Archive for the ‘Richard Wagner’ Tag

Feast of Franz Liszt (July 31)   1 comment

Above:  Franz Liszt

Image in the Public Domain

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FRANZ LISZT FERENC (OCTOBER 22, 1811-JULY 31, 1886)

Hungarian Composer and Pianist, and Roman Catholic Priest

The life of Franz Liszt can serve as an example of making a major change for the better.

Franz Liszt, born on October 22, 1811, at Raiding, near Sophron, Hungary, was a great composer and pianist.  His father was Adam Liszt, a steward of the Esterházy family.  Our saint’s mother was Anna Lager.  Franz was a child prodigy and a fine pianist.  Adam was an amateur pianist.  The parents nurtured their son’s talent.  They secured an annual subsidy from wealthy patrons and, in 1820, moved to Vienna, where our saint studied under Karl Czerny and Antonio Salieri.  In 1823 our saint played a concert in Paris.  Later that year the family relocated to the City of Lights, where Franz continued his studies.  From 1823 to 1827 father and son traveled in France and England.  Then Adam died in 1827.

Liszt, a composer since 1825, lived in Paris with his mother.  Since he had to earn money, he taught piano students.

As the years passed Liszt built up his reputation as a concert pianist, a composer, and a conductor.  He traveled across Europe and took his messy private life with him.  Mistress #1 (for about a decade), starting in 1834, was Countess Marie d’Agoult, with whom he had five children, including Cosima, who married Richard Wagner.  Mistress #2 (from 1848 to 1865) was Princess Carolyne von Sayn Wittgenstein, whom he had met on tour in Russia.  They settled at Weimar, where Liszt became the center of the Neo-German School of composition as well as a conductor of operas.  The couple could not marry, for Carolyne was already married, and the Roman Catholic Church refused to grant her a divorce.

Liszt had discerned a call to the priesthood since his childhood.  In 1865 he accepted it, and became a priest.  For the rest of his life Liszt taught, composed, and conducted.  From 1869 he taught piano in Weimar.  In 1875 he became the director of the new music academy in Budapest.  Along the way he promoted the works of other composers, including Hector Berlioz, Franz Schubert, and Ludwig von Beethoven.

Liszt was a major composer.  He invented the symphonic poem.  His catalog included both sacred and secular works.  His sacred works included oratorios (Die Legende von der Heiligen Elizabeth and Christus) and Masses (Missa Solemnis, Requiem, Missa Choralis, and the Hungarian Coronation Mass).  In the secular realm, his Hungarian Rhapsody #2 stands the test of time especially well.

Liszt, aged 74 years, died at Bayreuth on July 31, 1886.  He was there to attend a festival of operas by his son-in-law, Richard Wagner.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 12, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF EDWIN PAXTON HOOD, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, PHILANTHROPIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF CHRISTIAN DAVID JAESCHKE, GERMAN MORAVIAN ORGANIST AND COMPOSER; AND HIS GRANDSON, HENRI MARC VOLDEMAR VOULLAIRE, MORAVIAN COMPOSER AND MINISTER

THE FEAST OF ENMEGAHBOWN, EPISCOPAL PRIEST AND MISSIONARY TO THE OJIBWA NATION

THE FEAST OF JOSEPH DACRE CARLYLE, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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Eternal God, light of the world, and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Franz Liszt and all those

who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the

Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 728

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Feast of Henry Fothergill Chorley (December 15)   1 comment

London Bridge

Above:  Tower of London, 1890

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-DIG-ppmsc-08569

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HENRY FOTHERGILL CHORLEY (DECEMBER 15, 1808-FEBRUARY 16, 1872)

English Novelist, Playwright, and Literary and Music Critic

Henry Fothergill Chorley found his vocation and succeeded in it.

Chorley came from a Quaker family of Lancashire, England.  His father was a lock manufacturer who died four years after going  bankrupt.  An uncle, one Dr. Retter of Liverpool, gave young Chorley an office job.  That paid pills, but our saint had musical and literary interests, so some cousins encouraged him to become a writer.

He did so.  In 1830 Chorley started writing for The Athenaeum, a literary magazine which existed from 1828 to 1921.  Three years later he joined the editorial staff.  Eventually our saint wrote music criticism and literary reviews.  He left The Athenaeum in 1868 and became a music critic for The Times of London.  Chorley favored the music of Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and Louis Spohr (1784-1859) yet not that of Frederic Chopin (1810-1849), Robert Schumann (1810-1856), and Richard Wagner (1813-1883).  On the literary side, our saint, a friend of Charles Dickens (1812-1870), wrote novels, dramas, opera librettos, and other works.  His books included the following:

  1. Music and Manners in France and Germany (1841);
  2. Pomfret (1845);
  3. Modern German Music (1854);
  4. Roccabella (1859);
  5. The Prodigy (1866); and
  6. The National Music of the World (published posthumously, 1880).

