excerpt from 'Musical Reminiscences Past and Present' pp. 28, 29 (386 words)

excerpt from 'Musical Reminiscences Past and Present' pp. 28, 29 (386 words)

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Musical Reminiscences Past and Present

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28, 29


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At eight o’clock, before I had finished my toilet, I was astonished to receive a visit from my friend, Herr Gustav Merkel, whose organ compositions and performances are justly celebrated wherever they are known. He had called early, he said, in order to make me acquainted with the services at the Hofkirche, where he presides as court organist. I repaired at the appointed time to the church, which unequal, however, to most of our cathedrals, has a noble exterior and a very fine tower. It stands in a prominent and beautiful position near the bridge which crosses the Elbe. Here High Mass is celebrated every Sunday at eleven o’clock, and other services, such as are usual at Roman Catholic churches, follow during the day. The service on this occasion was most imposing, the large orchestra in the great West Gallery being occupied by about sixty performers (band and chorus), and the large organ, one of Silbermann’s best instruments, of which I intend to give a description in my next letter. Crowds of people were pressing on, and it was with some difficulty that I gained an entrance, and obtained access to Herr Merkel’s organ pew. The music consisted of a Mass in F minor, by the conductor, Herr Carl Krebs; an Offertorium, by Rastrelli ; and a Graduale, by Reissiger. With such a force of practical musicians, need I say that the music was given with thrilling power and effect ? and I have no doubt that those who were below, in the body of the church, heard the inspiring strains to much greater advantage than I who was seated amongst the performers. At the conclusion of High Mass nearly all the immense con­gregation, as well as the members of the orchestra, departed, and there followed a short service, the musical part of which was sustained by about a dozen singing boys and singing men, with organ accompaniment only. I had now an opportunity of listening to the organ, and was struck with its rich, full tone. As, however, Herr Merkel’s playing was limited to the require­ments of the service, he made an appointment with me for the following Tuesday, at ten o’clock, in order that we might hear the instrument alone and undisturbed.

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excerpt from 'Musical Reminiscences Past and Present' pp. 28, 29 (386 words)


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