In 169 B.C., the Romans founded Cordoba. After the fall of Rome, it existed under the rule of the Visigoths and became the capital of Al Andalus, Muslim Spain in 716. The Moors conquered Cordoba in the 8th Century and by the tenth century the city boasted a population of 500,000, compared to about 38,000 in Paris. According to the chronicles of the day, the city had 700 mosques, some 60,000 palaces, and 70 libraries - one reportedly housing 500,000 manuscripts and employing a staff of researchers, illuminators, and book binders. Cordoba also had some 900 public baths as well as Europe's first street lights.
Reigning with wisdom and justice, the rulers of Cordoba treated Christians and Jews with tolerance. They also improved trade and agriculture, patronized the arts, made valuable contributions to science, and established Cordoba as the most sophisticated city in Europe.
When the Moors conquered Cordoba they found a Visigoth cathedral, promptly pulled it down and built a mosque complex who’s walls enclose about four acres and was over 40 years in the making. Over the centuries, the Moors roofed-over and developed more and more within this complex. Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths alike were practiced withing its walls, an unprecedented feat then and literally unheard of today.
When the Christians re-conquered Cordoba in 1236, the new rulers were so awed by its beauty that they left it standing, building their cathedral in the midst of its rows of arches and columns. Thus it is preserved to this day, fondly referred to in Spain as La Gran Mezquita.
La Mezquita contains over 500 marble, granite, and alabaster columns. Mixed into the califal styles, you can see the Byzantine and oriental influences, as well as Hispano- romanic and Visigothic elements throughout the mosque. The grandeur of La Mezquita and its colorful political and religious history has earned its place as a true wonder of the civilized world.
La Mezquita de Cordoba opens with the destruction of the original Christian church in 716 A.D. and proceeds as a musical celebration of La Mezquita and its multi-cultural, religious and artistic accomplishments.
LA MEZQUITA DE CORDOBA
Commissioned by the
Louisiana State University Beta Omega Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia for
Frank B. Wickes, Conductor In Honor of 25 years of Music Education & Excellence at Louisiana State University