Thursday, January 21, 2010
I thought I'd start my entry on this week's music by proceeding backward from the postlude. I'll be playing "Festive Voluntry" by Henry Purcell, who is a 17th century British composer. Purcell is not known as a church composer; he was principally a court musician and composed music for the royal family. Because of that, he's known mostly for marches and voluntaries.
It's precisely the non-sacred source of the music that made me stop to think this week. Why do we (meaning church organists, principally) still play non-sacred classical music like this for a postlude? It can be difficult to justify in some situations. My answer would be threefold: 1. it's good music that has stood the test of time; 2. not a lot of people are paying much attention to a postlude anyway; 3. royal marches symbolize Christ as king. Do you agree with those reasons? Do you have more of your own to add?
There's no such sense of unease about this week's prelude, which is a fugue by Walcha on the tune "Wie schon leuchtet der Morgenstern." The most common text to this tune is "O Morning Star How Fair and Bright." This particular arrangement doesn't literally spell out the whole tune, but you can hear snatches of the well-known tune among each of the three voices in the fugue. Listen carefully for how Walcha has updated and added to the tune, or hum along when you hear familiar snippets.