Today, December 8th is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the day when Mary is honored "in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin."
Georg Martin Adolf von Henselt (12 May 1814 – 10 October 1889) was a German composer and virtuoso pianist.
Born in the town of Schwabach, in Bavaria. At the age of three he began to learn the violin, and at five the piano under Josepha von Fladt. With financial help from King Ludwig I of Bavaria, he studied under Johann Nepomuk Hummel in Weimar for some months. In 1832, he went to Vienna, where, besides studying composition under Simon Sechter (the later teacher of Anton Bruckner), he was successful as a concert pianist. paws."
Despite his relatively long life, Henselt ceased nearly all composition by the age of 30. The reasons are unclear. Chronic stage fright, bordering on paranoia, caused him to withdraw from concert appearances by age 33.
"Ave Maria" is part of the "12 Études de salon, Op.5," and dates from around the year 1838. It is the fourth work in the collection.
The "étude" aspect of this work is in the unbroken legato of the flowing 6ths and 3rds in the left hand. The melody is simple, sounding something like a cross between the bells of the Angelus and a German folksong. The added difficulty of a fair number of double-sharps makes for tricky reading... ;-)
Played on the organ, the added difficulty of managing the expression pedals while playing a moving pedal part with one foot is another aspect of an étude.
The fine transcription is the work of the great A. Herbert Brewer (1865-1928), one of the leading organists of his day, and organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1896 until his death.
The score is attached below, as well as photos of Adolf Henselt, Herbert Brewer and of Gloucester Cathedral.
MORE Advent music to come! :-)