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Mozart: Freemason, Catholic, and Composer

Mozart is one of the most notable composers the world has ever known. He was also one of the most famous Freemasons. And while it may surprise some, Mozart was also a devout Catholic. Many mistake that Catholics cannot be Freemasons, yet Freemasonry does not discriminate on any man’s religious beliefs. In fact, many Freemasons have been Catholic, including Mozart.

Mozart Freemason Work

It is a not-so-well kept masonic secret that Mozart wrote in aspects of masonic rituals and masonic symbolism into his works. In fact, Mozart Freemason work included one of his most well known opera’s, “The Magic Flute” which focused on the subject of Freemasonry. Specifically the initiation ritual into Freemasonry.

Mozart was admitted as an apprentice to the Viennese Masonic lodge called “Zur Wohltätigkeit” (“Beneficence”) on December 14th 1784.  He was promoted to journeyman Mason on January 7th 1785, and became a master Mason “shortly thereafter”. Mozart also attended the meetings of another lodge, called “Zur wahren Eintracht” (“True Concord”). According to Otto Erich Deutsch, this lodge was “the largest and most aristocratic in Vienna. … Mozart, as the best of the musical ‘Brothers,’ was welcome in all the lodges.”

At least as far as surviving Masonic documents can tell us, Mozart was well regarded by his fellow Masons. Many of his friends were Masons.

Mozart intended the Magic Flute to be a dramatic representation of a person’s initiation into Freemasonry

From and episode of Inside The Music with Brian Lorenson.

Lorenson: The Magic Flute is not only an opera that tells the story of love and trials, there’s also a deeper meaning. Mozart intended the work to be a dramatic representation of a person’s initiation into Freemasonry. To learn more about it I went to the Masonic Center in Santa Monica and spoke with former Grand Master of Mason’s in California, Stephen Dome.

Dome: This is known as Mozart’s Masonic Opera, written in the last year of his life, Mozart did something that he knew his Masonic Brothers would attend, and that non-Mason’s would come out of curiosity for what the Masons were about. Mozart thinly disguised a Masonic initiation ceremony in this opera.

So as part of the Masonic initiation ceremony at the time, the candidate goes through these four elemental tests: earth, water, air, and fire, to prove to the brethren that they have the right balance of these four. And of course we see these in the second act to the Opera Tamina’s going through the initiatic process and the first two are earth and air and then he does fire and water subsequently.

Mozart Freemason Symbolism

Lorenson: So this opera is called The Magic Flute. I imagine there’s quite a bit to unpack there?

Dome: Freemasonry is all about harmony. That’s why geometry is the central symbol of Freemasonry, because geometry measures the harmony in the universe. There’s a principle and theology that’s called hypostasis. We can never know the divine, we can only see the work of the divine. Because geometry measures the harmony of the universe. Geometry therefore becomes the symbol of the creator; of that harmony that’s the whole point of Freemasonry.

That’s really the whole point of this opera. The Magic Flute conveys this sense of harmony. The flute is magical because the four elements are in balance. It’s made from wood from the earth. It was made on a rainy night, when there was water… and also thunder and lightning, which is fire. But then most importantly it takes someone to apply the breath. Somebody who has the wisdom to play the music on the flute that will return harmony.

Ted Eds Overview of Mozart’s “The Magic Flute”

Joshua Borth’s explains how many elements of “The Magic Flute” were inspired by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s somewhat controversial involvement with Freemasonry:

An Overview of “The Magic Flute”

A boy named Prince Tamino runs through a dark wood pursued by a dragon. Just as it rears up to devour him, three mysterious ladies appear and slay the dragon with their fierce battle cry. So begins Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s “Die Zauberflöte”, or “The Magic Flute.”

This fantasy sing spiel, a type of folk opera with music and dialogue, premiered in 1791 in Vienna. Though it may seem like a childish fairytale, this intricate opera is full of subversive symbolism, and it’s now regarded as one of the most influential operas in history.

Tamino’s run in with the dragon is only the start of his journey. The three women summon their leader, the Queen of the Night. She, in turn, sends Tamino on a quest to rescue her daughter, Pamina, from the evil sorcerer, Sarastro. And to help him on his journey, she gives him the titular magic flute.

Tamino eventually finds Pamina at Sarastro’s temple, but behind enemy lines, Tamino and Pamina learn that they’re on the wrong side.The Queen of Night actually wants to plunge the world into darkness. Everything Tamino thought he knew was wrong, filling him with doubt and confusion. So, a new quest begins for Tamino and Pamina. They must pass three trials of wisdom, and only then can the day vanquish the night.

Helped by the flute’s magic power, the two youths overcome these trials and the Queen’s attempts to sabotage them. They’re finally initiated into the temple having restored balance to the kingdom. Many elements in this peculiar fairytale were inspired by Mozart’s involvement in Freemasonry, a network of fraternal organizations throughout Europe.

Masonic Opera, Or Masonic Conspiracy Theory?

Much of their history, symbolism, and ritual came from the Middle Ages. But the Freemasons of Mozart’s time were also influenced by 18th century European ideals -rationalism, humanism, and skepticism towards traditional authorities, like monarchy and the church. The symbols of Freemasonry and these ideals of the Enlightenment are found throughout the opera.

The symbols of Freemasonry and these ideals of the Enlightenment are found throughout the opera.

If this sounds like a conspiracy theory, that’s because it sort of was at the time, but it’s now taken quite seriously and has been the subject of considerable scholarly publication. For example, some Mozart scholars believe the Queen of the Night symbolizes Maria Theresa, the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire who opposed Freemasonry and banned it in Austria. While there continues to be debate as to the specific meaning, interpretation, and location of these masonic references, scholars agree that they’re there and are fully intentional.

Masonic Symbolism In The Magic Flute

One of these symbols is the number three, which represented balance and order to Freemasons. Now the number three is, of course, easy to find in any work of story telling, but it’s particularly prominent in “The Magic Flute”: three trials, three ladies, three spirits, and three doors, much of the music is written in E-flat major, which has three flats in its key signature, and historically, masonic rituals began with three knocks. The opera references them by opening with three majestic chords complete with dramatic pauses.

Those chords, which reoccur throughout the opera, serve another purpose. They capture the dramatic arc of the opera in miniature. The first chord, E-flat major, is in its most natural root position, simple and unadorned. It echoes the child-like Prince Tamino, who, in his naiveté, accepts everything the Queen and her ladies say without question. The second chord is C minor, a sour sonority that mirrors Tamino’s sadness and doubt in the middle of the opera. That’s when his world and notions of good and evil get turned on their heads. And good and evil are just two of the opera’s extreme opposites. It features some of the highest and lowest notes in opera, day and night, simple hummable melodies and complicated forward-looking music.

The opera’s central theme concerns balancing these extremes to achieve perfect harmony. To reflect this, the final chord in the opening restores musical order. It returns to the triumphant E-flat major, the same chord it started with but inverted, meaning Mozart moved the bottom note to the top. Although it retains its original harmony, the chord sounds higher, pointing towards enlightenment.

That’s similar to Tamino, who in passing his trials restores balance to the kingdom while growing stronger, wiser, and more complete.

Watch Mozart’s Magic Flute:

If this has you interested to see Mozart’s Freemason masterpiece first hand, you can watch it here:

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