details of life. God did give each of us a mind and the opportunity to acquire the discernment that comes from living life in the Holy Spirit.

PtA, in order to summarize and clarify somewhat, would it be reasonable to say that we read the Fathers and seek the counsel of our priests and bishops in order to learn how to make a decision rather than to determine what that decision should be?
To some extent, that is what I'm saying.
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« Reply #21 on: July 17, 2012, 01:51:09 PM »

I'm listening to it right now, is absolutely beautiful and I think it is set apart from other kinds of music.

However, for all it's beauty, it has no place in our churches.
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« Reply #22 on: July 17, 2012, 02:43:24 PM »

I'm listening to it right now, is absolutely beautiful and I think it is set apart from other kinds of music.

However, for all it's beauty, it has no place in our churches.
How, then, do you define classical music such that it has no place in our churches? Much of what we call classical music was composed originally for church use. Not only is this true of the Western churches, but also even of the Orthodox Church--for example, Rachmaninoff's All Night Vigil and Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, Tchaikovsky's Divine Liturgy, the "Our Father" by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. Do these not count as works of classical music merely because we use them in church?
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« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2012, 06:54:18 PM »

I came out of lurking for this! I'm a Ph.D. candidate in musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Kentucky, and besides wrestling with the decision to convert or not, the role of "classical" music in day-to-day and ecclesiastical life is at the forefront of my attention these days. I'm actually writing my dissertation on Metropolitan Hilarion and his conservatory teacher Vladimir Martynov. I also teach music appreciation so I'll speak out of that experience, too.

I put "classical" in quotation marks because it properly only refers to the music of about 1750-1800, particularly that of Mozart, F.J. Haydn, and their contemporaries in a certain segment of Europe. I'll speak out of western musical history: since about 1808 (the premiere of Beethoven's Fifth), the role of classical music in society began to compete for airtime with the role of religion in society, particularly in light (pun intended) of the Enlightenment and a certain Friederich Schleiermacher, whose aesthetic interpretation of Christianity became the de rigeur approach to Christian theology in the "cultivated West," e.g. cultural centers such as Paris, Vienna, Berlin, etc. So, in the 19th century, composers began to be regarded as priests and seers with a certain closeness to the divine. Where the stymied religion of protestant liberalism was unable to speak to the hearts and spiritual situations of the public, they turned to the artist as their new prophet, and performances took the place of liturgy or Mass or what have you.

And yet, some of the West's most prominent composers, particularly in the 20th century, have been persons of tremendous Christian devotion: Messiaen, Stravinsky, Poulenc, Bruckner, Brahms all come to mind. So for some time in the West there's been a bizarre dichotomy between music as faith over against music through faith. I won't comment on the Westernized aesthetics of Russia in the late 19th century since that's a field I'm not as comfortable with.

Frequently in evangelical schools in the USA, there's a ban on any kind of popular music, favoring classical music and "traditional hymns" (by which I mean four-square hymns from the 19th century American South) as the only permissible listening material. What many such administrators fail to recognize is that there exists a large amount of classical music that is incredibly dark and sensual, and honestly some of the pop and rock out there looks childish next to the intensity of works like Berg's Lulu or Richard Strauss' Salome. Now, I am clearly not in favor of pitching these works because they contain "objectionable content;" rather, we as discerning listeners must engage them as cultural documents that encapsulate particular ideologies of particular times. If you're going to listen to edgy music, don't waste your time with Lady Gaga and her ilk; listen to something like the Symphony of Psalms or the Litanies a la Vierge Noire and be genuinely challenged!
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« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2012, 07:01:19 PM »

Lulu.

One of my favorites and I've had the privilege of seeing it performed twice.

But this is another thread that is begging for my attention.

So much confusion, so little time.
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« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2012, 07:04:34 PM »

Welcome to the forum, golgicomplex Smiley
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« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2012, 08:28:10 PM »

I enjoy classical music and actually play classical guitar...if anyone is interested:

http://www.youtube.com/user/frkyrillos/videos

God bless,
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Father, I am interested indeed.  Great playing.

seconding that Father, wonderful! I like and listen to classical music as well.
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« Reply #27 on: July 20, 2012, 10:46:39 PM »

Hi,

I am a finnish lutheran thinking of becoming an orthodox christian. Since I am a music school instrument teacher and active chamber musician, I would want to know what the orthodox think of classical music?

