Oakeley, Sir Herbert (Stanley)

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Organi, Bartolomeo degli.

See Bartolomeo degli Organi.

Organino (i)


(1) A term for a small organ, notably the 14th- and 15th-century instrument generally known as Portative.

Organino (ii).

A free-reed instrument based on the regals said to have been made by Filippo Testa in 1700; a precursor of the Reed organ.


See Hurdy-gurdy.

Organized piano [Organ-piano].

A piano, usually a square, to which organ pipes have been added. See Claviorgan.

Organ mass.

A collection of versets for the organ replacing parts of the Ordinary and Proper of the Mass and played in alternation with the sung portions. The term Alternatim is frequently used to describe the practice of dividing sections of a liturgical text between organ and choir. The choir normally sings a plainchant setting of the Mass when alternating with the organ. The practice belongs almost exclusively to the liturgy of the Roman Catholic Church.

The extant literature of organ masses covers most of Western Christendom and some 500 years of music history, beginning about 1400 with the organ versets in I-FZc 117 and ending late in the 19th century with works such as Justin’s L’organiste à la messe … 11 messes: plainchant alternant avec l’orgue (1870).

1. Ecclesiastical legislation and the liturgy.

2. The extant literature.



Organ mass

1. Ecclesiastical legislation and the liturgy.

The organ mass is essentially a practice and not a musical form, and as such it came to be regulated by ecclesiastical prescription. The earliest document issued by the Apostolic See to refer in detail to liturgical organ music is the Caeremoniale episcoporum or ‘Bishops’ Ceremonial’ of Pope Clement VIII (Rome, 1600). This permits the use of the organ each Sunday, except those during Advent and Lent, and on all important feast days, and it lists the moments in the offices when the organ might intervene. The section concerning the Mass reads:

At the solemn Mass the organ is played alternatim for the Kyrie eleison and the Gloria in excelsis …; likewise at the end of the Epistle and at the Offertory; for the Sanctus, alternatim; then more gravely and softly during the Elevation of the Most Holy Sacrament; for the Agnus Dei, alternatim, and at the verse before the post-Communion prayer; also at the end of the Mass.

This arrangement, which had already been practised in broad outline for over 200 years, was maintained until the beginning of the 20th century. It was sustained not only by the authority of the Caeremoniale espiscoporum but also by the numerous local diocesan ceremonials, and by ceremonials published for the use of religious orders. It was finally changed by Pope Pius X, whose Motu proprio (1903) imposed a formal ban on alternatim organ music in general.

(i) Alternatim practice in the Ordinary.

The Caeremoniale episcoporum omits to describe the manner in which the texts of the Ordinary were to be apportioned. The instruction alternatim is clearly intended to suffice. A fairly standard division of the text is revealed in extant organ masses of the 16th century, and continues in later sources. The division for the Kyrie, Gloria and Agnus Dei customarily falls into the following pattern (portions taken by the organ are shown in italics):

Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison. Christe eleison. Christe eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison.
[Intonation: Gloria in excelsis Deo.] Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Laudamus te. Benedicimus te. Adoramus te. Glorificamus te. Gratias agimus tibi propter magnam gloriam tuam. Domine Deus, rex caelestis, Deus pater omnipotens. Domine fili, unigenite Jesu Christe. Domine Deus, Agnus Dei, filius patris. Qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Qui tollis peccata mundi, suscipe deprecationem nostram. Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris, miserere nobis. Quoniam tu solus sanctus. Tu solus Dominus. Tu solus altissimus, Jesu Christe. Cum Sancto Spiritu. In gloria Dei patris. Amen.
Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, miserere nobis. Agnus Dei qui tollis peccata mundi, dona nobis pacem.

The Sanctus and Benedictus might be subject to various arrangements, including one in which the Benedictus was subsumed by a piece of organ music at the Elevation (Schaefer, 1987). In the French classical tradition the Sanctus was often treated thus (organ versets in italics):

Sanctus. Sanctus. Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabbaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.

