Friday, December 23, 2016

A Hail Mary Classical Music Weekend

repeat post with additions

Hail Mary 

This Tales classical music weekend will be a special edition as it is the weekend of Christmas, celebrated by Christians around the world.  When I thought of what classical music would be appropriate for this weekend, one of my favorite pieces Ave Maria, immediately came to mind.  I knew this song had religious significance and was about Mary, the mother of Jesus, but not being a Christian I had to do research to find out exactly where the Ave Maria song originated.   

I found out that Ave Maria actually means "Hail Mary" and it is a traditional Catholic prayer asking for the "intercession of Jesus mother Mary".  Some Protestant denominations also make use of some form of the "Hail Mary" prayer.

Many of the Baroque and classical composers were very religious [like J.S. Bach] and their faith played an important part in their compositions.  Because of that there are many versions of the prayer Ave Maria that have been set to music by the masters.

I believe the two most popular versions of Ave Maria are: 1. the version by the French composer Charles Gounod, who added words and a dominant melody to the quintessential Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach's first prelude from his set of keyboard pieces called  the "Well Tempered Clavier" [that you can hear in the background].  That is why this version is called the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria; and 2. the more well known and beloved version of Ave Maria by the classical composer Franz Schubert.

Franz Schubert's version is probably played more than any other and this version is my favorite. The moving Schubert version of Ave Maria is one of the most beautiful songs ever composed, in my opinion.   

Update: Thanks to @bedfordguy and @JayNordlinger for informing me of another very moving-beautiful version of Ave Maria from Franz Biebl, a 20th century German composer of mostly choral ensemble compositions. 

Please turn up the volume and enjoy these versions of the moving Hail Mary or "Ave Maria".  First the Bach/Gounod version that is sung by Soprano Anna Moffo;  then Franz Schubert's Ave Maria sung by American Soprano Barbara Bonney; Schubert's Ave Maria played on solo violin by the great violinist extraordinaire, Joshua Bell; and finally Franz Biebl's "Ave Maria" sung by Schola Cantorum at St. Matthew's Cathedral.

Bach/Gounod: Ave Maria:



Franz Schubert: Ave Maria:


Franz Schubert: Ave Maria [with violinist Joshua Bell]:



Franz Biebl: Ave Maria:


On this Tales' Christmas weekend special edition I wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all! 

5 comments:

Steve the Balladeer said...

Excellent job, Michael, especially on the background research! And I agree w/ you about the Schubert piece--it is glorious!! I'll send you some more that I particularly enjoy. :-))

Big Mike said...

Thanks Balladeer!!

Bedfordguy said...

Big Mike, I just ran across a version by Franz Bible this weekend. Never heard it before. Had one play it over and over I liked it so much. Give it a try. I think you will like it.

Anonymous said...

Biebl, not bible

Big Mike said...

Thanks Harry I will check it out.