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Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and his Masonic Music
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mozart.jpg

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The song you are listening to is one part of the composition
called The Magic Flute it was written by Mozart to play in his Lodge while enjoying refreshments.
 
MOZART AND HIS MASONIC MUSIC
by Robert G. Davis 

The period of history which encompassed the Baroque, the Rococco, and the
Viennese Classical schools of music can be described as the Enlightenment Era.
In my thinking, this roughly spanned the 200 years of the 17th and 18th Centuries.

It was a period of great contributions in the arts. To give some examples, in its
early stages it was characterized by the Dutch school of painting, headed by
Rembrandt and Vermeer; the French artists Poussin and
Lebrun; the architect Christopher Wren; the writers Moliere, Racine, Milton,
Shakespeare, and Bacon; the composers Corelli, Vivaldi, Scarlatti, Pachabel,
Albinoni, Handel and Bach; the poets Goethe and Burns; the philosophers Kant,
Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot. And it ended with such musicians as Gluck,
C.P.E. Bach, J.C. Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Boccherini, Beethoven, and Schubert.

It was a period which gave us the sonata, the suite, the rondeau (rondo), the
fugue, the concerto, the opera, the cantata, the art of improvisation, the
application of tonal rivalries between solo instruments, etc. It was a period
of enormous output, both in variation of composition and in virtuosity of
performance.

It was also a period of fertile growth in Masonic philosophy and ritual. And
it was the time when much music was composed for the fraternity. During his
brief 7 years as a Mason (1784-1791), Brother Mozart brought his unsurpassed
gift of creativity and virtuosity to the fraternity in a series of
compositions which are still universally played and used in today's
ceremonies of Masonry. The spirit of the Enlightenment shines throught
Mozart's music, and this is nowhere as true, perhaps, as in his Masonic
music.

That music falls into three broad categories--music he wrote specifically for
the lodge, music intended for the public built on Masonic ideas, and music he
wrote for other purposes, but which were adapted during his lifetime, either
by himself or others, for use in lodge. Lodges frequently held concerts for
charity, and Mozart wrote much music to be performed at those concerts.

As for the music Mozart wrote for use in lodge, the most obvious question to
a non-Mason might be why music would be needed at all. The Masonic ritual
makes many provsions for music. The process of walking from one place to
another in the lodge room was and is often accompanied by music. Many such
"trips about the lodge" represent the passage of time, and in those cases,
music was especially appropriate. Music was also used before and after
prayer, and for entrances into the lodge. In England, it is still common to
sing the "closing ode" at the end of a lodge meeting.
 

The Blue Lodge of Freemasonry (the original and
foundation of all other presently-practiced systems of the
Fraternity) is divided into three Degrees, or stages of
membership--the Entered Apprentice Degree, the Fellow Craft
Degree, and the Master Mason Degree.

The Fellow Craft Degree is important in the story of Mozart's Masonic music
because he wrote one of his most beautiful Masonic works, Gesellenreise
(Fellow Craft's Journey) for the initiation of his father, Leopold Mozart, on
April 16, 1785.

To fully appreciate the music, it is helpful to know a little about the
degree itself, and about the Masonic histories of both Leopold and Wolfgang.
 

The Fellow Craft Degree represents, in terms of the stonemason's craft, the
status of Journeyman. In terms of Freemasonry, it represents manhood in its
full vigor and strength, as the first Degree represents youth and the third
Degree represents the wisdom and maturity of age.

The ritual of the Fellow Craft Degree takes classical education as one of its
strongest symbols. The Mason receiving the Degree is reminded of the five
classic Orders of Architecture, as well as the seven Liberal Arts and
Sciences--Grammar, Rhetoric, Logic, Arithmetic, Geometry, Music and
Astronomy.

The instruction in the ritual takes the form of the
ascent of winding stairs, with each step representing a new
acquisition of knowledge and insight. That ascent is the
Fellow Craft's journey.

It symbolizes more than mere instruction, however. The journey is the journey
of life, which at this stage is a preparation for productive living as a
spiritual being. Its purpose is to help awaken the individual to his life not
just as an intelligent animal but as a mind--free and untrammeled--and as a
spirit, bound to all humanity by the Fatherhood of God.  The lyrics selected
by Mozart for Gesellenreise include:
        You, who now are risen higher
        Unto Wisdom's high abode,
        Wander steadfast higher, higher
        Know, it is the noblest road.
        Only spirit without blight
        May approach the source of Light.

Even in this short passage, you can see the elements of the Enlightenment and
of Masonry--the idea that both life and initiation was a journey of stages,
the idea of Light, and of drawing nearer to it. The search for wisdom and
understanding.

In the introduction to his book Mozart and Masonry Paul Nettl writes,
". . . there is a Masonic secret, a mystery, an experience
that cannot be taught or explained because it lies, like
every mystic experience, beyond the realm of controlled
consciousness. At its deepest level it is identical with
intense feeling and empathy. The secret of Freemasonry is
the secret of experiencing true love for all mankind, a
positive attitude towards man and life, and broad
affirmation of God. It is the realization that beyond the
dark and material world there is a realm of light towards
which all men must strive."

It is this journey, this secret, which Mozart
celebrated in music for his father.

Wolfgang Mozart was apparently sponsored in his petition to join Masonry by
the Baron Otto Freiherr von Gemmingen-Hornberg, Master of Zur Wohltataigkeit
(Charity) Lodge. Mozart had met Gemmingen in Mannheim. His name was put
before the Lodge on December 5, 1784, and he appears to have received the
Entered Apprentice Degree on December 14. On January 7, 1785, he re ceived
the Fellow Craft Degree at
"Zur wahren Eintracht" (True Harmony) Lodge at the request of his home Lodge.
On April 22, he received the Master Mason Degree.

