The Vesper was composed by Anton Heiller for the dedication of the Dome organ in Graz. Naturally, this offers the composer the opportunity to show as many facets of the new instrument as possible, especially in the interlude (between Responsory and Magnificat) and the postlude which he had also designated as autonomous pieces for performances. For the most part, the interlude is lyrical and serene; you notice Heiller’s characteristic harmony which is smooth and easy, despite the proximity to twelve-tone technique.

The ancestor of Heiller’s melodics is the Gregorian chant, although in this case – as seen in the works of Olivier Messiaen and Jehan Alain – modes with halftones and minor thirds are dominating. The rhythm is quite tranquil, only towards the end we find irregular beats. The piece ends harmonically open; at the Franz Schmidt Organ Competition, it should therefore be performed between the other two pieces.

Note: In Kitzbühel, the required reed 4’ in the pedal for bar 34 and 35 may be replaced by a labial voice; alternatively, the left-hand notes can be played with double pedal.

Peter Planyavsky

Beginning of the Interlude of Anton Heiller‘s Vesper – Autograph
Musiksammlung der Österreichischen Nationalbibliothek