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Die geistige Macht der Musik / La puissance spirituelle de la musique / On the Spiritual Power of Music
7. Februar 2019

Die geistige Macht der Musik – Grenzen, Herausforderungen, Horizonte in ökumenischer Perspektive

Begrüßungsansprache von Direktor Jean Ehret

Sehr geehrte Kolleginnen und Kollegen,
Meine Damen und Herren,

Seien Sie herzlich willkommen an der LSRS zur Eröffnung der Vortragsreihe der Tagung „Die geistige Macht der Musik“. Sie ist eine Kooperationsveranstaltung, die unter der Regie der LSRS zusammen mit der Universität Luxemburg und der Universität Würzburg organisiert wurde.

Zunächst möchte ich auf die Kooperation als solche eingehen.

Besonders danke ich dem Dekan der Fakultät für Sprachwissenschaften und Literatur, Geisteswissenschaften, Kunst und Erziehungswissenschaften an der Universität Luxemburg, Herrn Professor Dr. Georg Mein für die auch finanzielle Unterstützung, seine Fakultät unserer Tagung zukommen gelassen hat. Darüber hinaus freue ich mich über die guten Beziehungen, die sich zwischen unseren jeweiligen Institutionen und den Kollegen entwickeln, dies ungeachtet ihrer unterschiedlichen Größe. Die Universität Luxemburg hat sich zu einer Forschungsuniversität entwickelt, die durch Internationalität, Innovation und Exzellenz ein sehr gutes Ranking aufweist. Die LSRS ist ein relativ kleines, junges Forschungs- und Bildungsinstitut, das über einen internationalen, multidisziplinären und multikonfessionellen Mitarbeiterstab verfügt. Sie kann zudem auf über 170 Jahre Präsenz von Theologie in Luxemburg zurückschauen. Die Kooperation mit der Universität Luxemburg ist für die LSRS ein Ansporn, uns hohen qualitativen Anforderungen zu stellen. Die Kooperationen entsprechen zudem dem Gesetz, das der Universität ihr Statut verleiht, wie auch dem Abkommen, das die LSRS mit dem Hochschulministerium unterzeichnet hat. Sie befördern interdisziplinäre Forschung, die sich unsere beiden Institutionen auf die Fahne geschrieben haben, um Wissen zu erwerben und ihren Beitrag zum Leben und zur Kohäsion auch unserer Gesellschaft zu leisten. Ich danke damit auch meinem Kollegen Professor Dr. Damien Sagrillo von der Universität Luxemburg für das Vertrauen und die gute Zusammenarbeit in der Vorbereitung dieser internationalen Tagung.

Besonders begrüße ich meinen Kollegen Prof. Dr. Friedhelm Brusniak von der Universität Würzburg und danke auch ihm, dass er sich auf das gemeinsame Projekt eingelassen hat. Unsere Tagung erhält eine weitere finanzielle Unterstützung von der Universität Würzburg sowie vom Fränkischen Sängerbund, dessen Vorsitzender Professor Brusniak ist. Im Namen der drei Organisatoren danke ich dem Sängerbund für diese substantielle finanzielle Bezuschussung, die eine hohe Wertschätzung unseres Projektes darstellt.

Let me now say a few words to introduce the topic of the conference.

The idea for this conference was born from an encounter with a musical work, namely the Heinz Werner Zimmermann’s Missa profana that I discovered through and with Friedhelm Brusniak. He will say more about this work tomorrow; I would like to highlight some elements that were important for the genesis of this conference.

Zimmermann’s mass fascinated me. It combines the high musical tradition of Bach’s BMinor Mass, which itself continues the Latin Ordo missae, with newer musical genres, such as jazz. It raises the question why genres should be considered as sacred or profane beyond a historical attribution. The enormous cast of a symphonic orchestra and a choir of more than 100 singers proves this to be a powerful work, but its power is not exhausted in terms of quantity: what else makes it so powerful, moving, poignant? As the Missa profana was conceived to be performed in the concert hall, it breaks another line between the sacred and the profane. Thus, it opens the question of the aesthetic, anthropological, spiritual association of musical design and experience.

The Missa profana exemplifies many questions that are linked to the topic of our conference. There are some more elements too. In fact, our conference theme integrates the experiences from community life: music, hymns and also the consolidation of confessional identities. Could there be a possibility that, through music, interdenominational relationships are established beyond existing boundaries, that ecumenism develops better than just through concepts and church orders? In how far is the power of music a tool for Church politics today, for creating unity?

Finally, the relationship of music and theology needs to be addressed. In how far is the power of music a divine power? The question is all the more explosive in how music shows that theological language is only ever relative. In fact, music offers an insight in a pre-linguistic experience that can be considered as a theological expression or impression. It brings to light the linguistic mediations both in their cultural relativity and necessity, even inside established reception communities. Thus, the question is raised: how and what can theology learn from music – and vice versa?

We started our conference yesterday with a round table on the meaning and the experience of the power of music. “Power” is quite an ambivalent word; for instance, the power of music has been compared to a charm; we stressed its ability to lead people towards transcending themselves while at the same time creating a deep communion within themselves and with others. The notion of the power of music raises the question about the one who exercises power and about the disposition of people who allow music to exercise power on them. Psychology and cultural education are essential elements in this context, particularly as music is intrinsically about remembrance. The conference of Professor Meinrad Walter showed some examples of the power of music, be it its power to make the act of faith manifest, or to offer as a nonverbal experience what theology would need to develop in many pages, or to make the mystery of spiritual transformation palpable, or to allow syncretism without losing coherence.

Today our work goes on while we strive to deepen our questioning and understanding of the power of music. Three colleagues apologize for not being able to join us: Ms Grochulski and Ms Venturelli are suffering from illnesses: we wish them a good and speedy recovery. Dr. Djob-li-kana could not obtain his visa in time to be here. Their absence allows us to introduce three half hour discussions that shall really focus on the notion of the power of music, on our impressions, questions, insights, and on the changing idea we have of this notion as the conference moves on. Our goal is to work on the power of music, on its uses and abuses, on key concepts, and its usefulness for studying and teaching music, theology, art, and, perhaps, politics.

We will organize our work today and tomorrow in two parts. The first part will look at the power of music – it is interesting that I use the verb “to look” while speaking of music – through a historical analysis: The power of music as intention and experience. We will start from ancient history and biblical theology, both in the Old and the New Testament, and then move towards newer, and actually contemporary examples. We will work on some exemplary phenomenology of the power of music; we will work on our documentation. The second step of our work is interested in the aesthetic, philosophical, and theological reflection and discussion of the power of music. This afternoon particularly this will be in the context of Church music, and tomorrow morning in a more philosophical setting.

At the beginning of my presentation I asked the question how far the power of music is divine power. I hope that tomorrow at noon, we will solve the problem and thus enable other colleagues to only have to read our book to save themselves having to undertake their reflections own on this topic! I am sure you understand the irony in my affirmation. We are working on some of the most fascinating topics of human life, and we doing so in a cultural context that is marked by the dissolution of identities as well as the rise of strong claims of identity, by pluralism as well as by the necessity of unity, and by European secularism as well as the presence of strong religious belief and practice throughout the world. I am convinced that our reflection on the power of music may offer some insights to reconsider these global topics from an alternative point of view, too.

Now I have to hand over the floor to Professor Brusniak who chairs our first session. He and all those presiding have been instructed to cut speeches after exactly 20 minutes. If you are still in your prolegomena, this is your problem, not ours. We will have 10 minutes to catch our breath and to enter into discussion with the speaker. Thank you for your presence, your attention, and I hope you will enjoy the conference.

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