The return of Music to the Lodge room

Wikipedia describes Masonic Lodge music thus:

Masonic music has been defined as “music used in connection with the ritual and social functions of freemasonry”.

An Essay about Masonic Music from “A Page about Freemasonry

By ANDREW M BERGMAN, Lodge Mutual #53 GL South Africa

(Quoting sources from H.C.Robbins Landon)

IN THE 18th century Western Europe was swept with Freemasonry, membership of the Brotherhood being not only popular, but also highly fashionable. This was no less true in musical circles.

On 5 December 1784 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was proposed for membership in the Viennese Lodge “Zur Wohltatigkeit”.

On 14 December, he was accepted as an Entered Apprentice. Ten days later he visited the most noteworthy Austrian Lodge of all, “Zur wahren Eintracht”, of which the Grand Master was the famous humanitarian scientist Ignaz von Born.

Interestingly enough, Mozart probably persuaded his friend Haydn to become a Mason, and Haydn was supposed to be initiated in the fashionable Lodge “Zur wahren Eintracht” on 28 January 1785.

Mozart was there to receive Haydn, but the news had reached Eszterhaza Castle (where Haydn was Kapellmeister to Prince Esterhazy) too late, and Haydn’s reception was therefore postponed.

On 11 February, Haydn was initiated but Mozart could not attend since he playing the premiere of his D minor concerto K466 at the Mehlgrube in Vienna. At the end of March Leopold Mozart (Wolfgang’s father) also joined the Mason’s and was rapidly promoted to Master by special dispensation. To complete this distinguished society of 18th century musical Masons, one should perhaps add that Beethoven was also a Freemason.

In the turmoil of the was with France, the Austrians grew panicky about “secret societies” and in the mid 1790s Masonry was forbidden in Austria and remained so until the end of World War I. The hard world of Metternich’s “Realpolitik” could tolerate no society which was dedicated to the brotherhood of man and supposedly “to the abolition of political borders”.

Mozart has left us a considerable heritage of Masonic pieces, most of them intended for actual use in Viennese Lodges.

As Mozart was not officially affiliated to any of the big Viennese churches, Mozart wrote some of his most interesting music for the Great Architect. There are even those who say that in his opera “The Magic Flute”, Mozart fell foul of the Lodges as a result of some mystical imagery which could well be interpreted as “revealing secrets of Freemasonry”. The fact is that any Masonic imagery used by Mozart could only be seen by Masons. This is no more that Shakespeare did, often creating a little “laugh on the side” for his Brethren, that would not be picked up by non-Masons.

On the CD entitled “Freimaurermusik” (Masonic Music [Decca 425 722-2]), much of Mozart’s Lodge Music is preserved.

The cover depicts a reproduction of a painting by an anonymous artist from the “Historisches Museum der Stadt Wien” of a scene from a Viennese Lodge. South Africa Masons who are familiar with the differences between the rituals in various Constitutions will agree that the layout of this Temple is more similar to our South African/Netherlandic models than either English, Scottish or Irish.

Tracks include “O heiliges Band der Freundschaft treuer Bruder” (Oh, holy bond of the friendship of true Brothers) and the “Gesellenreise” (the Journey of the Fellowcraft) which sings “Die ihr einem neuen Grade der Erkenntnis nun euch naht…” (You who now approach a new Degree of understanding…).

Special “Maurerische Trauermusik” for a Lodge of Mourning underlines the specific use for which Mozart penned his notes.

“Lasst uns mit geschlungen Handen, Bruder, diese Arbeit enden…” (With clasped hands, brethren, let us end this work…) is the final track.

Tenor Werner Krenn, baritone Tom Krause and the Edinburgh Festival Chorus sing with the London Symphony Orchestra under the Baton of Istvan Kertasz – a memorable musical experience, even for non-Masons.

An indispensable asset to the collection of any Director of Music, the insert leaflet gives translations of the songs in English, French and Italian. The CD is available (probably on order only) from any good classical music store.

Andrew Bergman

An Alternative to Live Musician is available

Music in Lodge so much improved the ritual that it should be present at all Lodge meetings. Sadly only a handful of Lodges have talented Organists or Musicians to play live music. Some Lodges have adapted to adding recorded music during Lodge ceremonies which is a viable substitute. Sometimes finding the right music to play is as difficult as finding a Musician.

My Lodge Organist website offers an easy and free way to add the Organs tones to any Masonic ritual or ceremony. Although a login is required to get to the music there is no charge for the service and it offers a playlist for almost all occasions and them some.

You can find the site here -> My Lodge Organist

Of course a PC or smartphone with internet access and some speakers to amplify the sound are all that is required. The site offers hints on where and how to play the tunes it contains plus some interesting articles on Masonic Music and some interesting recordings.