• Composers

    Orlande de Lassus (1532-1594)

    The essay “Eloquent Lamentation” contains a brief introduction to the life and work of Lassus. Works by Orlande de Lassus in theAll Saints Choir repertoire Agnus Dei (from Missa Doulce Mémoire) Agnus Dei (from Missa Octavi toni) Benedictus es Domine Christus Resurgens Ego sum panis vivus Ego sum resurrectio et vita Expectans expectavi Fili, quid fecisti nobis Jubilate deo Justorum animae Super flumina Babylonis

  • Composers,  Essays

    Eloquent Lamentation

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the March/April 2018 issue of Touchstone magazine.] Among musically knowledgeable listeners, even those who admire the music of the high Renaissance, the work of Orlande de Lassus is woefully unfamiliar. It was not always so. During his lifetime, in the second half of the sixteenth century, Lassus was easily the most famous composer in Europe. With contemporaries that included Palestrina, Victoria, and Byrd, such fame is a remarkable tribute to his artistic accomplishments. Another contemporary, the celebrated French poet Pierre de Ronsard, hailed Lassus as one “who like a bee has sipped all the most beautiful flowers of the ancients and moreover seems alone…

  • Composers,  Essays

    A Mysterious Sense of Rightness

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Touchstone magazine.] Few composers have prompted as intense and diverse a chorus of responses as Anton Bruckner (1824-1896). His contemporary Johannes Brahms dismissed Bruckner’s massive symphonies as “a swindle that will be forgotten in a few years.” On the other hand, more than a few years later, Ludwig Wittgenstein would remark: “I don’t believe a note of Gustav Mahler. I believe every note of Anton Bruckner.” While some listeners are attracted to his music at first hearing — an attraction that deepens with time — others adamantly deny that there’s anything there worth loving. In 2012, Jessica Ducken, a…

  • Composers

    A Mysterious Sense of Rightness

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the May/June 2017 issue of Touchstone magazine.] Few composers have prompted as intense and diverse a chorus of responses as Anton Bruckner (1824-1896). His contemporary Johannes Brahms dismissed Bruckner’s massive symphonies as “a swindle that will be forgotten in a few years.” On the other hand, more than a few years later, Ludwig Wittgenstein would remark: “I don’t believe a note of Gustav Mahler. I believe every note of Anton Bruckner.” While some listeners are attracted to his music at first hearing — an attraction that deepens with time — others adamantly deny that there’s anything there worth loving. In 2012, Jessica…

  • Composers,  Essays

    The sound of perpetual light

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the January/February 2015 issue of Touchstone magazine.] One of the most popular works of twentieth-century sacred choral music is the Requiem by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986). Completed in 1947 and still performed regularly in concert, Duruflé’s Requiem is often linked with the earlier (and probably better known) Requiem by Gabriel Fauré, which dates to 1888. Both works are marked by a comforting, serene spirit and both reflect the influence of French musical impressionism, which offers a harmonic vocabulary of mystery. But Duruflé’s setting is distinguished by its pervasive use of Gregorian chant melodies. In the opening Introit, after an introductory measure of shimmering…

  • Composers

    Heinrich Schütz (1585-1672)

    Composer and music historian Carl Schalk has written that “Schütz’s contribution to the shaping of the Lutheran musical tradition, particularly in his sensitive and often dramatic expression of the sense of the text in his music, cannot be overestimated.” Yale musicologist Leo Schrade has observed that Schütz was pre-eminently a composer for vocal music: To Schütz, music exists only in its connection with the text; music without words never did inspire him to any artistic achievement, since such a composition would be deprived of the very foundation of his music. Schütz therefore had no interest in instrumental composition. As a matter of fact, he did not compose any instrumental work that…

  • Composers,  Essays

    Schütz: Baroque before Bach

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the September/October 2015 issue of Touchstone magazine.] Exactly one hundred years before the birth of Johann Sebastian Bach in 1685, his greatest German predecessor was born in Köstritz, a small town in what is now Saxony. Heinrich Schütz was arguably the greatest German composer before Bach, the first German composer to enjoy an international reputation. Unlike Bach’s extensive clan, the Schütz family was more involved in commerce and civil service than music. Heinrich’s father, Christoph, eventually became mayor of nearby Weißenfels, but he worked as an innkeeper in that town when Heinrich was a boy. It was there that Heinrich’s natural musical talent…

  • Composers,  Essays

    Christus Victoriae

    by Ken Myers [This article originally appeared in the March/April 2015 issue of Touchstone magazine.] The medieval city of Ávila, seventy miles northwest of Madrid, is best-known to Christians as the birthplace of St. Teresa de Jesus, the sixteenth-century Carmelite nun, mystic, and reformer. Captured by Moors in A.D. 714, the city was retaken by Christian forces in 1088, after which a network of massive stone walls and towers were constructed to protect the city and its new cathedral, construction of which began around 1091. The apse of the cathedral is one of the turrets in the city walls, possibly evoking echoes of Psalm 46 to generations of believers: “The Lord…

  • Composers

    Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625)

    You can read about the life and work of Orlando Gibbons and listen to examples of his music at orlandogibbons.com.   Works by Orlando Gibbons in the All Saints Choir repertoire Almighty and everlasting God Magnificat & Nunc dimittis