I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas this Sunday, December 25, 2022.
As we celebrate Christmas, this will be a special classical music edition. When I thought of what classical music would be appropriate for this weekend, one of my favorite pieces, Ave Maria, immediately came to mind.
I have found out that Ave Maria actually means “Hail Mary” and it is a traditional Catholic prayer asking for the “intercession of Jesus mother Mary”. Some Protestant denominations also make use of some form of the “Hail Mary” prayer.
Many of the classical music composers were very religious [like J.S. Bach] and their faith played an important part in their compositions. Because of that there are many versions of the prayer Ave Maria that have been set to music by the masters.
I believe three of the most popular versions of Ave Maria are: 1. the version by the French composer Charles Gounod, who added words and a dominant melody to the quintessential Baroque composer Johann Sebastian Bach‘s first prelude from his set of keyboard pieces called the “Well Tempered Clavier” [that you can hear in the background]. That is why this version is called the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria;
2. also, there is the well known and beloved version of Ave Maria composed by the classical composer Franz Schubert. The warm and moving Schubert version of Ave Maria is one of the most beautiful songs ever composed, in my opinion; and
3. another very moving-beautiful version of Ave Maria comes from the 20th Century German composer of mostly choral ensemble compositions, Franz Biebl.
Please turn up the volume and enjoy these three versions of the moving Hail Mary or “Ave Maria”. First the Bach/Gounod version that is sung by Soprano Anna Moffo; then Franz Schubert’s Ave Maria sung by American Soprano Barbara Bonney; and finally a very moving version of Franz Biebl’s “Ave Maria” sung by Chanticleer.
Bach/Gounod: Ave Maria:
Franz Schubert: Ave Maria:
Franz Biebl: Ave Maria: