понеделник, 26 август 2013 г.

Melodic-Harmonic Language in the Organ Music of Petr Eben

  • Sabin Levi

Petr Eben became increasingly known in the Western world after the immense success of his organ cycle “Nědelny Hudba” (Sunday Music). Being known initially among organists, his name became a real “household” name for the lovers of contemporary instrumental and vocal music. Eben’s organ music, strikes the listener with multiple qualities - it is particularly characteristic with its deep spirituality, original rhythm, and its modern approach to pitch organization. While his early works are tonal, Eben’s musical language developed increasingly atonal characteristics, until they became almost totally atonal.
Eben creative thinking placed him in the forefront of the contemporary composers for organ, making him probably the most important organ composer alive.
The composer was born in 1929, in Źamberk, a small East Bohemian town, and spent most of his childhood in the ancient town of Ĉesky Krumlov, in Southern Bohemia. His father was a Czech Jew, his mother - Czech Catholic. He was influenced by the old town’s medieval architecture and atmosphere, which explains his later interest in Medieval and Renaissance literature and sometimes gave his music a certain “archaic” feeling. In Ĉesky Krumlov he also developed his great passion for organ and organ music.
Young Petr had grew up in a musical family and had his first music lessons when six years old. He had to leave school at fourteen, at the onset of the WWII, and being labeled a Jew, was sent to Buchenwald in 1944. After the end of the war, he studied piano and cello and at the age of nineteen he entered the Prague Music Academy, where he studied piano with František Rauch and composition with Pavel Bořkovec. He also developed an exceptional ability to improvise. In 1955 the young musician began his long career as a teacher in the ancient Charles University (founded 1348) in Prague, where he worked for nearly forty years.
The first major success of the young musician was winning a gold medal at the Arts Contest at the World Youth Festival in Moscow in 1957 with his Six Love Songs in Medieval Texts.  In 1959 he also won a first prize at the Czechoslovak National Composer’s Contest with his cantata The Lover’s Magic Spell and song cycle Love and Death. His name, however, became a really “household” name among organists and composers alike, after the release of his first major organ cycle Sunday Music (1959).
Eben studied abroad too, in Montserrat in Spain and in Solesmes in France, taught in the UK (The Royal Northern College of Music, 1977-78) and toured extensively as a presenter of his compositions, organist and improviser. 
What are the characteristic features of Eben’s organ music?
1. It is highly spiritual and often devoted to religious themes. Being a devoted Catholic, Eben met many hardships in his career in the Communist Czechoslovakia, however, he never ceased to have highly religious output. Many of his works are based on the Old Testament (Job, Four Biblical Dances), or New Testament (Laudes, Amen - es werde wahr). He was also interested in some of the great literature works of the Western world - Faust. He also wrote an impressive amount of “absolute music” pieces - Sunday Music, Hommage á Dietrich Buxtehude, Hommage á Henry Purcell, and the cycles Versetti, Momenti d’organo, etc.
2. Exclusive use of Czech musical folklore - including direct quotations as well as his own melodies which only remind us of folklore, in the typical Bartok tradition. Eben follows Bartok’s, as well as Dvořak’s and Janacek’s footsteps also in the tradition of organizing folksong-collecting expeditions. Many of those songs are included in his numerous collections of folk music arranged for choir, voice and piano, piano solo, etc.(for example, Hundred Folk Songs arranged for piano (1959-1960). Entirely based on Czech folk songs are also the Two Organ Choral Fantasies (1972).
