"9/11 | Coming Together" 20th Anniversary Special

Videos

Aug 25, 2021 | #120 Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square

Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is streamed online every Wednesday at 12:00 noon MDT. Piping Up! can be viewed on TheTabernacleChoir.org, the Choir’s YouTube channel, the Choir’s Facebook page, and Broadcasts.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. When concerts are concluded, they are available for on-demand viewing on the Choir’s website, YouTube and Facebook.

These programs continue the tradition of noon organ recitals at Temple Square—a tradition that has lasted for more than a century. The concerts are produced without an audience and comply with all COVID-19 guidelines. Each concert will feature a different Tabernacle or Temple Square organist and is hosted by Luke Howard.

Repertoire

Organist: Brian Mathias

1. Toccata Brevis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Daniel F. Gawthrop
2. My Shepherd Will Supply My Need . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dale Wood
3. a. Come, Come, Ye Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
b. Londonderry Air . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
4. Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major ("St. Anne"). . . . . . . . . . .Johann Sebastian Bach

LISTENER REQUESTED SELECTION Go to the Piping Up! web page to make your request!

Focus Piece

An on-going feature of Piping Up! Organ Concerts at Temple Square is a focus piece with additional inspirational background on a specific repertoire selection. Written by host Luke Howard, a professor of music at Brigham Young University, the focus piece connects the music in a unique way to lift and inspire listeners.

Prelude and Fugue in E-flat major, BWV 522 (J. S. Bach)

J. S. Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E-flat Major, BWV 522, isn’t your typical baroque pairing of a keyboard prelude and fugue, of which Bach wrote so many. The prelude is actually an introduction to an organ mass, sometimes known as Bach’s “German Organ Mass,” which was published in a volume titled “Clavier-Übung III” (or Keyboard Exercise 3). After this initial organ prelude, a series of 21 chorale preludes corresponds to sections of the Lutheran catechism, followed by some keyboard exercises, and then a concluding fugue. So if one were to play the entire volume, there would be a lot of music between the opening prelude and the closing fugue in the same key.

But it’s likely Bach never intended for this volume to be played from beginning to end as a unified work. It’s more like a vast, diverse anthology from which an organist could pick and choose selections for use in a service. And yet there’s an underlying sophistication and complexity in this volume that holds it together as a single unit. Much of that deep intricacy is based on the number symbolism that Bach frequently employed in his music—here especially it’s the numbers 3 and 12, and the proportions represented by the golden ratio. Some of the Trinitarian symbolism in the music is obvious. The entire volume has 27 pieces in it, or three to the power of three. There are three flats in the key signature of E-flat major, three themes in the prelude, the fugue is a triple fugue with three distinct subjects. The first and last sections of the fugue both have 36 measures in them, or 3 x 12. The middle section has 45 measures, or 3 x (3+12). And all this is merely scratching the surface of the wonderful mathematical symmetry of this work.

Now, you might be wondering if Bach really intended all of these number relationships, especially since so many of them aren’t audible in the music itself.

But that’s exactly one of the reasons why I believe he did. Bach signed all of the manuscripts for his sacred music, and much of his secular music, with the initials “S.D.G.” meaning “Soli Deo Gloria” or “To God, alone, the glory.” He wrote his music not primarily to impress his audience, but as an offering to God, a gift in return for the divine gift he had been given. And if God alone understood and appreciated the exquisite intricacies Bach wove into his musical compositions, if they were lost on Bach’s congregation, then these pieces had already fulfilled their primary purpose.

Our daily work, our offering to God, might not reach the same level of artistic genius and breathtaking complexity as Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E-flat. But whatever our offering might be, it should be, like Bach’s, the very best we can do. If God alone appreciates it, then it’s worthwhile. And how wonderful if we could also inscribe on our hearts in the process, “Soli Deo Gloria,” “To God, alone, the glory.”