In all, this makes 19 organ versets: nine for the Gloria, five for the Kyrie, two each for the Sanctus and Agnus and one for the Benedictus (although strictly speaking the Benedictus is not alternatim). The text of the Credo, according to the Caeremoniale episcoporum, was not to be divided between organ and choir although before 1600 organ versets had appeared quite frequently for the Credo, as for instance in Cavazzoni’s Intabulatura d’organo … libro secondo (?1543) and in the Mass ‘Kyrie fons bonitatis’ of Attaingnant’s publication Tabulature pour le jeu d’orgues (1531). Such settings were clearly no longer generally acceptable after the Counter-Reformation.

The alternatim pattern given above is the one intended for such famous organ masses as François Couperin’s Messe pour les paroisses (1690). Variations in this pattern after the beginning of the 16th century are found normally only in the distribution of the versets for the Gloria and the Sanctus and Benedictus, although variations of course occur when the Gloria is troped: the Missa de Beata Virgine from Cavazzoni’s Intabulatura includes such a Gloria setting with 12 versets. An earlier example, also with Marian tropes, is to be found in the Buxheim Organbook (c1470, in D-Mbs). The practice of troping was banned by the Council of Trent.

Whether or not an Elevation verset was part of an alternatim sequence for the Benedictus, the Caeremoniale episcoporum specifically stipulated quieter and more serious music at this moment. Frescobaldi’s three Toccate per l’elevatione from his Fiori musicali (1635) exemplify the intensely expressive music deemed appropriate (Tagliavini, 1984). There is also a beautiful Tierce en taille for the Elevation in Couperin’s Messe pour les couvents (1690).

At the very end of the Mass, the organ normally responds with ‘Deo gratias’ to the priest’s ‘Ite missa est’.

(ii) Alternatim practices in the Proper.

The Caeremoniale episcoporum mentions the intervention of the organ ‘at the end of the epistle’, ‘at the offertory’, and ‘at the verse before the post-communion prayer’; in other words, at the gradual or alleluia or both, the offertory, and the communion. But once again it does not indicate the distribution of the texts of these items between the organ and the choir. It is difficult to gain an overall view of practices concerning the Proper (with the notable exception of the offertory) from musical examples, since these are distributed very unevenly over time and place.

Although Clement’s ceremonial does not refer to the introit in connection with alternatim practices, some organists had been accustomed to producing versets for this item (for example, there are settings in the Buxheim Organbook, an elaborate three-verset setting of the introit Resurrexi in Thomas Preston’s Missa in die Paschae, ed. in EECM, x, 1969, no.5, and all of 47 settings in the Leopolita Tablature, c1580). In all, Lynn has located 104 organ settings from the period c1460–c1630. But extant examples from after the early 17th century are few, and the practice is hardly mentioned in ceremonials. An exception occurs in a German Caeremoniale benedictinum published in Dillingen in 1641: the choir is instructed to begin the introit, the organ to play the verse, the choir to sing ‘Gloria’ and ‘Sicut erat’, and the organ to repeat the antiphon.

Organ music at the gradual and alleluia on the other hand was clearly used as frequently after 1600 as before. The alternatim patterns seem to vary greatly, and it is not always certain that alternatim in its strict sense was intended. For instance, a Caeremoniale monasticum … ordinis S. Benedicti (Toul, 1695) reads: ‘afterwards the organ plays the whole of the gradual with its verse’. This may also be the meaning of Banchieri’s instruction in his L’organo suonarino: ‘Finita l’epistola una toccata del primo tuono’ (cf Frescobaldi’s Canzone dopo l’epistola in his Fiori musicali). If, however, the gradual was sometimes replaced entirely by the organ, then other ceremonials demand no less clearly an equal division between organ and choir. A Rituale cisterciense (Paris, 1727) instructs the organ to begin and the choir to take over at the verse: ‘Post epistolam pulsatur ad responsorium, sed versum sequentem … cantat chorus’.

There remain few organ versets for the gradual. Thomas Preston’s two-verset setting of Haec dies from his Missa in die Paschae is a rarity, as is Gaspard Corrette’s single-verset gradual in his Messe du 8e ton (1703). A late 18th-century French manuscript entitled Livre d’orgue pour la Chapelle royale (in F-V) gives the plainchant intonation for each gradual for the feasts on which the organ was played, leaving the precise nature of the organist’s intervention unclear.

