Matthias Weckmann: the interpretation of his organ music

Abstract: The dissertation presents an interpretation of the complete organ works of Matthias Weckmann primarily for the performer and in the spirit of historically-informed performance practice. The process of creating this interpretation was documented in writings, recordings, concerts, and a new edition of the free organ works. The hypothesis of the project is that the North German Baroque organ art, specifically the music of Matthias Weckmann, represents optimal art, a product of a period of high cultural standards at least equal to that of our time, and is therefore worthy of study and performance. However traditional musicological study of the limited primary sources connected with Weckmann falls one step short being helpful for the performer. In order to produce an integrated approach that can actually benefit a performance, traditional musicology must be combined with an inductive analytical method. The performer must, as always, make the final personal performance decisions, but this inductive method of performance analysis does produce a rich and complex picture within which the performer can operate creatively and confidently. The dissertation is divided into four major sections. In the first, the main primary and secondary sources were thoroughly analyzed to reconstruct, as much as possible, the historical milieu and the life and personality that produced Weckmann's music. This section contains a short biography based on new research initiated for this project. The second section surveys the manuscripts and editions of Weckmann's music and contains a handwriting analysis and a proposal for a new approach to editorial policy which has been carried out in volume two: a new edition of the free organ works. The third section seeks to summarize the information about aspects of historically-informed interpretation which have themselves grown out of this inductive methods of analysis: applying the primary source information (about everything from registration to fingering) to experimentation with historical instruments. Weckmann's manuscripts are an especially rich source both for original registration indications as well as contemporaneous ornamentation practice. Finally, a complete analytical survey of the organ works is carried out, applying a method based on four principles from Rolf Damman's writings on the Baroque: The Cosmological Principle, The Rhetorical Principle, The Principle of Natural Philosophy and The Theological Principle. The analogical thought process of the time is explored in contemporaneous writings as well. A possible analogical parallel is drawn between Athanasius Kircher's Musurgia Universalis, which compares the six days of creation to the six registers of a great "Welt-Orgel", and the six verses of the monumental choral cycle, "O Lux beata Trinitas".

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