Saturday, January 30, 2010

'Vater Unser'

Born: 1640 - Güstrow in Mecklenburg (North Germany)
Died: 1711 - Copenhagen, Denmark

Christian Geist was a German composer and organist resident in Scandinavia. He probably received his first musical education in Güstrow where his father, Joachim Geist, was the cantor at the cathedral.

After holding a musical position in the court of Duke Gustav Adolph of Mecklenburg, Christian Geist moved to Copenhagen early in 1670 where he, upon the recommendation of the Duke of Mecklenburg, joined the Danish Court Chapel as a bass player. But already by June, 1670, he resigned from this position to join the Swedish Court Chapel which was under the direction of Gustaf Düben (Düben made a celebrated collection of contemporary music, which is the most important source for Dietrich Buxtehude's music). Here he stayed until 1679 and composed many church cantatas which are now part of the Düben Collection of Manuscripts at the University Library at Uppsala. Virtually all his extant compositions date from the time of this employment.

Later he appears to have returned again to Denmark. On marriage to the widow of the previous occupant, he took up the position of organist at several churches and cathedrals in Copenhagen. A document from 1686 gives evidence of his service as the organist at the Trinity and Holy Spirit Church in Copenhagen. However, after several years he gave up this position, but nevertheless remained in Copenhagen until the time of his death. In 1689 he was the organist at the Holmens Church, where he was a successor to the famous organist at the St Nicholas Church, Johann Lorentz. In 1711 he and his third wife and children died of the plague in Copenhagen.

Johann Mattheson reports that Christian Geist was among the applicants for the position of Kantor of all Hamburg Churches which had become available after the death of Thomas Selle. Among the candidates applying for this position was Christoph Bernhard, who was chosen by the Weckmann Collegium Musicum based upon the preferred style that he exhibited in his church cantatas, but they also praised Christian Geist for his “delicate style in which one could detect the influence of Italian music.” Geist is one of the most significant German composers who lived and was active in Scandinavia in the 2nd half of the 17th century Only three organ preludes and two secular cantatas have survived. All the remaining compositions are church cantatas in German and Latin. Among the latter, the texts are primarily quotations from the Bible.

Christian Geist's works as in Es war aber an der Stätte Geist sets St John's retelling of Christ's burial and follows it by eight strophic verses commenting on the gospel; the pulsating quavers in the viols' introduction are a typical German figuration to portray the effect of lamento. De funere ad vitam uses a virtuoso obbligato violin which comments vigorously on the text. His sacred concertos were written for small ensembles of voices and strings. They date from the 1670's and a number were inspired by the accession in 1672 of King Karl XI - for whose coronation service a number were written. He also wrote music for the New Year’s Day celebrations, though the impetus to write the Dixit Dominus, Domine qui das salutem I and Domine qui das salutem III remains obscure. Clearly he had a firm grounding in counterpoint, a product of his rigorous early training, and even more obviously Geist was greatly influenced by the prevailing musical wind of change blowing from Italy. [source: Teddy Kaufman and Thomas Braatz http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Lib/Geist-Christian.htm]

Vater unser, der Du bist im Himmel. Geheiliget werde Dein Name. Dein Reich komme. Dein Wille geschehe, wie im Himmel, also auch auf Erden. Unser täglich Brot gieb uns heute. Und vergieb uns unsere Schuld, als wir vergieben unsern Schuldigern. Und führe uns nicht in Versuchung; Sondern erlöse uns von dem Übel. Denn Dein ist das Reich und die Kraft und die Herrlichkeit in Ewigkeit. Amen.
Das Vaterunser, Paternoster - Kirchenbuch 1908

Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
The Lord’s Prayer, Paternoster - King James

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