But Jacques Chailley, in The Magic Flute Unveiled: Esoteric
Symbolism in Mozart's Masonic Opera, points out that
Mozart's association with Freemasonry long predated his
petition to the Fraternity. At the age of 11, Mozart set the
Masonic poem An die Freude to music and sent it as a gift to
Dr. Joseph Wolf who had treated him for smallpox. At 16, he
composed an aria on the words of the ritual hymn O heiliges
Band. At 17, he was selected by Gebler to compose the
incidental music for the Masonic drama Thamos (which he
revised in 1779).

Leopold Mozart, it was announced in Wolfgang's Lodge on March 28, 1785, had
been proposed for membership. As Leopold was about to leave the city, a
dispensation to proceed more rapidly than usual was sought and obtained. On
April 6, he was initiated as an Entered Apprentice. On April 16, he was
passed to the Degree of Fellow Craft, with Wolfgang in attendance. On April
22, Leopold became a Master Mason. Two days later, father and son attended
the Lodge Zur gerkronten Hoffnung to honor the Lodge's Master, Ignaz Born.
Wolfgang composed a new cantata for the occasion (K.471). The day after the
concert, Leopold left for Salzburg. His son was never to see him again.

Mozart's Masonic Music is rich and varied, but any listing is subject to
criticism. The simple reason is that music played a very important part in
Masonry. Music was used in the Degrees, performed at refreshment as
entertainment (which would have been an experience--Mozart's Lodge contained
some of the finest performers in Europe, and we know from minutes of the
Lodge meetings that they often sat around after Lodge had formally closed and
improvised into the small hours ofthe morning) and at special public
concerts, frequently given by the Lodges for charitable purposes. So we have
Masonic ritual music, music written for or adapted for entertainment at
Masonic functions, and music on Masonic themes, not intended for performance
in Lodge, some of which as we have seen, was written before he joined the
fraternity. The following listing (based on the work of Charles Tupper)
contains elements of all these, with notes showing their Masonic relevance.
 

Lied: An die Freude, K.53 (setting of a Masonic text)

Psalm 129: De Profundis Clamavi for mixed choir and orchestra K.93 (composed
in Salzburg in 1771 and later adapted to Freemasonic work by the composer)

Lied: O heiliges Band der Freudschaft for tenor and Piano K.148 (composed in
1772 and adopted for Masonry; probably sung at refreshment)

Graduale ad Festum B.M.V.: "Sancta Maria, mater Die for mixed choir and
orchestra K.273 (composed in 1777, it
was immediately added to the musical canon of the Lodge)

Incidental Music: Thamos Konig in Agypten, K.345 (incidental music for a
play, the themes are heavily Masonic - considered a forerunner of The Magic
Flute)

Canonic Adagio for 2 bassett Horns and Bassoon, K.410 (composed in 1784,
ritual procession music)

Adagio for 2 Clarinets and 3 Bassett Horns, K.411 (probably intended as a
processional entrance for the Lodge)

Cantata: "Dir, Seele des Weltalls," K.429 (composed for a public Masonic
celebration)

Gesellenreise: "Die ihr einem neuen Grade," K.468 (composed for his father's
Fellow Craft Degree)

Cantata: Die Maurerfreude "Sehen wie dem starren Forscherauge," K.471
(composed in April, 1785, to honor Ignaz von Born, Grand Master of the United
Lodges)

[According to the records of the Lodge, Mozart wrote the music for two
additional songs during 1785--Des Todes Werk and Vollbracht ist die Arbeit
der Meister (The Work of Death and The Work of the Masters is
Finished)--which have been lost]

Maurerissche Trauermusik (Masonic Funeral Music) K.477 (written for the
memorial services commemorating the deaths of Mozart's brother Masons Duke
George August of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Count Franz Veith Edler von
Galantha in November, 1785, and performed in a Lodge of Sorrows)

Piano Concerto in Eb Major, K.482 (written for and performed at a concert
given by the Lodge Zur gekronten Hoffnung, December 15, 1785)

Song: Zerfliesset Heut, Geliebte Bruder," K.483 (written to
welcome newly-formed Lodges)

Song: "Ihr unsre neuen Leiter," K.484 (written to welcome the newly elected
Grand Master of the United Lodges)

Symphony #39 in Eb, K.543 (written as a celebration of the Craft and the joy
of living {see Alfred Einstein's notes on the Masonic significance of the
work})

Adagio and Fugue in C Minor, K.546 (not originally written for the Masonic
canon, it was quickly adopted by the Lodges)

Adagio and Rondo for Flute, Oboe, Viola, Cello, and Celesta, K.617 (written
while Mozart was working on The Magic Flute and performed at refreshment in
Lodge)

Motet: Ave Verum Corpus, K.618 (originally written
for Anton Stoll's choir school at Baden, the work was
quickly adopted for Lodge use)

Cantata: "Die ihr des unermesslichen Weltalls Schopfer ehrt," K.619 (during
Mozart's last year, he paused during composition of The Magic Flute, La
Clemenza di Tito and the Requiem to compose this piece at the request of his
Lodge.)

Cantata: "Kleine Freimaurerkantate" (little Masonic cantata) K.623 (written
for the dedication of the Lodge Zur neugekronten Hoffnung)

Chorus: "Lasst uns mit geschlungen Handen" K.623b (written as part of the
same dedication service as above)

Opera: "Die Zauberflote" (The Magic Flute) K.620

Mozart died at fifty-five minutes past midnight, on December 5, 1791. The
Masons held a Lodge of Sorrows in his memory, and the oration there delivered
was printed by Ignez Alberti, a member of Mozart's own Lodge, who had
published the first libretto of Die Zauberflote.

 

Webmaster Christopher Voorhis MM