Yesterday, we moved the small Allen organ donated to us by Westminster Suncoast to a different, hopefully more advantageous spot in the chancel. It’s been a long while since I’ve played it, but will endeavor to do so more often. This coming Sunday, the postlude will be an old (thankfully, easy!) favorite, Buxtehude‘s Jig Fugue. Here’s a music video of it I recorded from waaaaay back in the early days of the pandemic before I started showing me at the keyboard.
Another piece from tomorrow’s service celebrating Hispanic Heritage.
Offered as part of the celebration of Hispanic Heritage month,
A while back I wrote three preludes based on the hymn tune, St. Anne, better known as “Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past.” This is the 2nd movement of that set. The hymn tune is stated twice. During the first half of the prelude, the melody (in G major) is the top note of the chords in triple meter (it’s usually in quadruple meter), in the second half of the piece, the melody’s in the top note of the chords in the right hand. The melody’s easier to hear in the second half.
This is one of the movements of a collection of pieces I wrote for use during Lent on year at Lakewood UCC. The collection is titled Meditations & Reflections. The sheet music for the whole collection or for individual movements is available at SheetMusicPlus. The audio CD for the entire collections is available at BandCamp.
I’m enjoying getting back in the groove of using my little home studio after not having it available I’m enjoying getting back in the groove of using my little home studio after not having it available while we moved and after Lakewood went back to in-person services from only cyber. But absence really does make the heart grow fonder: I’ve come to realize just how much making music means to me! So, even though they’re not required at Lakewood, I’ve started back up making them for the pleasure of making them and hopefully for the pleasure of listeners.
Marco has been my private composition student since he was 14 (maybe it was 13… can’t remember). He starts with dual enrollment at Julliard and Columbia this fall. I highly encourage your attendance either in person or live streamed. He is exceptional.
“Enigma Variations are 14 musical compositions in honour of Elgar’s dearest friends and family. Variation IX, also known as Nimrod, is dedicated to Augustus J. Jaeger, who helped the composer through his darkest periods of self-doubt and depression. Nimrod is a favourite piece for funeral music and is always played at the Cenotaph [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cenotaph] on Remembrance Sunday.” [https://www.carrollandcarrollfunerals.co.uk/funeral-music/]
This week’s Lenten focus is on the German composer and saintly figure, Hildegard of Bingen, so all the music this week is German. A contemporary of the famous J.S. Bach and his cousin, is Johann Gottfried Walther, best known for his many chorale preludes on hymn tunes, of which this is a great example, the tune appearing in the manuals and in the pedals (as you can see performed by Peter Lorre’s “The Hand” video insert).
This week’s Lenten saintly figure is Hildegard of Bingen, a German composer (1098-1179). In her honor, all works this week are German. We don’t hear much about Hermann Schroeder over here but we should. He was a prolific and influential teacher and composer in Germany. He was especially important in bringing German Catholic church music out of heavy (dare I say, bad…not to be confused with the excellent, authentic) Romanticism (upper-case “R”) into interesting yet accessible 20th Century music. I suspect the reason the world of classical music has ignored him is that he’s part of a genre of music composition termed, “Neoclassical.” Neoclassical composers are shunned because the style in mid-20th Century music that was fashionable with those who controlled the purse strings and awards of the contemporary classical music scene were committed to dodecaphonic serialism. (My own theory as to why this was true was that that kind of music was easy to write articles about and since the primary proponents of that music were college professors it was a good fit.) Only problem was performing musicians themselves and audiences (especially) didn’t enjoy it. Fortunately, a number of composers in the 60s who came out of a genre of contemporary music of the extreme avant garde and who were proponents of the compositional ideas of John Cage revolted against the academic establishment and their style evolved into what eventually become known as minimalism. Its most stunning quality was that it was fun to play, tonal, and a pleasure to listen to! (Shocking at that time.) Surprisingly, a similar revolt was happening in eastern Europe: dramatic, very expressive music known as the “Polish School.” Those two revolts have continued to evolve and merge and together are now just known as “music.” It’s my fervent hope that this stylistic freedom will encourage a positive reassessment of neoclassicism. Maybe Schroeder and others will finally have their day.
As part of this week’s Lenten series on saintly figures, this week’s features Simone Weil, most of the musical selections are French in her honor. The composer of this piece, Guillaume de Machaut, lived approximately 1300-1377 and wrote some of the earliest know true polyphony. To modern ears, his music is stark and sometimes uncompromising (often different parts of the counterpoint were in perfect relationship to a longer note melody–the cantus firmus–but not to each other). I wonder how his music sounded to ear of his time when prior to him they only knew single line music or music which paralleled a single line.