Hugo Distler's "Eine deutsche Choralmesse": A conductor's analysis for performance
AuthorPlace, Robert Keith, 1957-
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis study culminated in an analysis of Hugo Distler's Eine deutsche Choralmesse for the following purposes: assisting the conductor to achieve a general understanding of the work, determining appropriate conducting gestures, and promoting a greater exposure of this largely-neglected work. The study begins with a summary of certain historical, biographical and stylistic information pertinent to Distler's work. The political, social and religious climate in Germany during the second quarter of the twentieth century is discussed. Particularly relevant is the National-Socialist attitude toward organized religion, which, among other consequences, involved an attack on the Protestant Church in an attempt at coercive unity under the State. Hugo Distler, possessed of a mild temperament and nervous personality, chose to ignore the unrestrained power and injustice wielded by the Nazi government under which he lived. He was able to continue his life and work because he posed no blatant threat to the regime. Like many notable musicians of the time, Distler's ability to continue his work resulted from his acceptance of the so-called "New Church Music." The author summarizes the tenets of this musical movement as researched and documented by Charles R. Anders in his fine thesis, "Hugo Distler and the New Church Music," and the composer's attraction to neoclassic models is discussed. Of particular relevance to this study is Distler's interest in the tradition of the German Protestant Mass. Hugo Distler's Eine deutsche choralmesse, opus 3, is an historically important composition in that it is one of a few notable works that reestablishes the tradition of the German Protestant Mass following a long period of liturgical and musical decline. The focus of this paper concerns the structure and design of Distler's Mass and each movement is analyzed as to form, texture, dynamics, timbre, harmony, and rhythm. The author then discusses areas that are potentially problematic to the conductor and singers and offers suggestions for their resolution. Since the relevance of this study is performance-related, the actual rehearsal process proved valuable in furthering an assessment of the work and provided the groundwork on which recommendations for problem resolution were based.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Music and Dance