3. Extensive use of plainchant. In numerous examples (Laudes (1964), First Organ Concerto (also called Symphonia Gregoriana, 1954), Eben turns to plainchant, citing existing music, as well as putting it through a sophisticated musical metamorphosis. In this tradition, he joins the school of Tournemire, Duruflé, Langlais and other composers for organ of his time.                           
4. Influence from other performance and art media. In Eben’s organ music there are numerous examples of connections between music and visual arts (The Chagal Windows), music and theater  (Faust), dance (Four Biblical Dances), frequent use of narrator (Job), etc.
5. Advanced musical language.  In Eben’s vast organ output there are a number of musical features that show the typical modernistic approach of the 20th century. Eben uses his more advanced musical tools with moderation. In his music we will not find free improvisation, unusual notational shapes, or search for new colors and timbres.
a. Use of rhythm. Eben is very fond of ostinato, but he doesn’t use it as a form-building factor (as Orff does)- example - Moto Ostinato from the Sunday Music cycle – 1959. In addition, he frequently uses non-square meters, (like, for example, the 5/16 meter in the first movement of Mutations) - this could be seen as both a modernistic approach, as well as influence from some folk music meters from the Slavic countries which are also non-square. Frequently there are examples in Eben’s scores where there are clear allusions to percussion instruments, thus influencing the music’s rhythmic signature (#3 of the Four Biblical Dances, the beginning of the piece, where the organ imitates a tambourine). In general, one could say that his organ music is very symphonic by conception, and sometimes there are numerous allusions to individual instruments.
b. Use of polyphony.  Eben’s approach to symmetry reminds the listener (and also the observer of his scores) of the polyphonical means used by the old masters  (example - the first movement of Laudes). One can find symmetrical means which are closely related to inversions and retrogrades of his themes, use of canons, (the first of the two Fantasies, opening measures, also the closing measures of the last piece of the Sunday Music cycle, mm. 268-273) augmentations (Laudes, first piece, mm. 32-56) and diminutions (last movement of the Sunday Music, the theme in mm.117-124 is a diminution of the main theme, mm. 8-10) and fugues (Hommage á Dietrich Buxtehude).
            c. modality and symmetry – they are everywhere, in both young and mature works, although they are always secondary to Eben’s tonal/linear musical approach.
6. Evolution of style - there is a noticeable evolution from conventional to more and more advanced melodic and harmonic language.  In addition to melody and harmony, there is also an interesting development in the structural build of his organ pieces.
a.      Tonal/ melodic evolution.
 In Sunday Music, (1958), although there are no key signature markings, tonality is clearly stated, and even basic functions could be discerned easily. For example, the main melody of the famous Moto Ostinato (the third piece of the cycle) can be identified functionally as having a tonic in m. 5 and dominant in m. 10. The piece also ends in a convincing G minor, with a plagal cadence, subdominant to tonic, in its last measure. Following the classical tonal tradition, the piece ends in the same key as it started.  The same principle is correct for all the movements in the cycle. 
In the cycle Laudes (1966), there is a visible advancement of Eben’s tonal language. There is more attention to melody’s graphical signature, its intervals and their direction. In addition, there is a curious and unique way of treating an existing melody (Gregorian chant), which is the thematic basis of all four pieces.       
In the first piece, the Gregorian-based theme (the second theme) is cited “as is,” i.e. in its finished variant in mm. 74-77, however, it appears in a somehow twisted form earlier, first in mm. 25-28. Here, its interval structure is altered, in comparison to the initial version of the theme. Intervals used in mm. 25-28 are deliberately small, mostly thirds and seconds, with only one exception (a fourth) in m. 28 (Example 1).
Exampel 1

