"Now sing from the mouth and from the heart": The Spiritual Folksongs of Cyrillus Kreek
Armstrong, Laney McClain
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Estonia is a country with a rich history full of music, singing, and ancient traditions. The Estonian composer Cyrillus Kreek (1889-1962) had a passion for the folk songs and traditions of his country, as he collected them, catalogued them, and used them prolifically in his own compositions. While Kreek's music was not widely performed during his lifetime for political reasons, his dedication to and preservation of the Estonian folk song is now recognized as an important contribution to the culture and historical record of the country. A large body of his compositional work uses spiritual folksongs, Lutheran hymns that were adapted and elaborated by small communities in rural parts of Estonia. Kreek collected dozens of these spiritual folksongs and used them as the source material for hundreds of chorale-like arrangements. In the process, he preserved these songs, initially used for personal and community worship, for use in worship and performance in modern-day Estonia. In this document, I explore the life and work of Cyrillus Kreek and the place his spiritual folksong arrangements have in his body of work. I look in detail at five spiritual folksongs and their source melodies, and explore the regional and harmonic origins of the melodic variations. The variants, while heavily influenced by geographical area, also have a relationship to harmonic relationships found in standard versions of the hymns found in J.L. Punschel's 1830 hymnal cataloguing the hymns of the Baltic region. Additionally, I explore Kreek's arrangements of these five spiritual folksongs and the influence standard versions of those hymns may have had on his compositions. This study highlights the extraordinary contribution Kreek made to the Estonian choral music oeuvre and to the preservation of spiritual folksongs through his hundreds of compositions. Included is an index of all of Kreek's spiritual folksong arrangements including titles, hymnal reference numbers, places of origin, and archival numbers from the Estonian Music and Theater Museum.
- Music