Letters of Composers: An Anthology, 1603-1945

Letters of Composers: An Anthology, 1603-1945

Letters of Composers: An Anthology, 1603-1945

Letters of Composers: An Anthology, 1603-1945

Excerpt

To the Burgomasters and Aldermen of Amsterdam

Amsterdam , March 30, 1603

Your Lordships:

So great is the correspondence between music and the soul that many, seeking out the essence of the latter, have thought it to be full of harmonious accords, to be, indeed, a pure harmony. All nature itself, to speak the truth, is nothing but a perfect music that the Creator causes to resound in the ears of man, to give him pleasure and to draw him gently to Himself. This we recognize at a glance in the excellent arrangement, the splendid proportions, and the orderly movements and revolutions of the celestial bodies. Therefore some have declared that the Firmament is the original Patron of Music and a true image of the elemental region, as can be observed in the number of elements and their four primary qualities and in the wondrous manner in which their opposites are reconciled.

This is the reason why the sages of ancient times, considering that each thing has the property of turning, moving, and inclining toward and in accordance with its like, made use of music not only to bring pleasure to the ear, but principally to move and moderate the emotions of the soul. They appropriated it for their oracles in order to gently instil yet firmly incorporate their doctrine into our minds, and thus, having awakened them, could raise them more easily to the contemplation and admiration of the divine. Orpheus among the pagans and David among the Hebrews made studies of these matters. The latter, truly inspired by the spirit of God, composed psalms, which he gave out to the master singers to be sounded on diverse instruments. His work has been preserved through the unwavering constancy of divine truth, but the work of these singers is unknown to us, owing to the ravages of time.

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