I have just finished editing my Op. 39 - Festive Processional for organ which is dedicated to my friend and colleague Paulius Grigonis, Titular Organist at St Joseph church in Vilnius, Lithuania.
He will be performing an organ music concert at the Cathedral in Vilnius this summer and he needed a short 3 minute piece to start the event with a joyful mood.
So I thought it would be fun to compose a Festive Processional for this occasion specifically designed for a 3 manual organ (but 2 manuals would work just fine too).
If you want to play this piece, you'll find the score here. Enjoy!
It starts and ends in C major but who knows what's happening in the middle.
It has ABCBA form with C being central and longest episode.
PS People who like tricky rhythms and syncopations will enjoy it a lot...
I've just completed my Op. 36 - a set of 7 variations for organ on the hymn tune "O Master, Let Me Walk With Thee". You can watch and listen to the video with the music here. The score is also available on that page.
You may have already seen the video and the score of my Op. 2 composition - A Theme and 4 Easy Variations on Meinen Jesum lass ich nicht. I have created this piece back in 2007 but only a few days ago finished transcribing it from my handwriting into the Sibelius notation. Today I will tell you how the piece is constructed and what its musical language is.
I composed this piece while experimenting with major and minor chords and the Dominant seventh chords. At that time I was looking for some colorful techniques that would sound rather modern and at the same time still could be appreciated by the untrained listeners.
As the title suggests, the Theme opens the cycle. It has simple four-part chordal texture and is best played with the Principal 8' stop. The harmonization is not based on the rules of Classical harmony, though. Surprise and colorfulness are very prevalent concepts here.
Variation 1 is a bicinium in 4/4 meter for two parts with a recurring melody - the Ritornello. The chorale tune is in the soprano, played by the 8' reed and the bass - with the 16' reed. In the video I use Oboe and Basson.
Variation 2 is a trio in 6/8 meter. The tune is in the lowest voice and this episode is best played on 8' and 4' flutes. This variation also has the Ritornello.
Variation 3 is a quartet in 3/4 meter with an eight-note motion and I recommend Principals 8', 4', and 2' for the registration. Chorale phrases are connected by the three-part Ritornello.
Variation 4 is a fast-paced Toccata with a simple sixteenth-note figure moving in one of the hands. It's very convenient for performer. The other hand takes the four-note 43 chords in parallel motion and plays the chorale tune.
As you can see, the first 3 variations are composed using Baroque techniques - popular meters and the Ritornello. But the harmonic language is far from Baroque. I use three-note major and minor chords (together with the dominant seventh chords and their inversions). Mostly they are built a minor or a major third apart (up or down) which gives quite a colorful feeling for the entire cycle (you can sense this right from the opening measures of the theme).
Before learning this piece, first try to understand the chords and their inversions. For this to happen, look at every beat, take the bass note and build the chord upwards in a closed position to see what kind of inversion this is. Make a mental note of what kind of interval is used between the chords in each case.
One of my subscribers asked me to create a MIDI file out of yesterdays musical experiment with the period form so that he could listen to it (thanks, John). But then I thought it would be an interesting idea to create a longer piece based on this theme. So in the above pictures you can see a Mini-Waltz. Here is the MIDI file and a PDF for printing. I even added recommended pedaling to make it easier to play. Enjoy!
On December 9, 2013 I participated in a concert of Lithuanian music in Valencia, Spain at the Jesuit's church there in town. Today I would like to share with you two videos from my trip:
Video about the organ
Video of my Fantasia on the Themes by Ciurlionis (2013) for flute and organ (with the flutist Giedrius Gelgotas)
This concert was organized by the Lithuanian Consulate in Valencia as part of the cultural events on the occasion of Lithuania's presidency over the EU Council. We performed music of Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis, a few of my compositions and a choir piece by Donatas Zakaras "Letters to Sophia" which is a very touching composition based on Ciurlionis' letters to his wife, Sophia.
A couple of days ago, I wrote a short piece for the organ on the Gregorian chant tune "Populus Sion" which is designed for the 2nd Sunday in Lent. The style of the piece reminds of some of the 20th century French organ composers because of use of major and minor root position chords and inversions of the D7 chord.
