Sunday, January 8, 2012

Countdown to Planyavsky at MIT (19 days)

The following is a humorous explanation by Peter Planyavsky of why he became a composer. (As you will see, he pokes fun both at himself and at the state of music in the Church at one time.)

"Before somebody else comes forward and makes it public, I would rather admit it myself: I ALSO COMPOSE.

"First, I had not planned it, but – I realized it very soon – I was literally forced to become active in that direction. Of course there were a few pieces out there that had been composed, but many of them were not very useful. To name just a few examples: some songs by Mozart and Hugo Wolf were indeed of acceptable quality and were actually usable as Responsorial Psalms; however, the texts were very questionable. Attempts to use drastically abridged scenes (without the scenery) from Wagner operas as Offertories failed, because somewhere in the middle the next Mass would begin.

"And as for solo organ music – ask yourself: will you torment yourself and the audience with such minor masters as Murschhauser or Reger? No, ultimately we must do everything ourselves.

"This train of thought was shared by many. (Not that they all composed for themselves! They gave me commissions. [...]) The train of thought was shared also by some publishers. (Not that they all composed for themselves either! But they printed compositions of mine.) [...] The reasonings of all these people were evidently found to be correct by all the other people who decided to perform my pieces. [...]"

(From the official website of Peter Planyavsky,, English translation by Leonardo Ciampa.)

And now, Planyavsky's most popular composition, the Toccata alla Rumba. The sheet music has sold many thousands of copies. (One wonders, however: would this be best used as a Responsorial Psalm or an Offertory?)

(performed by Ines Maidre, in concert at Altenberg Cathedral)