Friday Night OrganRedux August 2018 part II  


The Evil Genius
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 1507
22/02/2019 8:04 pm  

There was an uncontrollable surge of interest in piano music. So we'll kick things off with some. This isn't going to be easy since my time stricture is pre-1770. Bartolomo Cristofori (1655-1731 is believed to have invented the piano in Padua Italy sometime around 1700. Three examples of his work from 1720 survive to this day. Here is one of them:

Cristofori named the instrument un cimbalo di cipresso di piano e forte abbreviated over time as pianoforte, fortepiano, and later, simply, piano. The principle difference between a Harpsichord and a piano is the strings of a Harpsichord are plucked with a plectrum and the strings of a piano are struck with a small padded hammer. The Harpsichord had been around since about 1400 so why it took 300 years for someone to figure out "strike" instead of pluck is beyond me. Since the piano was relatively new by 1770 there wasn't an extensive body of music composed for it.

Cristofori's new instrument remained relatively unknown until an Italian writer, Scipione Maffei wrote an article in 1711 endorsing the new medium. The article was translated into German and Gottfried Silbermann tried his hand at building one. Silbermann was known for building organs BUT a wise businessman knows when to get in on the ground floor of a new trend...and he did. Silbermann showed one of his instruments to J.S. Bach in the 1730s, but Bach did not like the instrument, claiming that the higher notes were too soft to allow a full dynamic range. Although this earned him some animosity from Silbermann, the criticism was apparently heeded. Bach did approve of a later instrument he saw in 1747, and even served as an agent in selling Silbermann's pianos. "Instrument: piano et forte genandt"–a reference to the instrument's ability to play soft and loud–was an expression that Bach used to help sell the instrument when he was acting as Silbermann's agent in 1749.

The first work I've selected is Bach's Goldberg variations, BWV 988. Published in 1741 it was written for Harpsichord and consists of an Aria with 30 variations of the theme. Johann Gottlieb Goldberg is thought to have been a student of Bach and was perhaps responsible for the first public performance...hence the attachment of the name. This performance is by Glenn Gould (1932-1982) Gould was a pianist of some renown but is best known for his rendition of the Goldberg variations. This recording dates from 1955.

Last week some of the guys expressed a desire for some pounding organ and brass! Well organ and brass go together like peanut butter and chocolate. Anyway I'm not going to explain in detail since in future we will explore the topic more fully. But here is Henry Purcell's Doxology (old 100th) for Brass and Organ.

And some more Purcell --- the Trumpet Tune.


OPPPPPSSSS almost forgot Jerimiah Clarke's Trumpet Voluntary:

Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails



The last of the late medieval/early renaissance composers I will feature is Guillaume Du Fey, 1397-1474. Like Dunstable, Power and Paumann Du Fey's music is transitional---musical idioms common to the Renaissance begin to appear---polyphony, counterpoint etc. Du Fey was Flemish born near Brussels and served as a deacon in Cambrai Cathedral. He travel extensively to Italy, the birth place of the Renessance and his music reflects that influence. One of his most famous works Lamentatio sanctae matris eccleesaie Constantinopolitanae is a motet composed upon the theme of the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Du Fey composed in most of the common forms of the day, including masses, motets, Magnificats, hymns and simple chant settings within the area of sacred music, and rondeaux, ballades and chanson types within the realm of secular music. None of his surviving music is specifically instrumental, although instruments were certainly used for some of his secular music, especially for the lower parts; all of his sacred music is vocal. Even so I managed to find his Flos Florum in an excellent performance transcribed by James Roman:

Next up to bat is Josquin des Prez 1450-1521. a French composer often referred to simply as Josquin. He was the most famous European composer between Du Fey and Giovanni da Palestrina and is considered the central figure of the Franco-Flemish school of music. Josquin is widely considered by music scholars to be the first master of the high Renaissance style of polyphonic vocal music that was emerging during his lifetime. During the 16th century, Josquin gradually acquired the reputation as the greatest composer of the age, his mastery of technique and expression universally imitated and he was so admired that many anonymous compositions were attributed to him by copyists, probably to increase their sales. More than 370 works are attributed to him. Yet in spite of Josquin's colossal reputation, which endured until the beginning of the Baroque era virtually nothing is known about his personality. The only surviving work which may be in his own hand is a graffito on the wall of the Sistine Chapel and only one contemporary mention of his character is known, in a letter to Duke Ercole I of Ferrara. The lives of dozens of less revered Renaissance composers are better documented than that of Josquin. Although contemprary artists of the time often portrayed Josquin seated at a positiv organ no works for this instrument survive.

