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February 3, 2021 | #91 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: Andrew Unsworth

1. Sun Dance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bob Chilcott
2. a. Prelude on "Hyfrydol" . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ralph Vaughan Williams
b. Méditation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maurice Duruflé
3. a. Come, Come, Ye Saints . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
    b. An Old Melody: Down by the Salley Gardens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . arr. by organist
4. Final, from Symphony no. 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Louis Vierne

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.

“Final” from Organ Symphony No. 1 (Vierne)

Louis Vierne was one of the most influential composer-organists in France during the first few decades of the 20th century. A student of Charles-Marie Widor and César Franck, Vierne in turn became a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire and the Schola Cantorum. His students included Lili and Nadia Boulanger, Marcel Dupré, and (closer to home here on Temple Square) Alexander Schreiner. Vierne served as organist at Notre Dame Cathedral from 1900 until his death in 1937.

Vierne’s public career was, by anyone’s reckoning, very successful. But he endured a fairly constant series of largely private challenges, tragedies, and setbacks that would have completely demoralized many others.

Vierne was born nearly blind. When he was six, he underwent an operation on his eyes that gave him some sight, but not enough to read small print or music, so he learned Braille as well. He studied organ with another blind organist, Adolphe Marty. In 1906, a street accident left Vierne with a shattered ankle. After thinking for a time he might lose his leg altogether, it took him six months to recover and relearn his pedal technique. A year later, he contracted typhoid fever, which nearly killed him. Two years after that, in 1909, he and his wife divorced. His eyesight worsened, and he spent four years in Switzerland recuperating from a treatment for glaucoma. These were the war years, during which he lost both his beloved younger brother, who was killed in action in the Marne, and his own son, who committed suicide while serving in the French military.1 Vierne suffered from bouts of neuritis, temporarily preventing the use his right arm. Heart problems and pneumonia weakened him even further, until he advised his assistants to start looking for a replacement organist even before his death, at the organ console of Notre Dame Cathedral, in 1937.

It’s quite a distressing tale, actually. I’m not sure if Louis Vierne was, as St. Paul advised, fully able to “glory” in his tribulations. But I believe he didn’t let those trials turn him bitter or resentful. Vierne’s students unfailingly described him as kind, patient, and encouraging. This is exactly what Paul taught in his letter to the Romans: “tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope.”2 Vierne’s life strikingly exemplifies the faith-driven transformation from struggle to hope that we all have to negotiate at times.

Andrew Unsworth closes today’s program now with the brilliant concluding “Final” from Louis Vierne’s Organ Symphony No. 1.

  1. Official military records list Jacques Vierne’s death as a suicide. Other records suggest he may have been shot as a deserter. In any case, his death was terribly distressing to his immediate family.
  2. See Romans 5:3-4.