Peter Clark Posted May 23, 2008 Share Posted May 23, 2008 From the Hebrew Song of Songs, though St John of the Cross and beyond there has been a link between the perception of the divine and the erotic impulse, probably best exemplified in Bernini’s famous Transverberation of St Teresa (based, incidentally, on the saint’s own account of her religious experiences). This connection is maintained and even exploited, I think, in the music of Messiaen; not just in the Turangalila symphony whose title makes clear the music’s inspiration, but also in his theological music (for Messiaen had always claimed that his music was theological rather than mystical). I have recently been learning the Priere après la Communion from Livre du Saint Sacrement (the only movement in that book I dare to play at the moment!) and I was struck by the extreme sensuousness of the harmonic language, especially in bars 9-11 and 26-33, which have an abundance of major sixths, sevenths, major sevenths and so on. At the other end of his career, Messiaen ended his first published organ piece, La Banquet Celeste, with a C# 7 chord which one now well-known organist described to me some 25 years ago as “orgasmic”. I suspect that psychologists may tell us that the same part of the brain is responsible for religious experiences and erotic experiences. Any thoughts? Peter Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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