Musical contribution - December 2019

(LiVE sample set: Manchester, Hill)

Berceuse: “Silent night”                                                                   Johan den Hoedt

 

“Silent night” is perhaps the best-known Christmas carol in the world. Originally written in German, it has now been translated into more than 140 languages. The carol was performed for the first time in 1818, at the Nicolauskirche in Oberndorf. There are a number of romantic stories about the origin of this song; we’ll leave the question open as to whether or not they’re based on truth. However, what we do know for sure is that the song was originally written with guitar accompaniment.

This year, the 201-year-old melody is being provided with a beautiful and mystical organ accompaniment composed by Johan den Hoedt, a versatile musician and conductor who has well and truly earned his reputation in the music world.

When we approached him to write an arrangement for this Austrian Christmas carol, he responded enthusiastically. The music is dedicated to his colleague, Edwin Vooijs.

In the first 16 bars, the right hand moves in parallel quarters, with open fifths in the left hand. The melody comes in at bar 5. It’s important that all three parts are easy to follow, hence the following registration requirement:

  • RH:     strings
  • LH:     flute
  • Ped.:    principal

The melody comes onto manual 1 in bar 17, with manual 2 and the pedal board accompanying in a simple, yet almost serene way. The quarters movement returns at the end.

This arrangement is a wonderful demonstration of the capacity for a song more than 200 years old to be movingly rendered in contemporary harmonies.

On behalf of the management and staff of Johannus Orgelbouw, I wish you a blessed Christmas.

André van Vliet

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