After listening to a piano concert on Saturday evening, Pope Benedict offered his reflections on “great music,” saying that it can become prayer.
The concert was held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the International Piano Academy and featured the Chinese pianist Jin Ju.
Ju took his audience on a musical journey through different historical periods, playing pieces by Bach, Scarlatti, Mozart, Czerny, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky and Liszt.
At the end of the concert the Pope expressed his thanks to the academy and to the pianist, who "enabled us to savor ... the emotional impact of the music she played."
Speaking to the audience in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father said, "This concert has, once again, given us the chance to appreciate the beauty of music, a spiritual and therefore universal language, and hence the appropriate vehicle for understanding and union between individuals and peoples. Music forms part of all cultures and, we could say, accompanies all human experiences, from suffering to pleasure, from hatred to love, from sadness to joy, from death to life."
The Pope also addressed the wide range of history covered by the performance, saying, "over the centuries and the millennia music has always been used to give form to what cannot be expressed with words, because it arouses emotions otherwise difficult to communicate. It is, then, no coincidence that all civilizations have given importance and value to music in its various forms and expressions.
"Music, great music,” he observed, "distends the spirit, arouses profound emotions and almost naturally invites us to raise our minds and hearts to God in all situations of human existence, the joyful and the sad.”
Thus, he explained, “Music can become prayer."