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Playing Johann Christian Leberecht Kittel

2018-01-09 - Playing and Pieces

Playing Johann Christian Leberecht Kittel
by Dr. Wolfram Syré

Johann Christian Leberecht Kittel was the latest pupil of Johann Sebastian Bach. He composed marvelous organ music. His pieces show a splendid technique of composition. His musical feeling is virtuos, monumental, and very sensitive.
His main work is "Der angehende praktische Organist" in three parts. This opus contents a lot of his organ music. It is not a scholl which teaches playing the organ. Kittel's instructions there tell about "Generalbaß", about harmonisation of Chorale tunes, about creating Chorale Preludes and free organ works. Additionally one will find there some interesting informations about J. S. Bach's way playing the organ.
Kittel opens the organ for a new upcoming style: the classicism. One will find in his music many ideas from J. S. Bach, e. g. melodies and harmonies. But also "der galante und empfindsame Stil" has room in his music.
Kittel' other major work, the "Sechzehn große Praeludien" (with major- and minor-Preludes for every key between C and G) is the most important collection of organ pieces between the Baroque and the Romantic period.
Kittel introduced beside the usual Choral Prelude a new size of the arrangement of a Chorale tune: the shorter Choral Intonation. He presents the Chorale Intonation and the Choral Harmonisation as an esthetic unit: The major subject is the Chorale itselv and the Chorale Intonation shows the way to it.
Kittel`s Chrale variations are very personal pieces with a highly lyric expression.
Kittel`s pupils Michael Gotthard Fischer and Johann Christian Heinrich Rinck developed his organ style.
The organ music of Kittel is excellent but also a kind of "Le Chant du Cygne" of the Bach-periode.
I can mention some highlights of his organ pieces:
- the virtuos d-Moll-Prelude
- the dramatic cis-Moll- and f-moll-Preludes
- the elegant E-Dur- and F-Dur-Prelude
- the monumental a-Moll-Prelude
- the sensitive and lyric Choral arrangement "So gehst du nun, mein Jesu, hin" with its wonderfull colorated melodies
The 6th Variation of "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden" is one of the most dramatic and monumental organ mouvements I ever played.


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