Tuesday, 24 December 2013

The Premiere of Silent Night

Well, the salon is all trimmed up for Christmas and we're looking forward to the big day. One thing you can be sure of is that grandmother Gilflurt will take to the piano and demand everyone join a singsong. One of grandfather's favourite songs of the season is Silent Night and it is in his honour that I decided to pay a visit to Austria to witness the first performance of this Christmas favourite.


The Silent Night Chapel
The Silent Night Chapel

On Christmas Eve 1818, Father Joseph Mohr, a young priest at the St Nicholas parish church in Oberndorf bei Salzburg, paid a visit to Franz Xaver Gruber, an organist from the village of Arnsdorf, to show him a poem he had written entitled, Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. Mohr believed his work might be the basis of a  had written the lyrics to a celebratory song entitled and asked Gruber if he could compose music to accompany the words. 


Gruber was happy to oblige and composed a score for both piano and guitar, with the men working together to perfect the carol in preparation for its debut that night at the church in Oberndorf. The church organ was awaiting repairs so the carol was to be performed to a guitar accompaniment, with Gruber on strumming duties on the night.


By candlelight, tenor Mohr and bass Gruber performed Silent Night for the first time at the evening mass. We shall certainly be singing it here on Gin Lane, though it might not sound quite so sweet with grandmother's gin-fuelled fingers on the keys!

10 comments:

Julian Rixon said...

That's interesting. It's one of those carols that just exists on the extremity of my radar - although I have to sing and play it countless times every Christmas. I'm surprised that the original scoring was for piano and guitar in 1818 - in Austria! It must have been very atmospheric at its debut...

Madame Gilflurt said...

On ukulele, no less!

The Greenockian said...

Lovely carol - one of my favourites. Happy Christmas to you and yours.
Liz

Madame Gilflurt said...

And to you!

Sassy Countess said...

So wonderful on the eve of Christmas! Wonderful!!!!! Merry Christmas to you!

Madame Gilflurt said...

Merry Christmas, sassy lady!

Lindsay said...

I love the song but I've never heard it preformed correctly, with only a guitar providing the musical accompaniment.

Catherine Curzon said...

It's quite a different experience, very pastoral!

nirak88 said...

What a great story with a warm feeling of brotherly love. We sang "Silent Night" at a candle light service this Christmas eve. Merry Christmas to you Catherine!

Catherine Curzon said...

And to you!