University of Hartford "H" Magazine - Winter 2019

University of Hartford

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Sunday Afternoon at the Opera - Eybler: Die Hirten bei der Krippe zu Bethlehem

12/22/2019 1:00 pm
12/22/2019 4:30 pm

 

Sunday Afternoon at the Opera host Keith Brown writes:

The time of the birth of Jesus draws nigh, and since it's "the reason for the season," a nativity oratorio would surely be in order. Joseph Leopold Eybler (1766-1846) was a student and close friend of Mozart's. He was even of physical assistance to the musical genius in his final illness as he worked on his Requiem. Mozart entrusted the task of completing the Requiem to Eybler, and Mozart's widow seconded her husband's dying request. Eybler felt inadequate to the task and turned down the offer.

But Eybler was a significant composer in his own right, witness his wonderful Christmas oratorio, Die Hirten bei ber Krippe zu Bethlehem ("The Shepherds at the Manger in Bethlehem," 1794). If you like Haydn's "Creation" you'll love Eybler's work. The score of the Christmas oratorio is to be found in the Austrian National Library. Conductor Wolfgang Helbich took it up, preparing it for modern performance with instrumental parts he had to compose himself for the missing ones in the closing choral number. Helbich leads the period instrument ensemble I Febrarmonici and the choir of Bremen Cathedral, the Alsfeld Vocal Ensemble and vocal soloists. The Eybler Christmas oratorio was recorded in 1999 for the German CPO label in coproduction with Radio Bremen. I last broadcast Die Hirten bei der Krippe on Sunday, December 20, 2009.

Christmas seasonal music will follow.