I read that after persecutions of christians in 4th century, many Church Fathers were against instrumental music but that nowadays for example St Seraphim of Platina and Elder Poryphorios have held classical music in high esteem. I guess there is not a single answer here and of course it depends on the music, but if someone could help me with this, I'd be happy. I have been thinking a lot that if classical music would be somehow sinful or bad for your soul since Church Fathers have been so much against it, but I guess it's because of music of 4th century was something totally different from music of our days and that it really depends on the music more than what instruments are being used.

And just to make sure, I'm not talking instrumental music in liturgy, only music as a job and as a career and as a pleasure.

Thank you all!



I am a musician myself and love orchestral music. Many of the great Russian composers of the 19th century; Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and others actually composed music for liturgical services. Tchaikovsky uses one of our most beloved hymns O Lord Save Thy People in several pieces of music including his Symphony #2 and  1812 Overture. Rimsky-Korsakov wrote an entire piece based on the Paschal stichera and troparia. You may be familiar with the Great Russian Easter Overture. If you haven't heard it and for all of my Orthodox friends who may not be familiar with it here is a link. Being a brass player it's definitely one of my favorites.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lAV4I5-Fpc&feature=related
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« Reply #28 on: July 21, 2012, 12:42:46 AM »

Lulu.

One of my favorites and I've had the privilege of seeing it performed twice.

But this is another thread that is begging for my attention.

So much confusion, so little time.

I hope you're not talking about the Lulu I'm thinking of right now.
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« Reply #29 on: July 21, 2012, 12:58:48 AM »

I put "classical" in quotation marks because it properly only refers to the music of about 1750-1800, particularly that of Mozart, F.J. Haydn, and their contemporaries in a certain segment of Europe.
I noticed that you say that classical music only refers to music from 1750 - 1800. I  thought that  the early symphonies  (1732-1739) of Giovanni Battista Sammartini which were modelled on the  introductory instrumental pieces of Baroque Italian opera, could be considered as reflecting a transition from the Baroque to the Classical period. And although the latter half of the eighteenth century is often mentioned as the beginning of the classical period, is it not true that some historians say that western classical music had its beginnings in the Gregorian chant of the Roman Catholic Church? "If we go back in history in search of the beginning of classical music, Gregorian chant appears to be one of the most important sources."
http://www.exmusica.org/archives/120/the-influence-of-gregorian-chant
This then  brings up the related question as to what the Orthodox think about the Gregorian chant?
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« Reply #30 on: July 21, 2012, 01:13:09 AM »

Hi,

I am a finnish lutheran thinking of becoming an orthodox christian. Since I am a music school instrument teacher and active chamber musician, I would want to know what the orthodox think of classical music?

I read that after persecutions of christians in 4th century, many Church Fathers were against instrumental music but that nowadays for example St Seraphim of Platina and Elder Poryphorios have held classical music in high esteem. I guess there is not a single answer here and of course it depends on the music, but if someone could help me with this, I'd be happy. I have been thinking a lot that if classical music would be somehow sinful or bad for your soul since Church Fathers have been so much against it, but I guess it's because of music of 4th century was something totally different from music of our days and that it really depends on the music more than what instruments are being used.

And just to make sure, I'm not talking instrumental music in liturgy, only music as a job and as a career and as a pleasure.

Thank you all!



I am a musician myself and love orchestral music. Many of the great Russian composers of the 19th century; Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff and others actually composed music for liturgical services. Tchaikovsky uses one of our most beloved hymns O Lord Save Thy People in several pieces of music including his Symphony #2 and  1812 Overture. Rimsky-Korsakov wrote an entire piece based on the Paschal stichera and troparia. You may be familiar with the Great Russian Easter Overture. If you haven't heard it and for all of my Orthodox friends who may not be familiar with it here is a link. Being a brass player it's definitely one of my favorites.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lAV4I5-Fpc&feature=related

I've been trying for several years to get my orchestras to play that work, partly because, like you, I'm also a brass player (trombone). Grin (LOW BRASS KICKS ... well, let's not go there. Wink)

I've also played the 1812 Overture; of course, not sitting next to the cannons, or, in our performance, the bass drums. (I'm surprised the bass drummers didn't rip the heads of their drums by imitating the sound of the cannons.)
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« Reply #31 on: July 21, 2012, 03:13:05 AM »

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.

It's chants or GTFO

Your servant in Christ,
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« Reply #32 on: July 21, 2012, 03:25:22 AM »

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.

