Opening Voluntary: Toccata Cromatica “per l’Elevazione” – Girolamo Frescobaldi
At the Offertory: Kyrie “della Domenica” Girolamo Frescobaldi
Closing Voluntary: Prelude on Lobe den Herren – A. W. Leupold
The opening voluntary and the music at the offertory were both composed by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1674), one of the greatest of Italian musicians of the late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. Born in Ferrara, he transferred to Rome in his early 20s and became the organist at the church of Santa Maria in Trastevere. In 1608, he was appointed organist of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, a position that he held intermittently until his death. Although he was to compose many different types of music, it was instrumental music, particularly keyboard music, that formed the bulk of the composer’s work. He published eight collections of keyboard music during his lifetime, and it is for these works that he is most remembered today. The selections performed today come from his Fiori Musicali of 1635. This was his only keyboard collection devoted entirely to church music and his last one containing completely new pieces. The majority of the works are “alternatim” compositions intended for performance in alternation with choir chanting the music of the mass ordinary. The brief “Kyrie” heard at the offertory is one such example. Other pieces were “occasional” pieces of music intended to accompany the physical actions of the mass, such as today’s “Toccata Cromatica,” originally intended to accompany the elevation in the canon of the Mass. This piece makes use of a “special effect” of Baroque Italian organs known as the “piffaro.” This effect was produced by using two sets of pipes simultaneously, one of which had been tuned slightly flat to produce an undulating sound. It is related to the “celeste” stops of organs of the romantic period and later. We achieve this on our organ today by employing the ability to partially “draw” one of the stops and hence limit its airflow, resulting in a slight reduction in pitch.
The postlude today is a chorale prelude on the tune for our entrance hymn (# 390, The Hymnal 1982), Lobe den Herren. It is the work of Anton Wilhelm Leupold (1868-1940). A native of Austria, Leupold became the organist of St. Peter’s Church, Berlin in 1899, a position he would hold for the next forty years. Although he composed many types of church music, the bulk of his works were in the genre of the Chorale prelude, of which he left some 200 examples.