1st Edition

Contemporary Music and Spirituality

Edited By Robert Sholl, Sander Van Maas Copyright 2017
    384 Pages
    by Routledge

    364 Pages
    by Routledge

    The flourishing of religious or spiritually-inspired music in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries remains largely unexplored. The engagement and tensions between modernism and tradition, and institutionalized religion and spirituality are inherent issues for many composers who have sought to invoke spirituality and Otherness through contemporary music.

    Contemporary Music and Spirituality provides a detailed exploration of the recent and current state of contemporary spiritual music in its religious, musical, cultural and conceptual-philosophical aspects. At the heart of the book are issues that consider the role of secularization, the claims of modernity concerning the status of art, and subjective responses such as faith and experience.

    The contributors provide a new critical lens through which it is possible to see the music and thought of Cage, Ligeti, Messiaen, Stockhausen as spiritual music. The book surrounds these composers with studies of and by other composers directly associated with the idea of spiritual music (Harvey, Gubaidulina, MacMillan, Pärt, Pott, and Tavener), and others (Adams, Birtwistle, Ton de Leeuw, Ferneyhough, Ustvolskaya, and Vivier) who have created original engagements with the idea of spirituality.

    Contemporary Music and Spirituality is essential reading for humanities scholars and students working in the areas of musicology, music theory, theology, religious studies, philosophy of culture, and the history of twentieth-century culture.

    Introduction: What is a Contemporary spiritual Music? Robert Sholl and Sander van Maas

    Part 1: Passions

    1. For Whom the Bells Toll: Arvo Pärt’s Passio, Metamodernism and the Appealing Promise of Tintinnabulation Andrew Shenton

    2. Sacrificial Passions: The Influence of Wagner and Scruton in James MacMillan’s The Sacrifice and St John Passion Dominic Wells

    3. Kenosis in Contemporary Music and Postmodern Philosophy Peter Bannister

    4. Synoptic Passions: Gubaidulina’s St John Passion in the post-Jungian Era Anna McCready

    Part 2: Composer Studies

    5. Canon as an agent of revelation in the music of Ligeti Amy Bauer

    6. Music and Belief: The figure of Singularity in Galina Ustvolskaya’s Work Rokus de Groot

    7. Zen’ in the Art of Tōru Takemitsu: listening as vehicle for inner discovery Peter Burt

    8. John Cage’s Journey into Silence James Pritchett

    9. Stockhausen’s Spirituality Konrad Boehmer

    10. Claude Vivier at the End Jonathan Goldman

    Part 3: Perspectives and ‘Prospectives’

    11. Searching for the Elusive Obvious: Memory, Forgiveness, Catharsis, and Transcendence in Contemporary Spiritual Music Robert Sholl

    12. The Curvatures of Salvation: Messiaen, Stockhausen, and Adams Sander van Maas

    13. In Defence of Complexity: The New Spiritual Music’s Farewell to Modernism Burcht Pranger

    14. An Awkward Reverence : Composing Oneself in the 21st Century Anglican Church Francis Pott

    15. Spiritual Music: ‘positive’ negative theology? Jonathan Harvey.

    Selected Bibliography



    Robert Sholl teaches at the Royal Academy of Music and at the University of West London. He has published on a wide range of twentieth-century music. He was editor of Messiaen Studies, and has recently written on Arvo Pärt, Stravinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps, Messiaen and Berio. As an organist Robert has given recitals at St Paul's Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, Notre-Dame de Paris, and at the Madeleine, and he will perform all of Messiaen's organ music in 2016-17. Sander van Maas is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Amsterdam, previously Endowed Full Professor of Dutch Contemporary Composed Music at Utrecht University, and he has held visiting positions at Boston University, Harvard and the University of West London. He is author of The Reinvention of Religious Music: Olivier Messiaen's Breakthrough Toward The Beyond and editor of Thresholds of Listening: Sound, Technics, Space.