The noels of the eighteenth-century French organ school
The noels of the eighteenth-century French organ school were based on religious songs, folk-like in nature, which were sung in the vernacular at the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass. By the seventeenth century, instrumental versions of the noels appeared, and at the end of the century the first keyboard variations on the noel tunes were published.This Doctor of Musical Arts dissertation examines the noel variations of the best known organist-composers to use this genre. The nine composers discussed published noels from 1682 to 1775, beginning with the formula variations of Nicolas Gigault, arriving at the apex of the form with the brilliant variations of Louis-Claude Daquin who went so far as to set some of the noel texts pictorially, and concluding with the works of Jean-Jacques Beauvarlet Charpentier and Claude Balbastre, in whose writing the influences of the harpsichord and the recently introduced piano are evident. While the noels of Nicolas Gigault and Pierre Dandrieu are not available in modern edition, they were obtained on microfilm from the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris in order to be included in this paper.The noels of all of the composers are considered from the standpoint of form, variation techniques, harmonic structure, and stylistic characteristics. Because the noels make use of the forms found in the French Classical organ school, a chapter is devoted to a survey of these forms, including also a brief study of the eighteenth-century French organ and its registration principles.The changes that occurred in the organ noels during the eighteenth century are a reflection of those changes occurring in all of the French organ music of the period; yet while the old forms became increasingly difficult to define, the virtuoso aspects of the noel variations remained.Appendix I, found on pages 186 to 196 at the end of this paper, contains an alphabetical listing of the sixty-nine noel tunes used by the composers studied, including the names of the composers who set each tune.Appendix II is a documentation for an organ recital given by the writer on May 1, 1977. The program included: Vincent Lubeck's Prelude and Fugue in E Major; five Kyrie settings from the Messe by Nicolas de Grigny; J. S. Bach's Concerto in G Major (BWV 592), a transcription of a violin concerto by Prince Johann Ernst; Franck's Choral No. 1 in E Major; Sonata I by Paul Hindemith; and Maurice Durufle's Choral varie sur le theme du "Veni Creator." This Appendix provides program notes to be used in conjunction with the tape recording of the program, which is catalogued in the University Record Library. Preparation of the recital was supervised by Professor Walter A. Eichinger of the University of Washington organ department.Appendix III is a documentation for an organ recital given by the writer on May 7, 1978. The program included: J. P. Sweelinck's "Mein junges Leben hat ein End"; Prelude and Fugue in E Minor (BWV 548) by J. S. Bach; Mozart's Fantasie in F Minor (K. 608); "Fast and Sinister" from the Symphony in G Major by Leo Sowerby; and "Dieu parmi nous" from La Nativite du Seigneur by Olivier Messiaen. A tape recording of the program is catalogued in the University Record Library. Preparation of the recital was supervised by Professor Walter A. Eichinger of the University of Washington organ department.
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