Thursday, December 19, 2013

Cantus: Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria"



From Wiki:
"Herr Biebl told me that when he was organist/choirmaster and teacher in the Fürstenfeldbruck parish near Munich he had in his church choir a fireman. It was common for companies, factories, police and fire departments, etc. to sponsor an employees' choir, which often would participate in choral competitions and festivals with other similar choirs. This fireman asked Biebl to please compose something for his fireman's choir for such an occasion. The result was the Ave Maria (double male choir version).
"The piece gained practically no attention in Germany for many years. However, when Biebl was the head of choral programs for the Bayerischen Rundfunk (Bavarian Radio) he made a habit of inviting American choirs to come to Munich and sing on the radio and with other German choirs. One of these choirs [Wikipedia ed. - the Cornell University Glee Club, see above] was introduced to his Ave Maria and brought it back to the US, where it became increasingly popular. When Chanticleer recorded it, it became a hit, not only in the US but in Germany too, which now considered the piece must be special as it was such a hit in America! Biebl did arrangements for other voicings, and the seven-part mixed choir arrangement is now probably the most popular.
"The text is unique in its conjoining of two sources. The first source is the thrice-daily devotional exercise called the Angelus in the Catholic Church. It is cued by the ringing of the "Angelus" bell, sometimes referred to as the "Peace Bell." It consists of a thrice-repeated "Hail Mary," each with an introductory versicle based on the Gospel, followed by a concluding versicle and prayer.
"Here is the first part of the Angelus, the only part that Biebl uses:
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae
The Angel of the Lord announced to Mary
Et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
[Ave Maria, Sancta Maria.]
[Hail Mary, Holy Mary.]
Ecce ancilla Domini
Behold the handmaiden of the Lord
Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.
Do to me according to your word.
[Ave Maria, Sancta Maria.]
[Hail Mary, Holy Mary.]
Et verbum caro factum est
And the Word was made flesh
Et habitavit in nobis
And dwelt among us.
[Ave Maria, Sancta Maria]
[Hail Mary, Holy Mary]
[Ora pro nobis sancta Dei genetrix . . .]
"In place of the 'Ave Maria, Sancta Maria' from the Angelus text, Biebl has substituted the first part of the even more familiar text of the standard 'Ave Maria' prayer [Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum, etc.] and in lieu of the closing versicle and prayer of the 'Angelus' he has substituted the second part of the 'Ave Maria' [Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis, etc.], so that the whole is a hybrid of the two ancient texts."

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