Professor discusses shift in liturgical music

Donovan Roudabush
Staff Writer

A professor of music focused on the changes in music leading up to, during and following the Second Vatican Council in the eyes of several French liturgical composers at a talk Monday in the Gentile Gallery.

Vincent Rone, who holds a doctorate in musicology, gave a talk to several students called “Fighting Modernism with Modernism in Music.”

He primarily discussed the works of composers Maurice Duruflé and Jean Langlais.

Rone said both composers flourished from the 1940’s to the 1960’s, at a time when the “nouvelle théologie,” a school of thought in Catholic theology that arose in the mid-20th century, was emerging.

This movement would greatly influence the Second Vatican Council, he said.

They also faced the early signs of liturgical modernism, including the calls in 1909 for “democratic” liturgies in the vernacular.

Rone went through a history of music in general, particularly the “circle of fifths” theory that takes a chord and moves it by root, creating a “resolution” that is satisfying to the ears. This theory of tonality would start to be dismissed in the late 19th century, where music became more thematic and less predictable, he said.

Rone said the new liturgical directives from the 1960’s left the composers feeling out of business, as the organ had less prominence, and music was less flowing and chant-like.

Rone said Langlais was led to question his faith and had deep disillusionment with the Church.

Freshman Sophia Merrick said, “I liked learning about the history of music in France in the 1900s and tonality and the different ways music has developed and how it’s changed in the church.”

The event was hosted by the Veritas Society and is to be followed by an instrumental performance Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m. in the Gallery.