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There was a time when the Church shaped Western high art, particularly art music, as distinct from folk or pop music. That era has been over for centuries, yet the impetus for composers to engage with spirituality has endured. There has been no shortage of scholars in recent decades endeavoring to describe the affinity between secular art music and religion, most typically Western Christianity. But few treat this interdisciplinary topic without shortchanging one of the respective disciplines of music, theology, and philosophy, each of which has become its own hyper-specialized pursuit. Re-engaging these disciplines on a serious level involves serious scholars doing serious work. Contemporary Music and Spirituality is a unique example of such interdisciplinary collaboration.

The volume is a collection of essays by fifteen leading scholars, in which each analyzes modern composers and their music in light of their philosophical, theological, liberal arts, and psychological contexts. Their essays discuss the music of György Ligeti, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Olivier Messiaen, Arvo Pärt, and so on with the writings of Augustine, Aquinas, Carl Jung, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Roger Scruton, Charles Taylor, and many others.

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