Instructions on the performance of the alleluia are often more specific: Banchieri (L’organo suonarino) wrote, ‘Dopo l’alleluia, e versetto si replica l’alleluia’, a clear indication that the organ takes up the repeat of the alleluia after the verse. Among those ceremonials which mention alternatim alleluias, some allow the organ to intervene only at the last jubilus of the repeat. Others, including the famous Caeremoniale parisiense (Paris, 1662), also allow the organ to play the repeat of the alleluia before the verse. The Versailles Livre d’orgue mentioned above gives the chant for the intonation of each alleluia. Thomas Preston provided a unique set of alleluia versets in his Missa in die Paschae.

By way of contrast, extant offertory versets are numerous, and they show that the intervention of the organ at the offertory was standardized at an early date. From the English pre-Reformation settings of the Marian antiphon Felix namque to the French offertoires of the 19th century the formula was the same: the intonation of the offertory antiphon was sung and the organ played from then onwards. This very simple form of alternation eventually led composers to treat the offertory with a considerable degree of freedom, for once the custom of using the plainchant as a cantus firmus had passed, even the obligation to match the mode of the sung intonation was forgotten: there was no ensuing choir verset to accommodate. Indeed, the offertoires of the French classical school were simply free-standing pieces, written on a large scale to span the liturgical ceremonies at this point in the Mass.

It appears to have been common practice to use the organ at the communion antiphon. A Caeremoniale monasticum (Paris, 1634) reads: ‘play alternatim at the antiphon which is said at the communion’. The organist might also be required to provide music during the distribution: ‘ad communionem cleri et populi pulsatur organum’ (Ceremoniale lexoviense, Lisieux, 1747). But it is not clear whether such versets as the one headed ‘pour la communion’ in Grigny’s Premier livre d’orgue (1699) are intended for use during the communion, or for the communion antiphon, or for both at once. The communion antiphon would be treated in the same way as the offertory: intonation and then organ verset.

These practices, variously described by the official texts of the Roman Catholic Church, were not in the main copied by the Protestant reformed churches. The exceptions (bits of an alternatim mass in the third part of Scheidt’s Tabulatura nova, 1624) were hangovers, and soon fell into disuse. The matter of J.S. Bach’s so-called organ mass is considered below (§2(iii)).

Organ mass

2. The extant literature.

The extant examples of alternatim organ music for the Mass should be seen in their correct perspective: they are the recorded monuments of what was above all an improvisatory art, long practised by countless organists in innumerable churches. If some organ masses have been written down, they are but the most minute fraction of the organ music to which the practice of alternatim gave birth. Their notated form allowed them to serve as exemplars and (more modestly) to supply the less competent improvisers with something to play. Most extant organ masses consist of versets for the Ordinary. Versets for the Proper were less easy to supply in any useful fashion on account of the wide repertory of chants involved.

(i) The use of plainchant.

(ii) Alternatim styles.

(iii) History.

Organ mass, §2: The extant literature

(i) The use of plainchant.

Until the middle of the 17th century it was normal for the portion of plainchant replaced by the organ to be used structurally in the organ verset itself. Even after 1650 plainchant continued to exert its influence, but only rarely as a structural element, at least until the reappearance of strict cantus firmus techniques in the middle of the 18th century. The plainchant masses upon which organ versets for the Ordinary were most commonly based were those used on Sundays and the principal feasts of the Church’s calendar. In the modern Gradual they are known as: Cunctipotens genitor Deus (IV), Cum jubilo (IX) and Orbis factor (XI) (the figures in parentheses showing the modern enumeration).

Where organ versets are not built upon the plainchant they replace, there may be some difficulty in identifying the plainchant with which they were intended to alternate. Crucially, of course, the organ had to remain in the tonality appropriate to the mode of the plainchant being used by the choir. So, for example, Gaspard Corrette’s Messe du 8e ton, although not structurally based on any particular chant, was written for use with a plainchant setting in the 8th mode, or one compatible with the key of G major. It could not, therefore, alternate with the setting Cunctipotens genitor Deus.