Chorley also wrote hymns.  Among them was “God the All-Terrible!” (1842), which has become part of “God the Omnipotent,” a composite text.

Chorley died at London on February 16, 1872.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 22, 2015 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES

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O God, you have endowed us with memory, reason, and skill.

We thank you for the faithful legacy of [Henry Fothergill Chorley and all others]

who have dedicated their lives to you and to the intellectual pursuits.

May we, like them, respect your gift of intelligence fully and to your glory.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Psalm 103

Philippians 4:8-9

Mark 12:28-34

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 6, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT CHRODEGANG OF METZ, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP

THE FEAST OF EDMUND KING, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF LINCOLN

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Feast of Peter Wolle, Theodore Wolle, and John Frederick Wolle (November 14)   6 comments

Wolle Family Connections

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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PETER WOLLE (JANUARY 5, 1792-NOVEMBER 14, 1871)

U.S. Moravian Bishop, Organist, and Composer

father of

THEODORE FRANCIS WOLLE (1832-MARCH 30, 1885)

U.S. Moravian Organist and Composer

kinsman of 

JOHN FREDERICK “J. FRED” WOLLE (APRIL 4, 1863-JANUARY 12, 1933)

U.S. Moravian Organist, Composer, and Choir Director

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Families should nurture a healthy devotion to God, I am convinced.  Certainly the Wolle family of Bethlehem-Nazareth, Pennsylvania, did so.

The story, for the purpose of this post, began with John Frederick Wolle (1745-1813), a Moravian missionary to St. Thomas, in the Caribbean Sea.  He and his wife had two sons important to this post–John Frederick Wolle (1785-1860) and Peter Wolle (1792-1871).  Peter arrived in Pennsylvania at the tender age of three years.  In 1807 he became one of the first three students at Moravian Theological Seminary, all of whom went to on to become bishops in the Unitas Fratrum.  Peter taught in Moravian schools in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, states in which he also served congregations as a pastor.  From 1810 to 1814 he taught at the Collegium Musicum (from 1820 the Philharmonic Society of Bethlehem).

Peter served God and the Moravian Church with several talents.  In 1836 he published the first Moravian tune book in the United States, Hymn Tunes, Used in the Church of the United Brethren.  He altered Moravian hymn tunes to make them more similar to commonly sung hymn tunes in America.  This was necessary partially due to cultural pressures and ecclesiastical competition.  In the realm of music he also played the organ and composed anthems–nothing surprising, given the musical priorities of the Unitas Fratrum.  Peter, who became a bishop while pastor at Lititz, Pennsylvania, served as the interim minister at Dover, Ohio, from 1853 to 1855.  Then he served on the Provincial Board of the American Province until he retired in 1861.  He died at Bethlehem in 1871.

Two of Peter’s sons went into music also.  James Wolle built pianos–very well, apparently.  Theodore Francis Wolle (1832-1885) became an organist, like his father.  Peter taught young Theodore to play the instrument.  By the age of ten years the boy could play all tunes from his father’s Tune Book from memory.  Theodore started teaching music at Greensboro College, Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1853, played in a Confederate Army band during the Civil War, and returned to Bethlehem by 1865.

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Above:  Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, February 1969

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = HABS PA,48-BETH,2–4

Theodore worked as an organist and composer in Bethlehem.  At first he played the organ at the Moravian chapel there.  Then, in 1871, he became the organist and choirmaster at Central Moravian Church.  He held the post for fourteen years.  The congregation replaced its old organ, which dated to 1806, in 1873.  Theodore helped to design the new instrument, which had three manuals and forty stops–more than the old organ did.  He stood in the legacy of Johann Klemm, David Tannenberg, Sr., and other Moravian Church organ builders.

Theodore also broke with tradition in two ways.  He changed the role of the organist in Moravian worship.  That role had been to support the congregation in worship.  A Moravian Church organist was not traditionally a performer, but Theodore became the first Moravian Church organist to give recitals.  He also changed the design and sound of Moravian Church organs.  They were traditionally modest instruments which did not attract attention to themselves in terms of sound or appearance.  The 1873 organ at Central Moravian Church, Bethlehem, however, sounded grand and looked decorative.

Theodore also composed at least one tune, “Asleep in Jesus” (1877), which I found in an old Moravian hymnal.

His successor at Central Moravian Church was a third John Frederick Wolle (1863-1933), grandnephew of Peter Wolle (1792-1871), grandson of John Frederick Wolle (1785-1860), great-grandson of John Frederick Wolle (1745-1813), and a relative of Theodore.  (Distinguishing among people is a simpler task when they have different names.)  John Frederick number three, or J. Fred, as he preferred that people call him, became one of the most influential and acclaimed Moravian Church musicians and music teachers in the United States.  He studied the organ with Theodore at Bethlehem and David Wood at Philadelphia.  In 1884-1885 he lived in Munich, Germany, where he was one of four students the great organist Josef Rheinberger accepted that year.  The master organist preferred a dry, straight-forward performance style of the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, but J. Fred opted for an expressive interpretation.  The student also became familiar with the music of Richard Wagner while in Munich and began to make organ transcriptions of selections from Wagnerian operas.

