"Mozart fulfils me" says Pope Francis

20 September 2013, 15:32 | Updated: 18 September 2014, 15:46

Beethoven, Mozart, Bach and Wagner make the opera-loving Pontiff's playlist, recorded by a host of specific classical performers.

Pope Francis is known for his love of opera, but now he's revealed his wide-ranging taste in other classical music in the first major interview of his papacy. Not only is he a fan of important composers including Mozart and Beethoven, but he also enjoys performances by conductor Wilhelm Furtwängler.

"Among musicians I love Mozart, of course," he said. "The 'Et incarnatus est' from his Mass in C minor is matchless; it lifts you to God! I love Mozart performed by Clara Haskil. Mozart fulfills me. But I cannot think about his music; I have to listen to it. I like listening to Beethoven, but in a Promethean way, and the most Promethean interpreter for me is Furtwängler.

"And then Bach’s Passions. The piece by Bach that I love so much is the 'Erbarme Dich,' the tears of Peter in the St. Matthew Passion. Sublime. Then, at a different level, not intimate in the same way, I love Wagner. I like to listen to him, but not all the time. The performance of Wagner’s Ring by Furtwängler at La Scala in Milan in 1950 is for me the best. But also the Parsifal by Knappertsbusch in 1962."

The Pope also used a riddle from Puccini's Turandot to illustrate his vision of Christian hope, and used Wagner's Parsifal as a metaphor to describe the church. His love of classical music was revealed in the context of the 12,000 word interview, in which he urged the church to become more merciful and less focused on preaching about abortion, gay people and contraception.