Organ mass, §2: The extant literature

(ii) Alternatim styles.

The liturgical use of the organ in the Mass juxtaposed organ music and plainchant. The plainchant itself was subject to vastly different readings and interpretative styles, some of which led to vocal performances of the chant coming very close to the tempo and rhythmic articulation of the cantus firmus in the organ verset. In some places improvised discant might have been employed by the singers (called ‘chant sur le livre’ in France). In other places, notably France from the second half of the 17th century, newly composed ‘plainchant’ was used alongside the organ versets (see below). Evidence for the use of the organ to support the sung portions of plainchant is largely lacking. Several factors make it highly unlikely that the organ participated as both solo and accompanimental instrument on any regular basis. Evidence for the use of ‘polyphonic’ vocal settings in alternation with the organ is more plentiful, though not all of it is unambiguous. Mahrt (1969) argued that the polyphonic masses of Heinrich Isaac may have been used alternatim with organ. Certainly polyphonic settings of strophic items, such as hymns and canticles, might have been so employed. The problem with the Ordinary of the Mass is that its forms are not strophic in the same way. Nevertheless, a ceremonial for the French diocese of Toul (Cérémonial de Toul, 1700) explains in detail how vocal music (chant figuré as opposed to plainchant) might be accommodated within the tradition:

At the Mass one plays five times at the Kyrie when it is sung in the choir in plainchant; four times when it is sung ‘en musique’ [i.e. organ–Kyrie–organ–Christe–organ–Kyrie–organ]; and twice only when the musicians sing Kyrie, Christe, Kyrie without a break [i.e. organ–Kyrie+Christe+Kyrie–organ].

This ceremonial also explains that when the Gloria is sung ‘en musique’, the organ does not intervene at all. For the remainder of the Ordinary ‘en musique’, the organ plays once before the Sanctus, for the Benedictus and for the first and third Agnus. A similar scene is used in several vocal mass settings by Marc-Antoine Charpentier. His Messe pour le samedi de Pâques à 4 voix contains instructions for the interpolation of organ versets in the Kyrie and Sanctus. The Benedictus is wholly sung. (The Agnus is omitted in accordance with liturgical practice on Holy Saturday.) The Sanctus bears the following rubrics: ‘Premier Sanctus pour l’orgue sur le plein jeu’; ‘Second Sanctus’ (polyphonic vocal setting); ‘Troisième Sanctus pour l’orgue sur les petits jeux’; ‘Pleni sunt … in excelsis’ (to a polyphonic vocal setting). Here therefore, Charpentier introduced the organ between the second ‘Sanctus’ and ‘Pleni sunt’. Somewhat later Michel Corrette published a collection of masses (Quatre messes à deux voix égales, avec l’accompagnement de l’orgue à l’usage des dames religieuses) showing the alternation of vocal settings and organ versets. In the second and third masses only half of the liturgical text is set (including the Gloria), Corrette directing the organist to interpolate versets at the breaks. Appropriate versets, according to a note at the head of the second mass, were to be found in the composer’s ‘Ie livre d’orgue’, referring not to Corrette’s Premier livre but to a much later ‘livre Ir’ of Pièces pour l’orgue dans un genre nouveau à l’usage des dames religieuses.

Organ mass, §2: The extant literature

(iii) History.

The manuscript I-FZc 117 (c1400; complete facsimile in MD, xiii–xv, 1959–61, and MSD, x, 1962; ed. in CMM, lvii, 1972) contains two Kyrie–Gloria sets (one incomplete) and a single Kyrie verset. This transcription shows a tenor plainchant cantus firmus in predominantly long, equal note values over which a lively discantus dances. No less reminiscent of 12th-century St Martial organa are the versets found in the earliest extant German sources, the so-called Sagan Manuscript (PL-WRu, c1425) and the Wynsem Manuscript (D-Bsb, c1430; both ed. in CEKM, i, 1963). The first includes three versets for the Gloria, the second a Sanctus and incomplete Credo.

