Mozart’s ‘Laudate Dominum’

Monday 9th March 2020

In the Peter Shaffer play (and then film) Amadeus, Mozart’s rival, the composer Salieri, talks enviously about Mozart’s music being ‘the voice of God’. Like many others who have enjoyed Mozart’s music down the years, I can see exactly what he meant. Albert Einstein (unsurprisingly!) described the feeling better than I can: ‘Mozart is the greatest composer of all. Beethoven created his music, but the music of Mozart is of such purity and beauty that one feels he merely found it – that it has always existed as part of the inner beauty of the universe waiting to be revealed.’ Certainly there is something about the simplicity, the joy and the beauty of so much that Mozart wrote that speaks to me of the transcendent and lifts me into the presence of God.

Mozart is my favourite composer and I could have chosen so many pieces to post with this blog – music from the operas (many of which have strong Christian themes of fall, redemption and forgiveness); the astonishing Requiem; some of the symphonies and the piano music – but in the end I decided on the Laudate Dominum. This setting of the shortest of the psalms, Psalm 117, has an ethereal quality about it – first in the violins and then in a soaring soprano solo before the melody is gently echoed by the choir. It is simple and yet perfect – one can’t imagine a note being changed. It seems to me to express something of the beauty of God and of his love in creation, something that we reach towards but glimpse perhaps only occasionally. As listeners we cannot help being drawn in to ‘praise God, all you nations’ as we hear this wonderful piece.

Sophia Acland


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