ESTERDAY AFTERNOON, my friend in Paris sent me a scanned copy of a rare book. It’s an organ accompaniment for the KYRIALE (Ordinary of the Mass) composed by Monsignor Franz Nekes (d. 1914), a professor at the Gregoriushaus in Aachen. Nekes was a famous church musician whom some considered “the German Palestrina.” The book appears to be a compilation, containing accompaniments for the ORDINARIUM MISSAE dated 1906 as well as Editio Vaticana items that appeared later, such as Toni Communes (“Liber Tonarius”). While the compilation is dated 1912, the chief section comes from 1906. Examine the index, or download the entire book as a PDF file:
* PDF • Monsignor Nekes “KYRIALE” Organ Accompaniment (175 pages)
—Ordinarium Missæ; Missa pro defunctis; Toni Communes Missæ; Veni Creator; Pange Lingua.
Ghastly Yet Valuable • The accompaniments by Monsignor Nekes reflect his background. Like his contemporaries—such as Wagner, Springer, and Mathias—he treats plainsong like Mozart. I personally consider them ghastly! Nevertheless, they are of great historical interest. Moreover, they show us yet another example of an author who took seriously the official rhythm. And there’s no shortage of Trochee Trouble, as you can see:
Professor Weaver • As part of the Gregorian Rhythm Wars series, my colleague Professor Weaver made several statements vis-à-vis whether there is an “official rhythm” for the Editio Vaticana. For those who live in the United States, this is quite a busy time of year. I have no desire to “re-hash” everything I wrote in my recent article. Nevertheless, I welcome an opportunity to make a few brief utterances in light of what Professor Weaver wrote.
Reminder To All • My discussion of documents should not be interpreted as an attack on anyone’s performance practice. To put it another way: Making people aware of documents of the Church and discussing those documents is something that nobody ought to feel threatened by. I’m sure my colleagues agree, but it’s good to remind our readership.
“Inseparable From The Edition Itself” • Professor Weaver wrote: “In this post, I will argue that Ostrowski’s arguments for both claims are fallacious.” It may seem insignificant, but I would like to underscore that I don’t consider these claims as mine. For instance, the letter from the Prefect for the Congregation of Sacred Rites dated 18 February 1910 speaks (explicitly) on behalf of “the mind of the Holy Father and of the Sacred Congregation of Rites.” That letter specifically says “the rhythmical form of the melodies […] is inseparable from the edition itself.”
“Misunderstanding” Not Trick • My colleague wrote: “Ostrowski suggests that Mocquereau may have tricked Pius X into allowing the rhythmic signs by implying that he would follow the official rhythm.” I do not believe my assertion was that Dom Mocquereau tricked the pope into doing anything. The fact is, Papal audiences are almost always extremely rushed. If memory serves, Pope Pius X was not fluent in French. Moreover, the Graduale Romanum would not be published for another four (!) years. As I made clear in my previous article, many of Dom Mocquereau’s rhythmic signs are harmless—intended only to help the singers follow the conductor—whereas others have the capability to contradict the rhythm. I find it difficult to believe that Pope Pius X intended to give ‘perpetual permission’ to contradict the rhythm of virtually every melody in the Editio Vaticana. Moreover, documentation shows that Dom Mocquereau had not (yet) decided upon such a plan. This was 23 March 1904, whereas the Graduale would not appear until 1908 and the Antiphonale would not appear until 1912.
Valuable Document • I wish to thank Professor Weaver for locating a copy of a rare and valuable document (Le décret du 14 février 1906 de la S. Congrégation des Rites et les signes rythmiques des bénédictins de Solesmes) written by Dom Mocquereau. On the other hand, Professor Weaver writes: “It is true that Mocquereau incorporated the rhythmic signs of his earlier books into the Vatican Edition…” That’s not exactly true. For instance, consider the example we’ve been talking about so much on this blog: viz. the INTROIT for the 22nd Sunday after Pentecost. Notice how Dom Mocquereau added a whole slew of episemata contradicting the official rhythm. What changed between 1903 and 1908? To my knowledge, MOC’S FANTASTIC FOUR had been published for decades by 1904. Was it appropriate for Katharine Ellis to cite evidence showing Prior André Mocquereau may have “put as many rhythmic signs as possible in the Graduale and in the Antiphonale” due to financial incentives? I am not saying this was the case, but it’s hard to explain why it suddenly became so important for Mocquereau to contradict the official rhythm in a way he had not done in 1903. Could this be a manifestation of the “intransigency” which even Father Angelo de Santi condemned? 1
Quashing Prefaces! • I know this risks putting readers to sleep, but let’s briefly discuss the PREFACE to the Vatican Edition. Obviously, Abbat Pothier wrote parts of it—because large sections were lifted verbatim from the 1880s publications. Father Robert Skeris told me in 2003 that Dr. Peter Wagner “wrote the preface to the Editio Vaticana,” but I believe he was referencing only the ‘controversial’ sections, such as this one. On 28 October 1905, Julius Bas wrote to Dom Mocquereau: “Father de Santi has instructed me to tell you that the author of the famous Preface of the Graduale is the very learned Doctor Wagner.” Something is odd about that date—28 October 1905—since the Liber Gradualis would not appear until 1908. Did Dom Combe make a mistake? Not necessarily, because the PREFACE was intended to appear along with the 1905 Kyriale, but it was quashed at the last second as it was deemed too controversial. At least this is how I understand the sequence of events. You can see how it’s described by Dom Combe. (Notice his claim that Abbat Pothier’s Antiphonale preface was also quashed … that clearly wasn’t a good decade for preface writers!)
“Not Binding” • My colleague wrote: “Apart from the feelings of Cardinal Martinelli, the rhythmic rules of the Vatican Edition preface were not considered binding by its own author within two years of the publication of the Vatican Edition Graduale.” I don’t think such an assertion can be maintained. First of all, when Dr. Wagner taught the Editio Vaticana at his Gregorian Academy in Freiburg (Switzerland), he did not teach his theories about mensuralism to his students: Joseph Gogniat, Charles Dreisoerner, Karl Weinmann, K.G. Fellerer, and so forth. Moreover, if you examine Dr. Wagner’s organ accompaniments to the Antiphonale (circa 1913?), he does not apply mensuralism. In other words, Dr. Wagner divorced scientific research from ‘practical’ church music.
A Puzzling Statement • I don’t see how Professor Weaver can claim there’s “no such thing” as the official rhythm—in light of so many publications by Dessain, Pustet, August Wiltberger, Father Mathias, Father Nekes, Max Springer, Father Weinmann, and so forth—and I will be interested to hear more! Furthermore, he did not respond to the question I asked: What is so terrible about the official edition? Does it not make sense to sing an edition as it was intended? My singers have found it gloriously refreshing and eminently natural.
1 On Dom Mocquereau’s “intransigency,” please see The Restoration of Gregorian Chant: Solesmes and the Vatican Edition by Dom Pierre Combe, page 339. Father de Santi uses the same word (“intrasigent”) that Abbat Pothier had used in a letter he wrote Dom Mocquereau on 25 June 1905.