An interpretation of the organ symphonies of Louis Vierne (1870–1937) with specific reference to his Methode d Orgue

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Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University
ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Louis Victor Jules Vierne (1870-1937), one of the most prominent French organists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, composed six organ symphonies. The compositional process of these works spans most of the composer’s creative period, and might also in this sense be considered a representation of a significant measure of his stylistic development. Vierne made an important contribution to the artistic awareness and dissemination of the organ playing tradition introduced and taught by the Belgian organist Jaak Nikolaas Lemmens (1823- 1881). While in Switzerland, Vierne began work on a treatise, the Méthode d’Orgue, which conveyed his ideas on organ playing. He did not live to finish it, and it remained unknown to the public until fifty years after his death. The unfinished method was published in 1987 by Les Amis de l’Orgue, and then translated into English in 1999 by Jian Guang Shi as part of his Doctoral dissertation at Rice University (Houston, Texas). The Méthode d’Orgue specifically deals with Vierne’s organ technique and performing methods. It contains a description of the organs to which he was accustomed, as well as studies in legato-like finger substitution, finger crossing in one hand, how to perform his music with “mathematical precision” (Shi 1999: 98), and numerous other aspects related to it. However, it seems that Vierne’s treatise has remained relatively unknown, as there are no articles, dissertations or scholarly papers referring to it in recent years. It is within the field of the performance practice of Vierne’s works that the current study wishes to contribute with a new aspect of research. The aim is to use his treatise to investigate the composer’s initial intentions within the context of their relationship to the French symphonic organ style and Lemmens’ techniques, which had influenced the composer through CharlesMarie Widor’s pedagogy. By referring to Vierne’s Troisième Symphonie pour Orgue, Op. 31 as example, all the above-mentioned objectives will be drawn together in order to determine how they may inform and influence an interpretation of Vierne’s method of organ playing and the performance of his works, also on organs of different stylistic periods.
Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.
Vierne, Louis, 1870-1937, Organ music, Symphonies (Organ), Organ (Musical instrument) -- Methods, UCTD