Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Doctor Faustus chapter 24 : Palestrina

Joseph Mallord Turner : Palestrina composition 1828

1912 SZ with his wife joins AL and RS in Palestrina for a holiday

24.1 The town of Palestrina :

Thomas Mann spent some time there in 1895 and, two years later, during the long harsh summer of 1897, he stayed over again, with his brother Heinrich. ( Two times like Al )

The name of the city has a musical link

Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (c. 1525 – 2 February 1594) was an Italian Renaissance composer of sacred music and the best-known 16th-century representative of the Roman School of musical composition. He has had a lasting influence on the development of church music, and his work has often been seen as the culmination of Renaissance polyphony.

And it is the title of an opera by Hans Pfitzner ( and in a book about Musical genius, Mann is confident that the reader will make the link )

Palestrina is an opera by the German composer Hans Pfitzner, first performed in 1917. The composer referred to it as a Musikalische Legende (musical legend), and wrote the libretto himself, based on a legend about the Renaissance musician Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, who saves the art of contrapuntal music (polyphony) for the Church in the sixteenth century, through his composition of the Missa Papae Marcelli. The wider context is that of the European Reformation and the role of music in relation to it. The character of Cardinal Borromeo is depicted, and a General Congress of the Council of Trent is the centrepiece of Act II.
The conductor of the premiere was Bruno Walter. On 16 February 1962, the day before he died, Walter ended his last letter with: "Despite all the dark experiences of today I am still confident that Palestrina will remain. The work has all the elements of immortality".

But nothing is coincidence in this book. There are two “ bad “ guys in classical nusic according to Mann and many others : Richard Strauss and Hans Pfitzner. Both of them sort of sucked up to Hitler and his cronies during the war years. Strauss, even signed the petition against Thomas Mann in 1933
So when evil occurs in the book, the infection from Esmeralda and the visit of old Nick, it is announced by an Opera of these two evil composers: Salome and Palestrina.

By this Mann endorsed what was decided by the American "reeducation" - governement in Germany in the first years after the war, that Strauss and Pfitzner ( and Sibilius - but for other reasons ) were dangerous and that they made dangerous music.

Still Mann rejects the notion that there is a good Germany and a bad Germany – here Beethoven there Hitler; here Goethe, there Goebbels. As Mann viewed it, the conflicting forces were always intertwined, particularly in such poweful figures as Luther, Wagner, and Nietzsche. [ … ] From Mann’s perspective, coming to terms with Nazi-Germany could not take the form of self-righteous finger – pointing at the evil in others, but rather in the struggle against the evil within oneself.

See Todd Kontje, The Cambridge introduction to Thomas Mann, 2011

The town is a scenery of both early Christianity - Saint Augustinus like -(orchard and all) - and Classical heritage

They stay with the Manardi family in the Manardi palazzo

Signora ( Nellli ) Manardi , a widow like Frau Rodde        
daughter Amelia ( 13 yeras old ! and who asks herself if there are ghosts in the house : Spiriti ? Spiriti ?
the two brothets of la Signora Manardi and Alfo, hardened bachelors both of them
Dario Manardi and his sickly wife ( brother in law of la Signora )

Fa sangue il vino, the wine makes blood ( Christian symbolism )

forks and knives abound : like prongs in hell ?

AL is still working on jis LLL but again it has , even if it is genial work, something of a carricature... it is too well done...

AL and RS live a solitary live in Palestrina, a double solitary life...they are not a couple
They live a life of monks - a shared chastity

Easy for AL, he is of the Noli me tangere type, a man of distatste, of evasion of reserve of aloofness

Noli me tangere, meaning "touch me not", is the Latin version of words spoken, according to John 20:17, by Jesus to Mary Magdalene when she recognized him after his resurrection

Chastity in the case of AL because of his illness ?

How RS manages, ( in the words of SZ, a a roué : a debauched lecherous man ), he does not understand

SZ is in one sense relieved that he leaves this sex - less or love -less environment.

Time for the Devil ...


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