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Wie schön : ein geistliches Brautlied

by Elliott Gyger (2007)

Wie schön


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Wie schön / Elliott Gyger ; [words by] Philipp Nicolai.

Library shelf no. 782.55525/GYG 8 [Available for loan]

Work Overview

This work is an elaborate setting of the extremely familiar Phillip Nicolai hymn Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, written for the wedding of two Boston friends. Although often associated with Epiphany, Nicolai's text bears the subtitle "ein geistliches Brautlied" (a spiritual bride-song), and abounds in joyful, at times extravagant, wedding imagery. It is in many ways a companion piece to his other, even more famous, chorale Wachet auf: the two hymns explore the same text metaphors and have closely related melodies - a fact I take advantage of in the fifth verse of my setting, in which the two tunes are superimposed, and the texts interleaved.

Unlike much of my other music, the nature of the chorale melody demanded that this piece be unabashedly tonal, with complexity arising out of the textural and contrapuntal interplay between the three choirs. It was only after the fact that I noticed that Wie schön contains the four attributes traditionally associated with weddings in our culture: something old (the chorale tunes), something new (my contribution), something borrowed (the opening phrase of a well-known Bach motet towards the end), and something blue (the jazzy chords of verse 4)!

Work Details

Year: 2007

Instrumentation: S in ripieno, SATB semichorus, SATB choir.

Duration: 7 min.

Difficulty: Medium — main choir part of moderate difficulty, semichorus part more challenging

Dedication note: for Jen and Greg

First performance: by Elliott Gyger — St Paul Catholic Church, Cambridge, MA, USA


Performances of this work

Unknown date: St Paul Catholic Church, Cambridge, MA, USA. Featuring Elliott Gyger.

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