Vatican City, 5 February 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, in the Paul VI Hall, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Orchestra, lead by Conductor Zubin Mehta, offered a concert to the Pope from the Italian Embassy to the Holy See on the occasion of the 84th anniversary of the Lateran Accords. The repertoire included "The Force of Destiny", by Giuseppe Verdi, and the "Symphony No. 3 in E flat major", also known as the "Eroica", by Ludwig van Beethoven.
At the end of the performance Benedict XVI addressed the audience briefly saying that the choice of "The Force of Destiny" was "a fitting tribute to the great Italian composer on the two hundredth anniversary of his birth" and that his works "know how to capture and treat the situations of life in music, above all the drama of the human soul, in such an immediate, incisive, and essential way that is rare to find in the musical panorama. The destiny he gives his characters is always tragic and the protagonists of the Symphony that we have just heard do not escape it. However, dealing with the theme of destiny, Verdi finds himself taking on the theme of religion directly; he confronts God, faith, the Church. And once again this composer’s spirit re-emerges: his restlessness, his religious quest. "The Force of Destiny" … gives shape to the drama of human existence, marked by a tragic destiny and by nostalgia for God, His mercy, and His love that gives light, meaning, and hope even in the midst of darkness. Faith gives us this perspective that is not illusory but real … This is the strength of the Christian, who is born of Christ's death and resurrection, from the supreme act of a God who has entered into human history not only in words but by becoming incarnate."
He added, "a few words on Beethoven's Third Symphony … which, as you know was dedicated to Napoleon, but the great German composer changed his mind after Bonaparte proclaimed himself emperor, changing the title to 'Composition Celebrating the Memory of a Great Man'. Beethoven's music expresses the idea of a heroic bearer of freedom and equality who has to choose between resignation or battle, between death or life, between surrender or victory. … I am not going to analyse the Symphony's four movements, but just mention the second, the celebrated 'Funeral March' … a stunning meditation on death … that invites us to reflect on what is beyond, on the infinite. In those years, Beethoven, in the Heiligenstadt testament of 1802 wrote, 'O Divine One, thou lookest into my inmost soul, thou knowest it, thou knowest that love of man and desire to do good live therein.' The search for meaning that opens the door to a solid hope for the future forms part of humanity's path."