Eszter, Eliza

Benedict XVI talked about music and faith at the Liszt-concert

2011.05.30. 11:16


XVI Benedict the Pope greeted the audience in Hungarian after the National Philharmony Orchestra’s and Choir’s concert in the Vatican on 27 May, while President of Hungary Pál Schmitt opened the event in Italian. The Head of Church, who greatly appreciates music, called Franz Liszt ”a truly European artist”.

Other high dignitaries representating Hungary at the illustrious event were Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his wife, Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjén, Minister of Foreign Affairs János Martonyi, Minister of National Resources Miklós Réthelyi, Cardinal Péter Erdő Primate of Hungary and Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest, Protestant bishop István Szabó, orthodox vicar József Kalota, Catholic priest Pál Bolberitz, Piarist monk István Farkas and Catholic pastor and rapporteur of Roma pastorization Géza Dúl.

The concert was organised on the occassion of the Liszt Year and Hungary's acting presidency to the EU and, in respect for the Pope, it started at 6 o'clock. The President of Hungary pointed out in his speech: "It is a wonderful feeling for us, the people of Hungary that during the period of the EU presidency, when there is concentrated attention falling on us, due to the UNESCO Liszt Year there is also another language spoken besides politics; that of music". Mr Schmitt talked about the unique approach of Liszt towards faith and art as some kind of manifestation of one's religious devotion.

Following the concert, Benedict XVI expressed his gratitude to the musicians for an extremely high level performance and addressed the Hungarian delegation in their mother tongue. "I wish to address my respectful greeting to the President of the Republic of Hungary, Mr Pál Schmitt, to his wife and to the Hungarian Delegation. I thank him for the words he addressed to me and for very courteously offering us this splendid concert on the occasion of the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and the bicentenary of the birth of Franz Liszt, a truly European artist."

Prior to the concert, the Pope welcomed Mr and Mrs Schmitt in the room next to the Audience Hall, where the concert was to take place. They had a quarter-of-an-hour long discussion in English, after which they entered the hall together. The orchestra and the choir on the stage were girded by Swiss Guards.

The Pope devoted his full attention to the concert of the Hungarian National Philharmony Orchestra and Choir. The Audience Hall - named after Paul VI - had begun to fill up early in the afternoon, and it had almost reached its full capacity of 7000 people by 6 o'clock. Benedict XVI and President Schmitt were sitting in the middle of the hall, surrounded by students from the Hungarian Department of La Sapienza University and of the music academies of Rome, along with several Hungarian and foreign figures of the Church serving or studying in Rome. The audience gave a standing ovation and a rapturous applause at the end of the concert.

In his speech, Benedict XVI called Liszt „one of the greatest pianists of all time" and talked about the intense religious power that radiated from his music. The Pope mentioned that at the time when Liszt wrote the 13th Psalm, he was staying in Tivoli and Rome, in deep faith. In Liszt's music "it is the cry of man and of humanity that feels the weight of evil that is in the world. (...) But God does not abandon. (...) Liszt knows this, too. He prayed the psalm before he composed it." - reflected The Pope, who concluded his speech in Hungarian. „I renew my gratitude to the President of the Republic, the conductor, the tenor, the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Choir, to all the organizers, for having given us this moment in which our heart was invited to rise to the height of God."

After his speech, Benedict XVI greeted Zoltán Kocsis conductor, Mátyás Antal choirmaster and István Horváth tenor, then the high dignities of the delegation, Cardinal Péter Erdő and Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. On leaving the hall, he stopped by the orchestra and the choir to give them his applause. According to some reflections in the audience, the Hungarian musicians had overcome the acoustic difficulties of the enormous Paul VI Hall perfectly.