MUSICAL SECRETS

When talking about the Stabat Mater Dolorosa, James Dillon says that “as per usual with my work there’s a lot of secret things going on”. We’ve compiled a collection of nine composers, including Dillon, who have introduced the notion of ‘secrets’ into their work:

Johann Sebastian Bach used the B-A-C-H motif, followed by his contemporaries and many other later composers.

Robert Schumann used S-C-H-A (E-flat, C, B-natural, A) to represent himself in Carnival. 

Johannes Brahms used B-A-H-S (B flat, A, B-natural, E-flat) for his surname in the Organ Fugue in A-flat Minor.

John Field, an Irish composer born in the 18th century, wrote melodies on the themes of B-E-E-F and C-A-B-B-A-G-E.

Oliver Messiaen used entire quotations from Thomas Aquinas in his organ work Meditations on the Mystery of the Holy Trinity.

Edward Elgar‘s Enigma Variations were 14 musical sketches about his friends. In naming his theme he posed a question that is unanswered to this day, saying “The ‘Enigma’ I will not explain – its ‘dark saying’ must be left unguessed, and I warn you that the apparent connection between the Variations and the Theme is often of the slightest texture.”

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart included many messages in his music about his involvement as a Freemason.

Dmitri Shostakovich left hidden political messages in his work in opposition to Stalin’s dictatorship.

James Dillon says that “one of the secret things [within the Stabat Mater Dolorosa] is that I am imitating gospel guitar, pop staples.”

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