While there are no changes in the theme’s second and third appearances (mm. 29-33 and 35-38) the fourth appearance is inverted (mm. 39-42, Example 2).

Exampel 2

Afterwards, the interval structure of the theme keeps changing, the intervals getting bigger and bigger: fourths, tritones, fifths, sixths, even one example of a tenth in the next three of the themes’ appearances: mm. 46-49, 49-53, 53-56.  In mm. 69-72 appears the “widest” theme, where the intervals are mostly sevenths, but there are also some ninths and tenths (Example 3).
Example 3

Finally, the “clean” variant of theme comes, the one closest to its Gregorian original, in mm. 74-77(Example 4).
Example 4

The same melody/form building principle is used much more widely in the later cycle Faust.  In its entire second part – Mysterium, Eben plans a musical development based on gradual increasing of interval ranges. In the first measures (mm. 1-42) there are no other melodic (horizontal) intervals at all except small and large seconds, and the maximum harmonic (vertical) interval allowed is a small third. Fourths in the vertical are introduced first at m. 42, larger intervals at m. 43, while horizontal intervals’ progression grows slower - melodic small third appears first in m. 48, a tritone - in m. 51, a fourth - in m. 63, (in opposite order) a sixth - in m. 64, and in the same measure there is the first small seventh. Vertical seventh appears earlier, but it is not introduced as clear and as obvious as in m. 69 for the first time, in the right hand’s part, and the first time an octave is reached in vertical and horizontal is just in m. 89! The section starting from m. 89 seems to concentrate gradually on the seventh as a main building block, and starting from m. 97, there is rarely any other interval involved.
b.      increasing chromatization.
In Sunday Music one could interpret most of the chromatic treatment as tonal, functional alterations. Less so in Laudes; in the third piece of Laudes, there is the first appearance of black-white keys’ division of parts, where the right hand plays only on the white keys, while at the same time, the left hand plays only on the black ones, in mm. 72-76. While both parts are tonal and diatonic, when mixed they give quite a chromatic/dissonant impression.
Melodic-harmonic language in this cycle is much more dissonant/chromatic, and there are no longer “same key” finals seen, as in Sunday Music.
Further melodic development can be seen in the first of the Four Biblical Dances. The melody consists of only four tones, and they are used interchangeably, in seemingly random order, and with large leaps in melodic line, in mm.41 and 42. This quite unexpected feature becomes even more unusual by the fact that it is marked “ad libitum”!           
c. Theme “wrapping”
Eben is very fond of introducing a melody “hidden” inside a chord. This can be seen in more than one piece. For example, one of the main melodies of the second piece of Sunday Music appears almost completely invisible, “wrapped” around multiple chords in mm. 96-99, after starting the chords’ section in m. 93. The theme appears clearly and distinctly just 22 measures after, in m. 121-124. The same compositional principle is used also in the Laudes organ cycle, in the first piece, where the second theme, which appears mm. 25-29, also is “wrapped” around the chordal structure in mm. 61-65 (Example 5).

Example 5

d.      registration
In the second piece of Laudes we encounter Quint and Tierce over the fundamental 8’. This is a relatively unusual registration, giving a rather “mysterious” sound (note that the tempo marking is “Fantastico”).  The even more mysterious registration at the beginning of the fourth piece  emphasizes further the very unusual way the Gregorian chant is first introduced - in a “chopped” form, literally note at a time, in a tutti pedal part against a very quiet “sonorific” sound at the manuals (mm. 1-17, Example 6).

Example 6

In the Four Biblical Dances, (number 3, Song of the Beggar with a Hurdy-gurdy) the organ is made deliberately to sound like a barrel organ (another example is the fifth piece).
            When trying to follow Eben’s evolution through the years, one is startled to find out what changes have occurred in his melodic/harmonic thinking. While being always interested in tonality, he turns more and more towards interval-oriented thinking, symmetry and restricted-tone-usage complexes.  He also pays an increasing attention to coloristic features (in both his harmonic language and his original registrations), symphonic thinking while writing for the keyboard, and instrument-imitating techniques. His scores become increasingly chromatic, and in this instance he could be compared to Vierne. There is an increasing preference for interval-oriented thinking, operating with intervals in a very individual and intuitive manner. Sound complexes such as chords and multi-level, multi-line constructions become more and more significant. Eben’s organ works are large-scale, mural-like compositions, always with some kind of an underlying program and context, and are characteristic by their visual, theater-oriented nature. Starting as a traditionally oriented tonal composer, he creates music, which becomes very modern, having all the indications of a major 20th century creative musical thinker.

  •     author Sabin Levi

събота, 15 юни 2013 г.

  • Велин Илиев


Тази „Кратка история на органите в България” бе написана по повод органовия симпозиум, проведен през м. септември 2011г. в Цюрих.Позволихме си да запознаем уважаемите европейски колеги с проблемите на органистите и органите в България като се надяваме, че това ще допринесе за взаимното ни опознаване и разбиране. Същевременно това е и зов за помощ за опазване на вече съществуващите инструменти в ситуация на финансова и духовна криза на обществото у нас. Искрено се надяваме темата да не остане глас в пустиня а да съумеем да запазим постигнатото и да продължим развитието на едва проходилото органово изкуство в България.
 Велин Илиев, органист на Софийската филхармония

понеделник, 16 април 2012 г.

