Wednesday, April 25, 2012: Thanks-giving at Easter
The Prague Te Deum: Thanks-giving at Easter
The Prague Philharmonic Choir (Pražský Filharmonický Sbor) offered listeners a very interesting concert as part of the recent Prague Easter Festival (Apr 3-24). The program presented four spiritual works, one each by a composer from a different era and in a different style. It concluded with Czech composer Petr Eben’s glorious Pražské Te Deum, which is not only appropriate at Easter time, but as a means of thanks-giving.
Mr Eben composed the 1989 work which features the full choir plus two trumpets, two trombones, and percussion – timpani and glockenspiel – in celebration, or perhaps even relief, upon the birth of Czech freedom. He said he created it from his own need to give thanks “for the events that we have waited for, for so many years,” and as “thanksgiving for the end of 40 years of submission.”
The piece joined rather more traditional spiritual works on the program by Mendelssohn (1809-1847) and Rheinberger (1839-1901). Following the intermission, the mood shifted clearly to 20th-century angst with the Polish Penderecki’s “modern” Stabat Mater and Agnus Dei, followed by Mr Eben’s Te Deum, which you can sample in the short video clip below.
Mr Eben (1929-2007) was a composer, teacher, and pianist who spent the last two years of World War II in Buchenwald. From 1957 to 1996 he toured Europe, the US, and Australia as a concert pianist, and from 1990 to 1992 was president of the Prague Spring Festival. He was awarded many prestigious international prizes, and was known for his steadfast religious faith in the times of political tyranny, and his belief in the triumph of God over life and death.
You can read more about Mr Eben in our Opus Osm article published Feb 8. Fortunately, it’s a name that is gaining more well-deserved recognition as time moves on. — oo
– Mary Matz
Photo Credits: Miroslav Setnička