A more flexible approach to the cantus firmus is found in the three-part settings belonging to the Buxheim Organbook (D-Mbs, c1470). Here the plainchant is organized rhythmically. This source contains (in addition to the troped Gloria mentioned above, several settings of the Kyrie, a single Credo and a Sanctus) versets for three introits.

Two English organ masses survive from the very early years of the 16th century: Missa in die Paschae by Thomas Preston, which consists exclusively of settings of the Proper, and a complete setting of the Ordinary, with a troped Kyrie for Trinity Sunday, by Philip ap Rhys (EECM, x, 1969, no.1). There remain also a significant number of English offertory versets, among which Felix namque settings predominate. The offertory antiphon Felix namque was prescribed for Lady Masses. (Surviving examples of pre-Reformation English organ music for the Mass are transcribed in EECM, x (1969).)

The two earliest extant French organ masses also date from the first half of the 16th century. Moreover, they are the first printed organ masses. They appear in Attaingnant’s Tabulature pour le jeu d’orgues (1531), which set the pattern for printed organ masses for the next 200 years. The versets are for the Ordinary and, with the exception of those for the Kyrie of the Mass ‘Kyrie fons bonitatis’, based on the fourth plainchant. This setting (Cunctipotens genitor Deus) was favoured (and continued to be favoured in France) for ‘annual and solemn feasts’. The plainchant is still treated as a strict cantus firmus, mainly in the bass.

Cavazzoni, in his Intabulatura d’organo … libro secondo (?1543), was one of the first composers to break away from the strict cantus firmus style and to produce a more unified texture. His versets normally start with a compact series of imitative entries, taking the plainchant incipit as their ‘point’, and proceed to a fuller statement of the plainchant, either in the soprano or in the bass. The Intabulatura contains three masses, Missa apostolorum (IV), Missa domenicalis (XI) and Missa de Beata Virgine (IX). The same basic titles, and the same plainchants, occur in the three organ masses by Andrea Gabrieli (in one of the Turin tablatures, I-Tn) and in those by Claudio Merulo (Messe d’intavolatura d’organo, 1568). Organ versets for the Mass also appear in the work of Hans Buchner (Fundamentum) and Cabezón, and in a Polish manuscript (PL-Kp: the Lublin Tablature).

Towards the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th the extant literature of organ versets from the Catholic parts of Germany is much slighter than from Italy, but there are manuscript sets of versets for the mass by Hans Leo Hassler (one complete in the Turin manuscripts) and Christian Ehrbach (five Kyries and one Gloria), which show that alternatim organ music was in use. An anonymous German 16th-century source contains three masses in organ tablature (Wolff, 1994).

The 17th century is the most important in the history of the organ mass, both for the number of publications and for the degree of technical accomplishment. Banchieri’s treatise L’organo suonarino (1605), of which the third edition (1622) contains a Missa alla domenica, was followed by Bottazzi’s Choro et organo (1614), Frescobaldi’s Fiori musicali (1635), Salvatore’s Ricercari … e versi per rispondere nelle messe (1641), Croci’s Frutti musicali (1642) and Fasolo’s Annuale (1645), each of which contains three masses: the familiar Mass for the Apostles, Mass for Sunday and Mass for Our Lady. Frescobaldi’s publication is exceptional in that, of the Ordinary, only the Kyrie is set. The remaining pieces are for the processional (‘avanti la Messa’), the gradual (‘dopo l’epistola’), offertory (‘dopo il Credo’), the Elevation and the post-communion. The Kyries use the normal plainchants, but for each mass there are more than five versets; clearly some are alternatives.

In France also, publications containing organ masses abound, beginning at about the time that Italian publication ceased: Nivers’ 2e livre d’orgue (1667), Lebègue’s Second livre d’orgue (n.d.), Gigault’s Livre de musique pour l’orgue (1685), Raison’s Livre d’orgue contenant cinq messes (1688), Grigny’s Premier livre d’orgue (1699) and the most outstanding masses of the French classical school, those of François Couperin (ii) in his Pièces d’orgue consistantes en deux messes (1690). There are also settings in manuscript: two in an anonymous livre d’orgue formerly belonging to Marguerite Thiery (now in F-Pc), another in an anonymous collection of organ music sometimes attributed to Jean-Nicolas Geoffroy (all three published in A.C. Howell: Five French Baroque Organ Masses, Lexington, Kentucky, 1961), and five in the Livre d’orgue de Montréal, a late 17th-century compilation of Parisian provenance (ed. E. Gallat-Morin, Paris and Montreal, 1988).

