Beethoven's Views on Religion

From historical evidence, today’s scholars know that Beethoven did not attend Mass regularly, and from that they inferred that he was not an orthodox Christian. His actual religious beliefs are not clearly defined, but references in his letters imply a firm belief in an ultimate, benign, and intelligent Power.

As early as 1818, Beethoven showed genuine interest in "true church music", which to him was defined by the musical styles of the earliest composers of religious music, like Palestrina. He wrote notes to himself to look through all the monastic church chorals and strophes in the most correct translations and to find perfect prosody in psalms and hymns. At the same time, he became fascinated with the texts of the Mass, perhaps drawing less conventional interpretations from the words, which he meant to represent in a Mass of his own composition. As he explored church music with increasing enthusiasm, he located sources of information, through books or people, in musical or philosophical contexts, to contribute to his quest.

See Also: Beethoven's Purpose in writting the Missa Solemnis

Return to Missa Solemnis Home Page