Classical Music

Kids in Defense of the Culture

The shock troops against Conservatism, Inc. have arrived. Witness the rise of the groypers. These cowboys sent people ducking beneath barstools the moment they set a spurred boot in the Culture War saloon. It has been amusing, to say the least, but not everyone is laughing. Some have even warned that the pale rider of [...]

Our Patient and Indulgent Mother Church

A few decades ago, I had lunch with Daniel Carroll in Howard County, Maryland, during which he used a pop-up toaster in his grand dining room, which was hung with ancestral portraits. There were many such portraits, for Dan was a direct descendant of the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll [...]

What Is Sacred Music?

I have sung regularly every Sunday at Mass for nearly thirty years now, two years more than I’ve lived as a baptized and confirmed Catholic. As I’m not much use serving on councils or committees (although I did teach CCD for several years after being received into the Church), I decided at the start of [...]

Music for the Holy Souls

The biographies of classical composers could give the impression that irregular behavior has been almost a necessary attribute of great talent. A particularly rank example is the uniquely inventive Renaissance composer of sacred music and madrigals, Carlo Gesualdo, Prince of Venosa, who murdered his wife and her lover, mutilated their corpses, and exposed them naked [...]

Sirius-XM Sexualizes and Politicizes Classical Music

One of the cherished respites in my life is the Symphony Hall channel on Sirius-XM Radio. It’s a getaway, an oasis, a safe-space from the political madness and cultural insanity ruining so much of everyday life. When I need to escape the nattering news cycles, the toxic noise, the gagging cultursmog, the Symphony Hall channel [...]

The Sacred Music of Stravinsky

“Music praises God. Music is well or better able to praise him than the building of the church in all its decoration; it is the church's greatest ornament.”  ∼ Igor Stravinsky (1882-1971) Igor Stravinsky is everyone's idea of a “modern composer.” The riot that accompanied the premiere of his 1913 ballet The Rite of Spring has [...]

Beethoven and the Catholic Church

Ludwig van Beethoven, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart form the great trinity of Western classical composers. Of the three, it is Beethoven whose religious beliefs have proven the most elusive. We know all about the devout Lutheranism of Bach, who wrote his music “for the glory of God and the refreshment of the [...]

Musical Quietude: Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel

We cannot grasp music intellectually, but we can let ourselves be touched by it.  ~ David Steindl-Rast, OSB And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart (Lk 2.19). HELP WANTED: Cello player. Viola would suffice, but I’d prefer a cello—doesn’t it have a more mellow, deeper tone? Plus, I like how the cello [...]

Remembering Mozart

I seem to remember reading somewhere that if you were to stretch along a continuum all the notes Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart ever produced, at least a billion miles would be needed to cover the distance. Whoever wrote that had no doubt been a keen and appreciative student of Mozart’s music, but clearly knew nothing about [...]

20th-Century (and Later) Musical Treasures

In this column, it has been my special brief to pursue and attempt to resuscitate the reputation of great 20th century and contemporary classical music that I think has been neglected.  There is a lot of it, which is why I published a book 10 years ago, titled Surprised by Beauty: A Listener's Guide to [...]

Making Music

Like Proust’s “episode of the madeleine” which occasioned an involuntary flood of memory, I remembered a flush of things when I chanced upon a Coolidge-Dawes campaign button among items in one of my grandmother’s souvenir boxes. Charles G. Dawes was a fitting companion for the classically-trained Coolidge, whose eloquence has been ignored by jaded historians. [...]

Eccentrics, Anomalies, and Forgotten Gems: Reilly’s June Music Review

As I was saying before we were interrupted by the time and space constraints of May, we will now address some of the fine music from the late 19th and early 20th centuries that recent CD releases have made available to us.  As usual, my focus is on composers whose works were, quite undeservedly, nearly [...]

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