"...And What is Lacking of the Sufferings of Christ, I Fill up in my Flesh for his Body, Which is the Church..." (Col.1:24)

Sunday, October 15, 2017


     You are about to touch Heaven. . .

     In the YouTube link below, you are about to hear the Latvian opera singer, Inessa Galante, speaking to Mary, the Mother of God, when you hear the mere two words, Ave Maria. Those two words are the only lyrics to the song she is singing. . .

     I have been an opera lover most of my life and I’ve had my favorites, but I dare say I have never heard anything more beautiful than Inessa Galante’s Ave Maria.

     Sometimes, when we're tired, we catch ourselves 'reciting' the Rosary in the same rhythmic pattern on each bead. We lull ourselves, actually. It's good, then, to kindle our truest emotion, the one we feel deep inside, so that it lifts and moves our warmth, our tenderness, our sentiments, our needs, our love, when we speak Mary's prayer. Listening to Inessa Galante does that for us, even just those two words. I often put the YouTube link on as very low background music and enter my Rosary alive with the emotion and feeling of Inessa’s Ave Maria. I am immediately drawn into my Hail Marys, and I want the Mother of God to know how much I mean the words.

     It's simple: go to the YouTube link below, click on the picture of Inessa Galante's face, and when you hear her singing, pray. When the recording comes to an end, simply click again, replay and continue praying. Repeat the process until you finish your Rosary.

     Ave Maria, a mere two words, I say, but oh., how Inessa offers to Mary this aspiration! It begins with her darker middle tones, then we feel she passionately wants to get nearer to the Mother of God, and her yearning, even a little plea about the pain of life, her love and joy,  soar like a lustrous silk thread arcing far and high, stretching out thinly to reach Heaven itself (this vocal agility and feat is called pianissimo in musical terms, and difficult to do).

     Where did this beautiful music come from? The attribution is always Vavilov/Caccini. (Vladimir Vavilov, Russian composer, 1925-1973, and Giulio Caccini, Italian Baroque composer, 1551-1618), but it is well known and accepted that Vavilov is definitely the composer, not Caccini.  And yet, surprisingly, I still see Caccini's name alone in some places as the composer. As the story goes, Vavilov published the music himself in 1970, ascribing it to "Anonymous" -- a habit of his. The little that is available in English on his life points out that he was also in the habit of using the names of forgotten Baroque composers instead of his own. Vavilov is credited with contributing to the revival of Baroque music in the Soviet Union. 

     Here is an explanation from his daughter (highlighted), reprinted verbatim from the websitehttp://www.origenmusic.com/ave-maria-vavilov.html 

Ave Maria by Vladimir Vavilov
( misattributed to Giulio Caccini).

Ave Maria is usually attributed to Giulio Caccini. It is the biggest musical hoax. Actually it was composed and first performed by Russian guitarist, lutenist and composer Vladimir Vavilov (1925-1973).  In 1970 Vavilov recorded and publish this song on the album “Lute Music of the XVI-XVII centuries” on the Russian Melodia label with  the  song attribution to “Anonymous”.
Almost all songs on this album were composed by Vladimir Vavilov and ascribed to composers of Baroque era. The reason for such a hoax was banal. At that time it was impossible to imagine that the major Russian label will release the music of unknown soviet composer.   As Vavilove’s  daughter Tamara mentioned "My father was convinced that the self-taught works of unknown composer with a trivial name "Vavilov" will  never be published. But he really wanted his music reached the audience and he went so far as to give all the glory to the medieval composers and "unknown authors."
For the first time the "authorship"of Caccini appeared on the record of Irina Bogacheva in 1975, released by the same Melody label. But the world wide success the song got after Irina Arkchipova performed and released the song on the album “Ave Maria” in 1987. Then this song was performed by numerous artists including Inessa Galante, Charlotte Church, Andrea Bocelli, Hayley Westenra and many more.

     There doesn't seem to be a smidgen of any Vavilov ego in his solution for getting his  music to the audience out there -- giving up "the glory" as long as it was heard.  

     A few years later, Vavilov died of pancreatic cancer, impoverished. Although it's not clear exactly how, his music was distributed and the Ave Maria was misattributed to Caccini. A YouTube entry (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOVAJI7SLXEd ) states: "It is believed that the work received its ascription to Giulio Caccini after Vavilov's death, by an organist Mark Shakhin (one of its performers on the mentioned "Melodiya" longplay), who gave the "newly discovered scores" to other musicians; then in an arrangement made by the organist Oleg Yanchenko for the recording by Irina Arkhipova in 1987, then the piece came to be famous worldwide."    

     In time the song -- or aria -- reached the heights of success. Many artists recorded it, and although all are worthy of our attention and listening, Inessa Galante's recording stands at the top. YouTube has many entries of it, some with comments, and has a number of her LIVE concert performances of Ave Maria, as well.  

     Effortlessly, one can't help but feel this great gift of love to The Blessed Virgin Mary. It enters us. Maybe that was the way Vavilov meant it to be and that's why he wanted it out into the audience. Love her, make her known -- that's what Padre Pio always said. My question is: what was Vavilov's spiritual relationship with her, if any, in a Communist Soviet Union? Was there a deep hungering for our faith? Remember the Polish chant of thousands when John Paul II visited Poland: We want God!

     Could a piece of music with only two words, Hail Mary, have contributed in some way to the same feelings in the Soviet Union? Vavilov's daughter said he really wanted his music to reach the audience, even though he attributed it to Anonymous. In Soviet Russia with its declared Atheism, promoting any religion was forbidden. Perhaps this was the only way to kindle the faith.  Or is it my wishful thinking?

     Or. . . could Vavilov have heard this religious aria in some small excerpt or prayer when passing a church, and it persisted in his head? Was he unwittingly evangelizing when he put it all down in musical notes? Did God, who so loved His Mother, grace Vavilov's heart and soul when Vavilov was composing Ave Maria? I feel God graces mine each time I listen and pray with it. God works in mysterious ways. Perhaps Vavilov's daughter's words, "my father was convinced that the self-taught works of unknown composer" give us a clue that it could have come from the heart.

     Most everything available online about Vavilov is in Russian--and I don't speak the language -- so it's frustrating not to be able to find answers. One has to go out on a limb even to make suggestions or ask questions that imply a strange possibility. If anyone knows of the whereabouts of a more interior and personal life of Vavilov,  please let me know.

     Whatever the answer to how Vavilov's Ave Maria was inspired, we owe him our deepest gratitude.
Vladimir Vavilov, 5 May 1925 – 3 November 1973

     Here is the YouTube link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhHm0lzomd


     Here is a Wikipedia bio: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimir_Vavilov_(composer)


1 comment:

  1. To Jeanette, More often than not, life can be extremely confusing and disappointing, with it's constant ups and downs. However alas, when reviewing your scripts, which possess a mystical, etherial beauty, one's soul feels renewed. Upon reflection, you are moved nearer to God, with a stronger appreciation for the meaning of life! Bravo To You, Fondly Pamela