In sections with pedals, I use three-note chords and the rest of the piece is full of seventh-chords and their inversions. Here is the PDF file if you would like to play it.
Knowing that the Advent starts this Sunday, yesterday I found the Introit for the 1st Sunday in Gregorian chant notation which looks like this (excerpt):
Then I created a harmonization of this chant (presented in soprano) using only major and minor root position three-note chords which sounds quite modern. The chords change twice in a measure (every half note) which makes it easier to play.
Here is the score of this harmonization. If you want to play it, I recommend softer flute sounds in the manuals. The bass part could be played with or without pedals. If you play it with your feet, use 16' and 8' flute stops.
If I was to choose just a single name from the Lithuanian history of art and music, that would be Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis (1875-1911) - the most famous painter and composer of my country.
The style of his paintings is highly original - largely symbolic in nature. There were others who tried to imitate the way he painted but no one came close to the depth of his imagination and visions. His music, which started as simple Romantic-style compositions, grew into something which exceeds the limits of this period.
As many of my readers know, last week I spend a couple of days in Paris for a concert of organ, chamber and choir music at La Madeleine which was dedicated to the compositions of Ciurlionis. In addition to his music, I played some of my pieces which were inspired by his themes.
This Prelude (2013) is intentionally quite French-sounding. I used the blues mode in many of the sections in this work. The modal and rhythmical alterations make the practical recognition of the melodies by Ciurlionis largely too difficult.
The structure of the piece is quite simple - sections A consist of fast movement in octaves, sections B - from intervals of the thirds and fourths, and sections C - from three-note chords.
Although the piece is quite fast, it's not particularly difficult to play it. The main challenge is in reading various accidentals, complex rhythms and changing meters.
If you want me to share the score of this piece, please let me know.
Today I'm ready to share the first of my few videos I made during the concert at La Madeleine church in Paris last Friday. Here is a video of my Toccata on the Themes by M.K.Ciurlionis (2011). I placed my camera on the pews at the left side of the console but the organ itself was removed from it quite a bit (it's behind the altar and not visible for the audience).
I have to admit, I was a little anxious before the concert how well the recording part will go from where I have placed the camera. I thought the sound of the pedal stops could have been a little louder for this piece.
Nevertheless, I hope you will enjoy the Tutti sounds of this French instrument. In such a reverberate and vast room even the ugliest organ can sound quite convincing (and this is really great instrument). In order for you to fully appreciate the acoustics of this church, I'm letting you hear the applause of the people in attendence at the end of the performance.
By the way, I have performed this Toccata at La Madeleine two years ago, during a concert with the women's choir "Virgo" of Vilnius University. That time the console was placed next to the organ itself.
Recently I have completed this Prelude for organ from my Organ Mass. It is based on the Introit for the 30th Sunday which will be in 2 weeks.
Today I made a video of it with the score on the screen so you could follow the music (the sound was generated by computer, but I hope you can forgive me for that).
By the way, I have played this Prelude yesterday on the unique 1789 organ in Tytuvenai (about 2.5 hours drive west from Vilnius) and recorded it, but this video is not yet ready to share.
As you can see in this video, this Prelude could be performed without the pedals (as I did in Tytuvenai because this organ only has 2 manuals but no pedals!) but sometimes the distance between the bass and the tenor parts is more than an octave so it's easier to play the bass part with your feet.
The structure of this composition is as follows:
1. Exposition I (D minor)
2. Bridge (F major to A minor)
3. Exposition II (A minor)
4. Development (C major and E major)
5. Preparation for Re-entry (A flat major to D minor)
6. Return of the Tonic Key (D minor)
7. Coda (excursion to G minor)
The harmonic language and texture is intentionally fairly simple which will work well for the village church organ in Mosedis where I will be performing a recital in 2 weeks.
The registration could be quite varied anywhere from a few flutes to a full Principal Chorus sound. If you want to play this piece, here is the PDF file for printing.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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