A symphony is a multi-movement form, usually tonal with the first movement in sonata allegro form. While originating as a suite of pieces for orchestra, as the tone palette of the organ grew, it migrated to a form for the newer romantic/symphonic organ. Though the very first organ symphony was written by German composer Wilhelm Valentin Volckmar in 1867, the genre is mainly associated with French romanticism. César Franck wrote what is considered to be the first French organ symphony in his Grand pièce symphonique, and the composers Charles-Marie Widor, who wrote ten organ symphonies, and his pupil Louis Vierne, who wrote six, continued to cultivate the genre. The Symphonie-Passion of Marcel Dupré is the reconstruction of an improvisation by Dupré that he made at Wanamaker’s in Philadelphia on 8 December 1921. While classical symphonies (and those written compositions) developed original material, it seems most improvised symphonies follow the pattern of Dupré in utilizing chants, chorales, or other themes known to the audience.
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
Salve Regina, also known as Hail Holy Queen, is one of four Marian chant antiphons sung at different seasons within the Christian liturgical calendar of the Roman Catholic Church. It is traditionally sung at compline in the time from the Saturday before Trinity Sunday until the Friday before the first Sunday of Advent. It is also the final prayer of the rosary. There are two typical chant versions referred to as the solemn tone (above) and the simple tone (below). The solemn chant is in the Dorian mode while the simple chant is in the Lydian mode.
Having served as the music of the Roman Catholic Church for hundreds of years, chant has been the subject of improvisations throughout many different stylistic periods and in many different forms.
Some popular chant themes include: