Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg, Vom Himmel hoch da komm ich her
Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg (1718 – 1795) was a German music critic, music theorist and composer. Little is known of Marpurg’s early life. According to various sources, he studied “philosophy” and music. In 1746, he travelled to Paris, where he became acquainted with important intellectual luminaries, such as the writer and philosopher Voltaire, the mathematician d’Alembert and the composer Jean-Philippe Rameau.
After 1746, he returned to Berlin where he was more or less independent. In 1760, he received an appointment to the Royal Prussian Lotteries, whose director he became in 1763.
Marpurg’s compositions consist largely of strophic songs of the kind composed in north Germany in the mid-18th century. He was very active as a compiler and editor of such songs and of keyboard works suited to amateur performers. Most of his surviving compositions appear in these collections; they are competent but not outstanding. In addition he published a set of six sonatas for keyboard (c1755), a collection of fugues (1777) and two collections of chorale preludes.
The Bayerische Staatsbibliothek provides digital copies of these two collections of chorale preludes. As they are largely notated in older (c-) clefs, they are not easily accesible for players nowadays. So it’s time for a modern, free, edition of Marpurg’s organ works.
The first chorale prelude in these two collections is based on the melody of “Vom Himmel hoch, da komm ich her”. Three days after Christmas it is probably the worst timing to publish it now, nevertheless, it’s the first one in the original publications and I want to follow their order. So, here it is anyway, in time for Christmas 2022! The composition consists of two, independently playable, pieces based on this choral melody. The first is a manualiter piece, with the chorale melody in the soprano voice. The second one features the chorale melody in the pedals.
The recording was done with the Hauptwerk software and the sampleset, made by Sonus Paradisi, of the Schittger organ in the St. Martini-kerk, Groningen.
Marpurg, Vom Himmel hoch da kom ich her
Not three days after Christmas but the third day OF Christmas. Christmas continues until 6 January (Epiphany) and the greater Christmas season continues until 2 February (Candlemas).
So we have 40 days of Christmas, 40 days of Lent, and 40 days of Easter!
You’re right of course. Though I never realised the symmetrie of those three times 40 days. Anyway, this piece can still come in handy in the current Christmas period.
Yes, absolutely, you cannot have two many pieces like this.
Thank you, Admin and David Bedlow for the pertinent information. I will pratice and add this to my repertoire of music suitable for this season.