commentary to opus 85b

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Praeludium in D for Organ, opus 85b (1979)


Duration: 3 minutes

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If the Catholic Church, since the Council, regards Gregorian chant as the music linked most fundamentally with its identity, then we see this idea particularly at work in Hummel's organ music - here one of his replies quoted above is relevant: Gregorian chant is indispensable as a source of inspiration for any genuine kind of church music. The second source of inspiration after Gregorian chant is church hymnody. If Hummel does not take sections or particles of melody from these two sources as modi, then he invents modi as building blocks, sequences of notes taken from his memory or models and modified suitably for contrapuntal and harmonic treatment.
This method of working can be particularly clearly seen and heard in the short pieces he wrote for the "Augsburger Orgelbuch für den gottesdienstlichen Gebrauch" (Augsburg Organ Book for use in Church Services) (four volumes, Böhm & Sohn, Augsburg). The pieces are a Praeludium in D (vol. 2), an Improvisation: "Komm, Schöpfer Geist" ("Come, Creator Spirit", Gotteslob No. 245) (vol. 3) and a Postludium: "Laßt uns erfreuen herzlich sehr" ("Let us be glad from our hearts", Gotteslob No. 585) (vol. 4).
In the Praeludium, a series of six notes is woven into every part of the piece. If one cannot speak of half a twelve-tone row, it is nevertheless interesting in this context that Hummel seldom applies twelve-tone compositional technique in its strict form, since he wishes to fix his parameters for the composition himself.

(from Franz A. Stein, "Die Kirchenmusik Bertold Hummels", Tutzing, 1998)

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