Organ Continuo Practice in Viennese Concerted Sacred Music

Tom Mueller

Tuesday, June 21, 8:30 AM

Historical e­vidence shows that full-size church organs were used in the performance of concerted sacred music throughout German-speaking regions during the classical era. Contemporary treatises contain detailed information on the practice of organ continuo realization, and historical instruments preserve sounds that would have been heard in the performance of these works.

Despite historical evidence, most modern performances and recordings of this repertoire use small positive organs. Furthermore, the continuo realizations published in modern performance editions rarely reflect authentic historical practice.

This presentation will focus on the issues that apply to the use of large church organs in the performance of this repertoire. These include: the use of the pedals and the use of multiple manuals; registration practice; touch and articulation; chord voicing, density, and register; and problems of transposition and temperament. A sample continuo realization and audio recording from my own historically informed performance of Joseph Haydn's Theresienmesse will be used to demonstrate a practical application of these concepts.

Tom Mueller is Assistant Professor of Church Music and University Organist at Concordia University in Irvine, California, where he teaches organ, jazz, and composition. In 2014, Mueller won first place in the Schoenstein Competition in Hymn-Playing, held in conjunction with the national convention of the American Guild of Organists in Boston, Massachusetts. Mueller earned the DMA degree at the Eastman School of Music as a student of David Higgs. He also holds degrees from the University of Notre Dame (organ), and the University of Maine at Augusta (jazz composition). His former teachers include Craig Cramer and Alan Wingard.