Monophysite! Is outrage!
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« Reply #33 on: July 21, 2012, 08:29:37 AM »

I put "classical" in quotation marks because it properly only refers to the music of about 1750-1800, particularly that of Mozart, F.J. Haydn, and their contemporaries in a certain segment of Europe.
I noticed that you say that classical music only refers to music from 1750 - 1800. I  thought that  the early symphonies  (1732-1739) of Giovanni Battista Sammartini which were modelled on the  introductory instrumental pieces of Baroque Italian opera, could be considered as reflecting a transition from the Baroque to the Classical period. And although the latter half of the eighteenth century is often mentioned as the beginning of the classical period, is it not true that some historians say that western classical music had its beginnings in the Gregorian chant of the Roman Catholic Church? "If we go back in history in search of the beginning of classical music, Gregorian chant appears to be one of the most important sources."
http://www.exmusica.org/archives/120/the-influence-of-gregorian-chant
This then  brings up the related question as to what the Orthodox think about the Gregorian chant?


Well, the distinction is a little fuzzier in reality but us musicologists like nice round numbers. The works of Sammartini can be described as style galant, which represents a gradual "leaning up" of the Baroque aesthetic into the neat, balanced phrases of the latter 18th century. Style galant was only in vogue for about 20-30 years, but it was hugely influential; JS Bach's composer sons called him the "old man" because of his more antiquated compositional aesthetic.

To be sure, western art music is indebted to the chant traditions of the RCC, and particularly to the development of those chant forms into organum and later polyphony. No historian will contest that. But as I said, musicologists like to call a very particular segment of music history the "classical era." If you're talking about Bach, you're talking Baroque music (not classical); if you're speaking of Palestrina you're talking of renaissance polyphony (not classical). For the general listener--and I think record stores are most to blame for this--all of that gets lumped under the heading "classical" as if it were one genre, but if you were to be browsing CDs and expect Schoenberg to sound like Schumann because of their alphabetical proximity on the shelf, you would be in for a surprise!

I do know several Orthodox Christians with a soft spot for Gregorian chant (which is only one of the prominent Western chant traditions among the other prominent streams: Ambrosian, Gallican, and Mozarabic). And there is the whole Western Rite thing, wherein such chant sources (I believe) as the Graduale Romanum and Liber Usualis are still in use. Lancelot Andrewes Press also has some plainchant resources for Western Rite parishes.
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« Reply #34 on: July 21, 2012, 11:03:59 AM »

I've heard of people who convert to Orthodoxy abandoning classical music just because it is Western and therefore to be discarded.  Of course, they won't part with the books they've grown up with or the TV shows they like; I don't know why classical music is given this treatment unless they think that because a lot of it was employed in the Western churches, it is somehow bad.  That kind of zealotry really needs to be stamped out in converts. You're not becoming an Orthodox monk (if you do, great and then you can worry about excising the whole classical music from your life).  But for now, enjoy the fruits of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms and Dvorak.  They are part of what makes life great. I know I'm lost without my daily Beethoven!
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« Reply #35 on: July 23, 2012, 10:39:50 PM »

In fact on the contrary since some Orthodox theologians such as Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokalamsk seem to deem it as a sort of symbol of European Christian culture.

This (if you are reporting it correctly) is probably the most insipid thing I have heard from those two great, holy men.
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« Reply #36 on: July 23, 2012, 11:50:15 PM »

I read that after persecutions of christians in 4th century, many Church Fathers were against instrumental music but that nowadays for example St Seraphim of Platina and Elder Poryphorios have held classical music in high esteem. I guess there is not a single answer here and of course it depends on the music, but if someone could help me with this, I'd be happy. I have been thinking a lot that if classical music would be somehow sinful or bad for your soul since Church Fathers have been so much against it, but I guess it's because of music of 4th century was something totally different from music of our days and that it really depends on the music more than what instruments are being used.

If we were to follow the Fathers on the question of music, we would avoid that which affects the passions in a negative way and consider good that which has a positive effect on us. Classical music tends to be favoured above popular music because the latter tends to be of a less refined character, but this should not be considered a hard and fast rule. Many operas are vulgar in their content and I'm sure there are plenty of classical pieces the Fathers would have objected to. At the same time there are many examples of popular music that can be spiritually uplifting or which serves to convey a decidedly Christian message.
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« Reply #37 on: July 24, 2012, 02:05:08 PM »

Thank you all for your kind answers. You probably won't understand how much your answers have helped me. Somehow feels like coming home, hard to explain. Thank you all and may the good God bless you all.
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« Reply #38 on: July 24, 2012, 04:02:37 PM »

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, One God. Amen.

Monophysite! Is outrage!