With the emergence of the French classical school, notable changes are found in compositional techniques. The old polyphonic structures were discarded in favour of the new concertato style: the récit, the Tierce en taille, the basse de trompette and the dialogue appeared; the old forms were transformed into the fugue, the plein jeu and the fond d’orgue, and the organ was exploited for its variety of colour. The structural use of plainchant diminished to such an extent that the Paris diocese actually directed (in the Caeremoniale parisiense) that the plainchant in use should appear, completely unaltered, in the versets for the first and last Kyrie, at the words ‘Et in terra pax … suscipe deprecationem nostram’ and ‘In gloria Dei patris. Amen’ of the Gloria, and also in the versets for the first Sanctus and Agnus. However, the full force of this injunction appears seldom to have been felt by composers. Even so sensitive a liturgist as Nivers only went so far as to observe it for the first versets of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus and Agnus. A similar compromise was reached by both Couperin (in his Messe pour les paroisses) and Grigny, with the exception in Couperin’s case of a cantus firmus setting of the last Kyrie. The treatment of the cantus firmus plainchant in these instances is often rather selfconscious, partly because the standard registration for versets with a cantus firmus calls for the plainchant to be played on the loudest stops of the organ: the pedal Trompette and Clairon. This contrasts with the easy manner in which other versets may freely paraphrase the plainchant.

In other settings, notably Couperin’s Messe pour les couvents and the five masses of Raison’s Livre d’orgue (1688), the demands of the Paris ceremonial seem to be totally ignored, but for understandable reasons. These organ masses were intended for use in religious houses where the diocesan ceremonial had no jurisdiction, and where local usages existed, such as the employment of special chants for the Mass. Many of these chants were often newly composed (i.e. messes musicales) and required organ versets which remained in the same key throughout the Ordinary, unlike organ masses written to alternate with the fourth plainchant. It was these demands which Couperin and Raison had to meet. Raison’s publication with its variety of keys is intended to supply versets for any messe musicale. Interestingly, Couperin’s Messe pour les couvents, written in the 8th mode (more or less G major), conforms to the key needed for alternation with Nivers’ ‘plainchant’ setting for feasts of the first solemnity, transposed from F to G (perhaps to suit nuns’ voices). Nivers’ messes musicales were in wide circulation in service books published for the use of monastic orders.

French organ masses continued to dominate the scene in the 18th century. Although Gaspard Corrette’s Messe du 8e ton (1703) stands firmly in the classical tradition, his son Michel was responsible for a new development in compositional technique, altogether uncharacteristic of the classical school. Each of the four masses of his IIIe livre d’orgue … contenant les messes (1756) consists of versets written almost without exception upon a strict plainchant cantus firmus in the bass. This return to cantus firmus settings became very popular and continued well into the 19th century, but whatever its liturgical advantages it produced nothing of artistic merit (van Wye, 1995).

The French also cultivated the messe en noëls, which became a notable Christmas attraction in fashionable Paris churches. Here each verset is based upon a popular Christmas carol. Claude-Bénigne Balbastre was renowned for his improvised messes en noëls, and some examples by Benaut survive. The cult of the organist as entertainer also led to extravagant and entirely inappropriate versets for the offertory. The Mass in F by Benaut contains an offertoire in several sections inscribed: ‘Prélude, ou Réveil de chasseurs’, ‘Chasse flamande’, ‘Repos de chasse, tempo di minuetto’, and ‘Retour de la chasse’. These trends continued into the 19th century with Christmas enlivened by such works as Alexandre Boëly’s Messe du jour de Noël … sur les airs populaires anciens (1842), while the general production of organ music for the Ordinary continued with such works as the Livre d’orgue op.26 of J.A. Miné. The style of Miné’s versets is similar to Michel Corrette’s, but still simpler. They consist of little more than harmonizations of a plainchant bass, of negligible musical interest (van Wye, 1970). Some 19th-century Italian sources reveal a more ambitious approach. Vincenzo Petrali (1832–89) published versets for the Mass on the scale and in the character of operatic arias and interludes.

