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The Music of Chopin and the Rule of St Benedict

A Mystical Panorama of Life

Bernard Sawicki

The book defines and describes the relationships between Chopin’s music and one of the oldest but still used monastic rules, the Rule of Saint Benedict. Its goal is to construct bridges between music and spirituality. Since these two realms both refer to human life, the chapters of the book deal with current and existential issues such as beginnings, authority, weakness, interactions, emotions and others. The Rule of Saint Benedict and Chopin’s music appear to belong to the same stylistic category of human culture, characterized by nobleness, moderation and high sensibility. In this way two seemingly incompatible realities reveal their affinity to each other, and the one may explain the other. The book is situated at the boundary of musicology and theology. Its discourse is illustrated by many examples, carefully chosen from Chopin’s music.
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How to end?


Reaching the end of our deliberations, it would perhaps be fitting to devote some attention to the question of endings themselves. The fact that everything comes to an end is not something we ever doubt. However, we know less about how and when to end. Yet this is in many ways an existential subject, although very much neglected. Difficult as it is to make a start, coming to an end can be even harder. Our habits and emotions have great influence in this area. The knowledge that something has been started should evoke an attitude of responsibility. External circumstances are most frequently the problem, but so are our limitations. We are quite often aware how fragile our existence is, and how everything conspires against not only us, but also all our undertakings. Emil Cioran described it in a manner that is both vivid and very true: “Every being emerges from no one knows where, gives out its little cry and disappears without trace”.18 The question about the meaning and permanence of human actions cannot but be linked to the question of the transcendental dimension of our life. Regardless of the answer we give, we experience only too painfully how much we are “on a journey”, subject to the flow of time and given little influence on what we do. From an eschatological perspective we might say that the only thing that is certain is death, and that sounds to us pompous at best. In practice, however, contemporary...

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