I don't often blog on Sunday due to time factors, but today we are going to the Traditional Latin Mass in Columbia, so we don't leave the house til 1:15PM or so.
I picked up "The Story of the Trapp Family Singers" by Maria Augusta Trapp in a 2nd-Hand Catholic bookstore some years ago in Pittsburgh. It was on our shelf growing up, but I never read it. [Note it is somewhat different from the movie it inspired. And in fact out the 312 page book, the movie portion is ended by page 126. And even here Hollywood took liberties.]
"The people living in the country still celebrate Lent as it was understood by the many generations since the beginning of Christianity: by voluntary penance and mortification we should participate in the sufferings of Christ in order to be able to celebrate also the day of Resurrection together with Him. We should die to our old sinful self and rise as a new man. To this end fasting is one of the oldest precepts. In Poland, Italy, some valleys of Austria, and especially the Balkan countries, the fast is most conscientiously observed. One meal a day only, and no animal products: no meat, no fish, no eggs, butter, cheese, or milk.
"Of course, when Easter comes and these goods are back on the table again, the stomachs feast and celebrate together with the souls, sometimes so much so that a doctor is needed. The money which is saved by fasting goes to the poor, and the time which is saved is invested in prayer. Ancient devotions like the Stations of the Cross are much practiced. Pilgrimages are undertaken, and the soul, sobered and helped by the bodily chastisement, finds easier the access to heavenly things."
"That was the signal for everyone to drop whatever he was doing. We sat closer together and started out. First we sang rounds. You can do that for hours on end, and it is a wonderful schooling for the ear. It leads quite naturally to polyphonic music. The rounds teach you to "mind your own business"; sing your part, never to mind what your neighbor sings.
"After the First World War the Catholic Youth Movement sweeping all over Austria and Germany had done a wonderful job for music. These young people were fed up with glee club stuff, with all that coy, sweetish, unnatural material which was sung everywhere. They wanted genuine music again. They went up and down the countryside, collecting real folk songs and folk tunes, delved into archives and libraries and copied unpublished music of the old masters, the great unknown ones. In mimeographed and hand-copied sheets this music went from town to town and brought about a radical change in musical life within a few short years.
"I was lucky enough, in my student years, to belong to one such group of young ones. Boys and girls didn't "go steady" at that time. We met in large groups of thirty or forty and had the most wonderful time doing things together. A large portion of our free time was spent with music. Out of the enthusiasm of those hours blossomed beautiful settings of the melodies we brought home from our hikes through the mountains, for two, three, four, and five parts, a cappella and with the accompaniment of instruments. There were violins and cellos, French horns, and clarinets, and there was the newest and oldest of them all, the revived recorder, the ancient flute. There we sat together by the hour, singing and playing and enjoying ourselves thoroughly."