Max Filke (1855–1911) i jego warsztat kompozytorski na przykładzie preludiów organowych ze zbioru Eduarda Stehlego
Max Filke (1855–1911) and his compositional workshop on the example of organ preludes from the collection of Eduard Stehle
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Looking at the tradition and heritage of the Silesian land, it can be concluded that over the centuries it has become a culturally distinct European borderland formed by the influence of three mutually interpenetrating cultures: Polish, Czech and German, as well as different religions: Catholic and Protestant. All these factors have made the map of Silesia a peculiar mosaic of multicultural colors, thanks to which this area was marked by the unusually rich legacy of centuries-old activities of distinguished figures for whom the mentioned diversity was a source of creative inspiration. The nineteenth century became an extremely interesting historical moment. Europe was overwhelmed by the spreading romantic current, filled with strong emotionality, and new currents coming from various directions. Various musical styles, forms and genres began to develop and transform. At the same time, however, this century was dominated by one more rapidly developing trend, which was the then Cecilian movement, postulating the renewal of church music and a return to the roots by modeling on Gregorian chorale and Palestrina's polyphony. It should be noted that it was the Silesia where the Cecilian ideas were widely disseminated and implemented in the common composing practice. Max Filke (1855–1911), a composer, musician, conductor, bandmaster and teacher, lived and carried out his extensive activities between these two poles. He was born in Ściborzyce Małe near Głubczyce in the Opole region, where he took his initial steps in the field of music under the supervision of native authorities, and his first teacher was Moritz Brosig (1815-1887) - a titled organist of the Wrocław cathedral with outstanding composing skills. He studied in Regensburg - a city that is a center of Cecilianism, drawing on local church music patterns, and then practicing in various German environments as a conductor of choirs and instrumental ensembles. In the end, however, he returned to the Silesian land, due to the job of the bandmaster of the Wrocław cathedral, and he remained there for the rest of his life. Looking through the rich opus vite of Filke, one can find confirmation of the mentioned bipolar reality. His work includes compositions referring to Palestrina's exemplary style, which is evident not only in the chamber cast, but also in the manner in which the voices are conducted and the exposed vision of Renaissance harmony is built. This style, however, is intertwined with songs externalizing a completely different, more monumental sound mass, characterizing typical romantic sound. Thus, Filke's compositions show a gradual evolution of his style. He began his creative work as a faithful follower of Cecilianists, but as soon as he took the Wrocław position, he began to combine existing patterns with local tradition. The influences of the New German school and the achievements of the most outstanding artists of the Romantic era were also certainly indifferent. It should be emphasized, however, that the composer's overall activity was undoubtedly guided by the overriding purpose of liturgical service to God. The era of Romanticism and the reforms of church music resulting from it contributed to the increased interest in organ composing, after relatively little interest in this instrument in the second half of the 18th century. Both concertos and virtuoso compositions were created, as well as utilitarian compositions closely related to liturgy and the then popular practice of "preluding" during services. It should also be noted that Silesia was a special area in the field of organ building development. It was in these areas that multi-generational organ companies were active, which built numerous opuses of high-quality instruments, taking into account the latest trends and tendencies arising in pan-European organ craftsmanship. The nineteenth century, in turn, contributed to the development of organ factories that built instruments on a larger scale. Thanks to this, many smaller parishes gained organs at that time, which in turn contributed to more effective propagation of church singing and music in Silesia. In turn, equipping the temples with noble instrumentation generated a demand for valuable music, properly fitting into liturgical celebrations, as well as performed at the appropriate level. Although in Silesia there were two different religious denominations next to each other: Catholicism and Protestantism, in both cases organs and organ music played an important role in celebrating rituals. Wrocław was the leading Silesian center for organ music. Outstanding organists, virtuosos, composers and pedagogues gathered around individual churches and the Institute of Church Music of the University of Wrocław. In the nineteenth century, organ music was an extremely important element of Silesian music culture, becoming at the same time one of the determinants of its wealth. In 1892, a collection under the editorship of Santgallen bandmaster Eduard Stehle entitled Praeludia organi ad singulas partes cantus gregoriani quem Graduale Romanum authenticum exhibit was printed. It contains compositions of 30 authors, including the name of Filke. The publication contains organ preludes composed on the basis of Gregorian processional chants of the Holy Mass, such as: Introit, Offertorium i Communio, for Sunday and holiday days of the liturgical year. Max Filke's preludes included in the collection are in the form of short organ miniatures, each of which can fit a maximum of one printed page. Such requirements set them a liturgical purpose, to which the composer fully surrounded, while making every effort to create sound constructions. For this purpose, he does not use melodic material faithful to Gregorian chant, which would consist of more or less developed harmonization of cantus firmus, thanks to which the prelude becomes a peculiar composition, inspired by a specific liturgical form and mass antiphon text, with a motivational reference to the Gregorian melody. It should be noted that, although Filke points to a specific Gregorian modus in each of the songs, he does not use pure modality, which was a common practice during this period. His works, however, are characterized by modal cadences, or rather more precisely - they refer to modal cadences. The composer uses harmony efficiently, successfully uses imitative, figurative and polyphonic techniques, as well as motivational correspondence between voices. The structural-tonal basis, dictated by a close relationship with a specific composition, having its source in the Gregorian chant, affects the expression and emotional side of the song, and also builds its symbolism, as Gregorian singing and the content it brings are rooted in centuries-old history and Church heritage. Although the presented preludes are only small instrumental miniatures, they fulfill an extremely important liturgical space. The practice of "preluding" was once an integral part of the liturgy celebrated in Latin, which was a common phenomenon. So the composers wrote numerous songs referring to individual parts of the Mass. Organ music thus entwined almost the entire liturgy, acting as an important and inseparable element of liturgical celebrations. And in this context, one could treat Max Filke's preludes, even in modern times. This music, inspired by the first and most important singing of the church, and at the same time by its spirituality and deeply rooted tradition, fully with its character fits into the frames of sacred rites, being able to successfully reach the hearts of the faithful and accompany them in prayer meditations.
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