J. Fred returned to Bethlehem in 1885 and stayed busy doing what he loved.  He succeeded Theodore as the organist and choirmaster at Central Moravian Church that year.  Two years later he added to those duties the positions of organist at Lehigh University and Packer Memorial Church (Episcopal), on the campus.  For eighteen years he played the organ at Lehigh.  He also composed works for the organ and for choirs and won national acclaim for his organ recital at the World’s Columbia Exposition in Chicago in 1893. As if that were not enough, J. Fred co-founded the American Guild of Organists in 1896 and founded the Bach Choir of Bethlehem two years later.  He served as the first Director of that ensemble, which gave the first complete performances of the Mass in B Minor and the Christmas Oratorio in the United States, in 1900 and 1901, respectively.  His Bach Festivals were major cultural events.  The Bach Choir was not originally a professional organization for, J. Fred said, Bach was for everybody.

J. Fred left for Berkeley, California, in 1905, to lead the Department of Music at the University of California.  During his six years he organized a Bach Choir in that city.  He returned to Bethlehem in 1911 and resumed his role with the original Bach Choir.  In 1915 he was organist at Salem Lutheran Church, Bethlehem.

J. Fred died in 1933.

These three saints glorified God with their talents, which they nurtured and honed.  Fortunately, they had support along the way.  May we, likewise, strive to be all we can be for the glory of God and the benefit of others, have the support we need, and, as able, enable others to achieve their potential.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 4, 2014 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT FRANCIS OF ASSISI, FOUNDER OF THE FRANCISCANS

THE FEAST OF ALL CHRISTIAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS

THE FEAST OF JOHN ERNEST BODE, ANGLICAN PRIEST, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Almighty God, beautiful in majesty, majestic in holiness:

You have shown us the splendor of creation in the work of your servants

Peter Wolle, Theodore Wolle, and J. Fred Wolle.

Teach us to drive from the world all chaos and disorder,

that our eyes may behold your glory,

and that at last everyone may know the inexhaustible

richness of your new creation in Jesus Christ our Lord,

who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Isaiah 28:5-6 or Hosea 14:5-8 or 2 Chronicles 20:20-21

Psalm 96

Philippians 4:8-9 or Ephesians 5:18b-20

Matthew 13:44-52

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 61

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Feast of Joseph Barnby (January 28)   2 comments

Above:  Minster Choir East, York, England

Image Source = Library of Congress

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SIR JOSEPH BARNBY (AUGUST 12, 1838-JANUARY 28, 1896)

Anglican Church Musician and Composer

Each of us, in order to achieve his or her potential, needs the desire to accomplish it, the proper work ethic, and the opportunities to apply the desire and the work ethic.  Sir Joseph Barnby was quite fortunate, for he had all three.

Barnby, born at York, England, joined the York Minster choir at age seven.  He began to teach three years later and to work as an organist at age twelve.  He became the master of his school at age fifteen.  The alumnus of the Royal Academy of Music had a distinguished career in music, mostly in church settings.  His church choirs in London parishes, the best such ensembles in that city. performed the Passions of Johann Sebastian Bach annually.  Barnby conducted the first performances of Richard Wagner‘s Parsifal and Antonin Dvorak‘s Stabat Mater in England.  And Barnby served as musical advisor to Novello, Ewer and Company from 1861 to 1876.  The firm founded a choir for him to lead.  He worked as Director of  Music at Eton College from 1875 to 1892, conducted the Royal Choral Society, and became (in 1892) the Principal of the Guildhall School of Music.  His knighthood (in 1892) was merited yet rare for choral directors.

Barnby was a prolific composer.  Robert Guy McCutchan wrote of the saint in the 1937 companion volume to the U.S. Methodist Hymnal of 1935.  Barnby, McCutchan  wrote, was

…one of the most prolific, if not the greatest of the late nineteenth-century group of hymn-tune writers.

–page 57

Barnby composed an oratio (Rebekah), solo pieces, service music, anthems for choirs, and 246 hymn tunes.  Perhaps the best-known hymn tune he composed was Laudes Domini, the traditional tune for “When Morning Gilds the Skies.”

Barnby also edited five hymnals, the most renowned of which is the 1872 Anglican Hymnary, a High Church volume.  If you, O reader, desire to find a copy of that book, follow this link, where you will find it available in various formats.

The positive legacy of Sir Joseph Barnby lingers, fortunately.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

NOVEMBER 26, 2012 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT JOHN BERCHMANS, ROMAN CATHOLIC SEMINARIAN

THE FEAST OF ISAAC WATTS, HYMN WRITER

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovely:

We bless your name for inspiring Joseph Barnby and all those who

with words and images have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns,

one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728

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Revised on November 21, 2016

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