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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 5, 2003

Organist Disselhorst Will Play Music From Three Centuries Sept. 19

Delbert Disselhorst will perform organ works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries on a University of Iowa faculty recital at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. (Click on photo for high resolution.)

Disselhorst's recital will be free and open to the public.

The first portion of the program will comprise a series of works by J.S. Bach, all taken from Book III of the "Clavier-Uebung" (keyboard practice). After intermission, Disselhorst will complete the program with "Annum per annum" (year after year), a 1980 composition by Estonian composer Arvo Part, and the Grande Piece Symphonique, op.17 (great symphonic piece) by the 19th-century French composer Cesar Franck.

One of Bach's many encyclopedic projects, the "Clavier-Uebung" consists of four books. While parts I, II and IV are devoted to the harpsichord, Part III is devoted to sacred works for the organ. The third volume was published in 1739, a year that marked major anniversaries for the Lutheran Church.

The volume opens with a Prelude in E-flat and ends with a Fugue in the same key. Between them, Bach placed music for the Lutheran Mass as well as large and small settings of Luther's hymns for the six major parts of the Catechism. Bach uses musical symbolism to recall Luther's emphasis on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. For example, the opening and closing pieces are in E-flat, which has three flats, and each has three principal themes.

In addition to the opening Prelude and closing Fugue, Disselhorst will play Bach's three settings of the Lutheran Gloria "Allein Gott in der Hoch sei Ehr" (All Glory be to God on high). Making use of more musical symbolism, the three settings are in the keys of F, G, and A -- the first three notes of the chorale -- and all three settings are in three voices.

Estonian Arvo Part grew up in the old Soviet empire, and in his earlier works he followed Soviet musical models. Later he tried other styles, including serialism and collage techniques. In the late 1960s he stopped composing for several years while he searched for a new musical language.

After a silence of seven years, Part emerged with a new style of music. Influenced in part by the music of the Eastern Orthodox church, the new style was characterized by "tintinnabuli," a term that refers to the combination of bell-like sonorities with chant-like melodies and simple, consonant harmonies. The works composed in this unique style have found a broader audience, and in recent years Part's music has been widely performed and recorded.

"Annum per Annum" was commissioned in 1980 for the 900th anniversary of the Cathedral in Speyer, Germany. The piece consists of five sections, plus an introduction and a coda. Each of the five sections has one of the letters K-G-C-S-A, which stand for the five sections of the ordinary of the Mass (Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Agnus Dei). They symbolize the mass, which "year after year" and day after day has been celebrated for nine centuries at the cathedral.

The art of organ playing and composition flourished in France in the 17th and early 18th centuries. In the 19th century, the great French organ builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll created instruments of high quality in turn gave impetus to a new chapter in organ playing and organ composition. From the mid-19th century on there were a series outstanding composers in France, including Cesar Franck, who exploited the extensive tonal resources of the monumental French instruments and at the same time set new standards in virtuosic performance.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. He holds both bachelors and masters degrees in music from the University of Illinois, where he graduated as a Bronze Tablet Scholar. As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in organ, he also studied at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. He has recorded the Organ Books of Ned Rorem and "Prophesies" by Daniel Pinkham on the Arkay Label.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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