Dedication: to my dear maestro Pierluigi Forcella
First performance | Performers: 7.10.2018 – Herz-Jesu-Kirche in Munich – DMD Wolfgang Kiechle, organ. Other performances: 25.11.2018 – Maximilianskirche in Munich – Konstantin Esterl, organ | 10.10.2020 (Adagio) – Maximilianskirche in Munich – Konstantin Esterl, organ.
Description: (from the edition’s preface)
The organ composition Toccata, Adagio et Fuga super »Herr, du bist mein Leben« was composed in 2018 for the composition competition held by the Archdiocese of Munich as part of the »Tage Neuer Kirchenmusik« festival, which takes place every three years in different Bavarian dioceses. The submissions were three to ten-minute chorale arrangements for organ over a newly introduced melody from the Gotteslob, the official prayer and hymn book of the German-speaking Catholic Church published in 2013. After the jury had split the award across four equal winners, my prizewinning composition was premiered at the Organ Night on Sunday 8th October 2018 at Herz Jesu Kirche in Munich. The composition is based on the idea of being able to play this work both in concert and in a liturgical context. For this reason, I have turned to the form of Toccata, Adagio and Fugue – with a clear reference to Bach’s evocative composition BWV 564 – which can be performed in its entirety in a concert or in its single parts during a liturgy. After having identified the form of my composition, it only remained to choose the reference melody.
The choice fell on a song by the Italian Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri, which has been included in the Gotteslob under number 456 with the title Herr du bist mein Leben with a convincing German translation of the text. The melody was composed by Monsignor Sequeri in 1977 for the Saturday of the »Traditio Symboli«, which, according to the Ambrosian rite, is celebrated on the day before Palm Sunday. On that day the Church commemorates the handing over of the profession of faith (Symbolum) to the new catechumens (the Ambrosian rite runs in parallel with the Roman rite in the Archdiocese of Milan). The song was published the following year under the title Symbolum ’77, it immediately gained enormous popularity and it is still one of the most performed post-conciliar liturgical hymns in Italian churches.
The result is a composition in which the defining characteristics of the three European musical traditions are echoed. Firstly the French tradition in the brilliant Toccatawith the cantus firmus on the pedal. Then the Italian one in the Adagio, in which the melody is proposed in the style of the figured chorale and is supported by an accompaniment of seventh chords that reinforces the meditative progression. Finally the German one withthe strict fugue, in which the melody is fragmented in order to use its various elements in the theme, in the divertimenti and in the sequences according to their specific contrapuntal characteristics.
The formal structure of the Toccata, Adagio et Fuga super »Herr, du bist mein Leben« is so close to tradition that I thought it is sufficient to give only the essential indications of dynamics, phrasing and articulation. The same applies to the registration of the piece, although it should be noted that these few suggestions follow the ideal of sound terraces typical of baroque sensibility. Metronome indications are also proposed, one of them being the fugue, which is symbolically linked to the original title of the melody. While I am particularly grateful to Monsignor Pierangelo Sequeri and to the Rusty Records S.r.l. publishing house of Milan for the permission I was given to work on this wonderful melody, I hope I have revived it with convincing results, in praise of God and for the spiritual upliftment of the performer and the listeners.