Posted by: Nyxks | September 10, 2007

Mozart the Freemason

Mozart the Freemason
by Jacques Henry © 2006
Inner Traditions
ISBN 1-59477-128-6
139 pages includes Appendices and Index
Paperback
$14.95 (U.S.)

This is one of those books which found its way to my mailbox without a specific request for it. Freemasonry is not a primary interest of mine. Nor is the music of Mozart, except for the fact that I enjoy listening to it. I certainly don’t have a musical background, and never studied music history. None-the-less, I found this an interesting work.

When you think of music with a Masonic theme, do you automatically think of “The Magic Flute” by Mozart? Me, too. Musicologist Jacques Henry, artistic director of an annual Mozart festival in the Drome region of France, and an expert on the symbolism in Mozart’s work, produces an exploration of masonic themes throughout the final years of Mozart’s life. It is a translation of a work originally published in French in 1991. The author is also a Freemason (inspired to become such through his study of Mozart) and conveys the result of his researches into both the effort of initiation on Mozart’s perceptions, and the effect of Mozart’s music on those who heard it.

I am, admittedly, not a musicologist, a Mozart scholar, nor a Freemason, so I fit neatly into the target audience of this book which unlike most books on the topic is designed to be both understood and appreciated by the non-specialist. It is moderately successful in this intent, although the discussion of the minutia of musical composition sometimes wandered into areas which were very unfamiliar for me.

Mozart’s Masonic life covered less than a decade, and during this time he wrote three marches, one song, six cantatas, and an opera which are acknowledged as having Masonic themes and inspiration. Prior to his initiation he had produced at least one opera and three songs on Masonic themes. This comprised only a small part of his overall output, but is none-the-less an impressive array of writing. Several of his compositions prior to initiation convey much the same feeling and information as his later works. It may be mere coincidence, but it is more, likely a result of contacts made amongst other composers and musicians who were already Freemasons.

I will state, here and now, that a good solid understanding of music (and not just knowing what you like to hear) is almost a prerequisite for a thorough appreciation of this work; and a reasonable selection of the recorded works of Mozart should be available for listening too wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.

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