Sheet music

Musical contribution - January 2016

bladmuziek met potlood

Prière (opus 38) Oscar van Durme (1876-1925)

First and foremost, we – the management, the staff at Johannus Organs, and myself – would like to wish you a wonderful, musical and healthy 2016. Although we may not have met in person, it’s still lovely to encounter each other every month on the Johannus website. Many of you truly look forward to the new month; some are even so enthusiastic that they let us know if we’re a day or two later than expected. That anticipation delights us. We’ll be doing our best in the coming year to offer you beautiful music. Your feedback is more than welcome! And now we move on to the music.

Oscar van Durme was born in a little Belgian village between Ghent and Antwerp: Eksaarde. His name is listed on the official website of the village under important local figures. Oscar started his studies in Sint Niklaas, later continuing at the Lemmens Institute in Leuven, where Edgar Tinel was his instructor. His teacher in Leuven was a pupil of Ferdinand van Durme, although I was unable to determine whether this man was related to our Oscar. Later, Oscar van Durme became an organist, teacher and conductor. He also received enthusiastic acclaim as a composer, especially after winning an important award in Paris.

This short piece has what is known as an A-B-A structure. I recently heard someone play an expanded version of this Prière. The organist had added a repeat sign at the reprise, generating an A-B-A-B-A structure. Normally, the flanking sections use a vox humana as the initial stop. If you play the central A section with a different opening stop in the expanded version, it creates a lovely overall effect.

I read a commentary on Oscar van Durme once which said, “Van Durme is classified with the classically oriented Romantics, featuring work which is appreciated for its harmonic structure and refined melodic development”. After playing this charming little piece, you’re sure to agree!

Best wishes,

André van Vliet