The case of the third part of J.S. Bach’s Clavier-Übung being called an organ mass (first by E. Krieger in 1930) forms an interesting footnote to this account. Despite the intriguing appearance of versets for the Kyrie and Gloria in the third part of Scheidt’s Tabulatura nova of 1624 (see Herman, 1969), the use of alternatim organ music for the Mass was generally not adopted by the Lutheran Church, nor indeed by any of the reformed churches. Book 3 of Bach’s Clavier-Übung provides for the Mass only in the sense that it contains elaborate chorale preludes on Lutheran chants for the Kyrie and the Gloria. Bach’s organ music ‘sub communione’ (e.g. Jesus Christus, unser Heiland bwv665) had a specific liturgical role in the Mass, one with which the chorale partitas have also been associated (Clement, 1991). However, there is no alternatim practice at work here.

Although the Roman Church banned alternatim organ music after 1903, much music for use during the Mass has of course been written since then (Kotek, 1974). Messiaen’s Messe de la Pentecôte (1949–50) is a notable example. It consists of five movements (the term ‘verset’ is no longer appropriate): ‘Entrée’, ‘Offertoire’, ‘Consécration’, ‘Communion’ and ‘Sortie’.

Organ mass



G.M. Asola, ed.: Canto fermo sopra messe, hinni, et altre cose ecclesiastiche (Venice, 1592)

A. Banchieri: L’organo suonarino (Venice, 1605, 4/1638)

A. Banchieri: Conclusioni nel suono dell’organo (Bologna, 1609/R, 2/1626)

A. Tessier: ‘Les messes d’orgue de Couperin’, ReM, vi/6–8 (1924–5), 37–48

Y. Rokseth: Preface to Deux livres d’orgue parus chez Pierre Attaingnant en 1531, PSFM, 1st ser., i (1925/R)

A. Schering: ‘Zur Alternatim-Orgelmesse’, ZMw, xvii (1935), 19–32

L. Schrade: ‘The Organ in the Mass of the 15th Century’, MQ, xxviii (1942), 329–36, 467–87

D. Stevens: ‘A Unique Tudor Organ Mass’, MD, vi (1952), 167–75 [on mass by Rhys]

K. Jeppesen: ‘Eine frühe Orgelmesse aus Castell’Arquato’, AMw, xii (1955), 187–205

A.C. Howell: ‘French Baroque Organ Music and the Eight Church Tones’, JAMS, xi (1958), 106–18

D. Stevens: ‘Thomas Preston’s Organ Mass’, ML, xxxix (1958), 29–34

J.D. Bergsagel: ‘On the Performance of Ludford’s Alternatim Masses’, MD, xvi (1962), 35–55

F.M. Siebert: ‘Mass Sections in the Buxheim Organ Book: a Few Points’, MQ, l (1964), 353–66

Sister Thomas More [M. Berry]: ‘The Practice of Alternatim’, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, xviii (1967), 15

C. Cannon: The 16th- and 17th-Century Organ-Mass: a Study in Musical Style (diss., New York U., 1968)

K.F. Herman: Two North German Lutheran Organ Masses from the Early Seventeenth Century (thesis, San Diego State College, 1969)

W.P. Mahrt: The ‘Missae ad organum’ of Heinrich Isaac (diss., Stanford U., 1969)

H.-J. Wilbert: Die Messen des Adriano Banchieri (diss., Mainz U., 1969)

B.D. van Wye: The Influence of Plainsong Restoration on the Growth and Development of the Modern French Liturgical Organ School (diss., U. of Illinois, 1970)

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F. Tasini: ‘Le messe organistiche del Croci: tra didattica e prassi liturgica’, Antiquae musicae italicae studiosi, no.8 (1988), 3–12

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