Анализ на диспозицията на органа в катедралата в Шартр

Първоначално органът е построен от Robert Filleul в 1542г., а през XVII и XVIII в. е усъвършенстван,
главно в регистрите, от Roch d'Argilières, Robert Gouet, Jehan de Heman, Pierre des Enclos, Lesclop, Renault - и експертиза на извършените подобрения на органа от François Thierry. В края XX в. е реконструиран от Danion-Gonzalez и възстановен в състояние за свирене от Jean-Marc Cicchero. Вижда се, че инструментът е бил сътворяван от такива именити органостроители като фамилия Д'Аргилиер, Жеан Еман и Тиери.

сряда, 23 февруари 2011 г.

Новия учебен орган в НМА «Панчо Владигеров» и първия български органов фестивал и конференция

  • Сабин Леви
През септември 2010 г. в музикалната академия в София бе инсталиран нов учебен орган от немския органостроител Йенс Щайнхоф, който също така ремонтира основно органа в концертната зала на Академията, (построен от Йемлих през 1979 г.) Това щастливо събитие беше причината през ноември да се проведе фестивал на тема «Акапелния хор и органът – източно-западни проекции». Фестивалът включи музикологични презентации, дискусия, и «двоен концерт», на новия орган в стая 35 на академията, както и на по-стария инструмент в концертната зала.

вторник, 8 февруари 2011 г.

Наполовина сме като германците

Всяка година в Германия се отпускат 100 милиона € за органови проекти
В България се предвиждат годишно 100 милиона лв. за слушане (подслушване) ...

събота, 11 октомври 2008 г.

Rohrflöte - основен регистър за малките органи

При изграждането на един малък орган -преносим или стационарен -трябва да се решат твърде много проблеми с голяма техническа гъвкавост и много малко на брой темброви регистри. Предназначението на малкия орган, особено на преносимия, в повечето случаи е смесено, като той трябва задължително да предоставя възможността с него да се изпълняват облигатни поддържащи гласове или соло-пасажи в голяма инструментална или вокална формация, а в камерен състав - континуо, а също и соло. В противен случай пренасянето на различни места на сравнително тежък инструмент, а и самата цена на органа биха се обезсмислили. От друга страна, цената и теглото на инструмента определят един много малък брой регистри - 2 до 5 /6/ максимум, при това - малки и почти само дървени тръби. Оттам и регистрите са поставени на по-висока основа - 4' , дори 2'. В същото време винаги е нужен един 8' базов регистър, за да звучи в точната октавова група.

четвъртък, 20 декември 2007 г.

Български композитори и музика за орган

Ясен Воденичаров "Илюминации"(1999).

Велислав Заимов
Симфония № 4 за орган, две пиана, струнни и ударни (1981)
Първо изпълнение:
Йордан Гошев,
Явор Димитров,
Стефан Далчев,

Сливенски симфоничен оркестър,
Диригент :Владимир Кираджиев,
Зала "България" – София. 

вторник, 19 юни 2007 г.


  • д-р Сабин Леви

Кой е бил Макс Регер? Гений за едни, истински антимузикант за други, Йохан Баптист Йозеф Максимилиан Регер (1873-1916) се счита понастоящем за най-важният немски композитор за орган след Бах. Въпреки че тази класификация може да прозвучи малко преувеличено за някои хора, гигантското творчество за орган на Регер наистина има невероятно голямо значение, със своите характерни,

понеделник, 11 юни 2007 г.


  • К. Петев

Артикулация на тръбите

При засвирването на органова тръба се образуват няколко процеса, основните от които са : въздух с определено налягане /вятър/ нахлува в крачето на тръбата, преминава през процепа покрай сърцевината и се насочва към горния ръба на лабиума.Там вятърът се разцепва и започва да образува два потока завихряния. Единият поток навлиза във вътрешността на тръбата и от вихрите постепенно но бързо възникват