In any case here is one of his sacred vocal works: Miserere mei Deus :

Time and space preclude me getting to Thomas Tallis or Orlande de Lassus---I promise next week--


We will close out today with the great Giovanni da Palestrina, mentioned above. (1525-1594) Palestrina was born in the town of Palestrina near Rome, then part of the Papal States.. Documents suggest that he first visited Rome in 1537, when he is listed as a chorister at the basillica of St. Maria Maggiore. He spent most of his career in the city. Palestrina came of age as a musician under the influence of the northern European style of polyphony, which owed its dominance in Italy primarily to two influential Franco=Flemish composers, GUESS WHO? Thats right Guillaume Du Fey and Josquin who had spent significant portions of their careers there. From 1544 to 1551, Palestrina was the organist of the Cathedral of St. Agapito, the principal church of his native city. In 1551 Pope Julius III appointed Palestrina maestro di cappella or musical director of the Cappella Giulia the choir of the chapter of canons at St. Peter's Basilica. Palestrina dedicated to Julius III his first published compositions (1554), a book of Masses. It was the first book of Masses by a native composer, since in the Italian states of Palestrina's day, most composers of sacred music were from France, Portugal, or Spain. Palestrina held positions similar to his Julian Chapel appointment at other chapels and churches in Rome, notably St. John Lateran (1555–1560), and St Mary Major (1561–1566).


In 1571 he returned to the Julian Chapel and remained at St Peter's for the rest of his life. The decade of the 1570s was difficult for him personally: he lost his brother, two of his sons, and his wife in three separate outbreaks of the plague (1572, 1575, and 1580, respectively). He seems to have considered becoming a priest at this time, but instead he remarried, this time to a wealthy widow. GO MGTOW! This finally gave him financial independence (he was not well paid as choirmaster) and he was able to compose prolifically until his death. He died in Rome of pleurisy in 1594. As was usual, Palestrina was buried on the same day he died, in a plain coffin with a lead plate on which was inscribed Libera me Domine. Palestrina's funeral was held at St. Peter's, and he was buried beneath the floor of the basilica. His tomb was later covered by new construction and attempts to locate the site have been unsuccessful.


Palestrina left hundreds of compositions, including 105 Masses, 68 offertoties at least 140 madrigals and more than 300 motets. In addition, there are at least 72 hymns 35 magnificats 11 litanies and four or five sets of lamentations. The Gloria melody from a Palestrina's Magnificat Tertii Toni (1591) is widely used today in the resurrection hymn tune, Victory (The Strife Is O'er). Oddly for a guy who was a one time organist we have NO organ works which have come down to us. So we'll go ahead and take a listen to the Gloria mentioned above: ENJOY!

Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2924
22/02/2019 8:12 pm  




Umbra Ascensor
Joined: 10 months ago
Posts: 121
06/03/2019 2:17 am  

Great post. It is definetly interesting. If it isn't for the fact that my brain is practically dead right now, I would have done more than just skimmed. I will try to come back to it and read it in more detail when time permits, and I am not exhausted after a 21 hourish day.

Uly The Cunning
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 2219
09/03/2019 11:07 am  

I have come back to this Friday Night Organ more than a dozen times. The importance of what happened here is beyond comparison, as it transcends nations and cultures. The invention of the piano has changed music and impacted numerous cultures. This has been an invention that continues to shape and alter even our modern pop culture. It is creations such as these that gives me hopes that humanity will overcome these dark times and once again advance.

Julian Chapel went through very dark times of his own. Losing everything, I am not sure if he can be considered the Job of the 1500's, but it is certainly a recovery that provided him a better final years for the man. 

There is a lot to this week's of Friday Night Organ. This is a very informative week. Excellent post, Evil Genius. 

"Remember, you're fighting for this woman's honor, which is probably more than she ever did."
Groucho Marx: Duck Soup (1933)

Matcha Savage
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 1576
09/03/2019 3:36 pm  

My delight and pleasure. Thank you T.E.G.!

The original name of the instrument:

`cimbalo di cipresso di piano e forte´

just didn´t fit on the tiny billboards they had to boost sales, back then.

And ink always is expensive.

That must be the whole reasoning behind skipping roughly 75% of it, altogether.


There is a scene in a German comic-parody about the Furor, where he time traveled back to Paris in the late 20´s and naturally comes to lecture Ernest Hemingway, there, while being heavily intoxicated by absinth, after having ordered a herb-lemonade (German: `Kräuterlimonade´) from the bartender.

`Keep it simple, so you get more fäns.´ he says with great emphasis and Ernest is like: `Hm...´ and stroking his beard, while making great future plans.


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The Evil Genius
Joined: 1 year ago
Posts: 1507
09/03/2019 5:20 pm  

HA HA You guys are too kind! And Matcha really has a point how do you sell something with a NAME like that. Obviously piano is not my personal favorite BUT I do have a soft spot for Beethoven and Chopin. DON'T TELL ANYONE its a dirty little secret! 🙄 

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