Huh?
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« Reply #39 on: July 24, 2012, 04:18:38 PM »

In fact on the contrary since some Orthodox theologians such as Hieromonk Seraphim of Platina and Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokalamsk seem to deem it as a sort of symbol of European Christian culture.

This (if you are reporting it correctly) is probably the most insipid thing I have heard from those two great, holy men.

Well I can't guarantee that this is the thing that they said. From Metropolitan Hilarion I have read only one article where he spoke about his affection for Bach. From biography of Fr. Seraphim I remember that he recommended parents to use Classical Music in children's education. While most of it isn't originally Orthodox he seemed to deem it as so oozed in old Christian civilization in that extent that it can be used for warming one's heart for God.
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« Reply #40 on: July 24, 2012, 05:17:47 PM »

I enjoy classical music and actually play classical guitar...if anyone is interested:

http://www.youtube.com/user/frkyrillos/videos

God bless,
Fr. Kyrillos
Good to listen to.  Thank you Fr.
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« Reply #41 on: July 26, 2012, 08:23:06 AM »

From Photios Kontoglou:

"Music is of two kinds (as are the other arts also)—secular and ecclesiastical. Each of these has been developed by different feelings and different states of the soul. Secular music expresses worldly (i.e., carnal) feelings and desires. Although these feelings may be very refined (romantic, sentimental, idealistic, etc.), they do not cease being carnal. Nevertheless, many people believe that these feelings are spiritual. However, spiritual feelings are expressed only by ecclesiastical music. Only ecclesiastical music can truly express the secret movements of the heart, which are entirely different from those inspired and developed by secular music. That is, it expresses contrition, humility, suffering and godly grief, which, as Paul says, "worketh repentance to salvation." [2] Ecclesiastical music can also evoke feelings of praise, thanksgiving, and holy enthusiasm. Secular music, on the other hand—even the purest—expresses carnal emotions, even when it is inspired by suffering and affliction. This type of suffering, Paul calls "worldly grief," which "worketh death." [3]

Thus two kinds of music were formed, the secular, which arouses emotion—any kind of emotion—and ecclesiastical music, which evokes contrition. St. John Chrysostom strongly condemns the attempts that were made by some of his contemporaries to introduce into the Church secular music, the music of the theatre and the mime"


Continues here: http://stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Epilogue.htm
He wrote other things on art also.
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« Reply #42 on: July 26, 2012, 09:48:53 AM »

From Photios Kontoglou:

"Music is of two kinds (as are the other arts also)—secular and ecclesiastical. Each of these has been developed by different feelings and different states of the soul. Secular music expresses worldly (i.e., carnal) feelings and desires. Although these feelings may be very refined (romantic, sentimental, idealistic, etc.), they do not cease being carnal. Nevertheless, many people believe that these feelings are spiritual. However, spiritual feelings are expressed only by ecclesiastical music. Only ecclesiastical music can truly express the secret movements of the heart, which are entirely different from those inspired and developed by secular music. That is, it expresses contrition, humility, suffering and godly grief, which, as Paul says, "worketh repentance to salvation." [2] Ecclesiastical music can also evoke feelings of praise, thanksgiving, and holy enthusiasm. Secular music, on the other hand—even the purest—expresses carnal emotions, even when it is inspired by suffering and affliction. This type of suffering, Paul calls "worldly grief," which "worketh death." [3]

Thus two kinds of music were formed, the secular, which arouses emotion—any kind of emotion—and ecclesiastical music, which evokes contrition. St. John Chrysostom strongly condemns the attempts that were made by some of his contemporaries to introduce into the Church secular music, the music of the theatre and the mime"


Continues here: http://stanthonysmonastery.org/music/Epilogue.htm
He wrote other things on art also.
Okay. Undecided So what are you trying to say by this quote? Additionally, what authority does Photios Kontoglou bear that we need to take his thoughts seriously?
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« Reply #43 on: July 26, 2012, 09:49:28 AM »

Kontoglou's sharp division between secular and ecclesiastic art is wrong. Even St. John Klimakos disagrees: For lovers of God are moved to gladness, to divine love and to tears both by worldly and by spiritual songs; but lovers of pleasure to the opposite.
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« Reply #44 on: July 26, 2012, 12:31:42 PM »

Okay. Undecided So what are you trying to say by this quote? Additionally, what authority does Photios Kontoglou bear that we need to take his thoughts seriously?

From what I know, Photios is a very important Greek byzantine iconographer (artist).  I am trying to say exactly what he says, so you have two people who confess the same thing.
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