Franz Biebl

Ave Maria, for chorus

    Description by Wayne Reisig

    Even in a musical era often defined as "eclectic," Franz Biebl's 1964 Ave Maria is remarkable for its straightforward, largely diatonic tonality and its gentle warmth. The work largely reflects the nature of its creator. Although largely unknown to the general public, Biebl is well known among choral conductors and performers. A modest musician, he was drafted into the Austrian army towards the end of World War II, was captured, and interned stateside. His captors soon came to realize his talent and regard his kindly nature, allowing him to organize concerts while a POW. Biebl likewise had a high regard for his captors and the concept of "Democracy." After the war, the composer returned to his homeland to resume musical activities on an international level, particularly in the choral field. His wide-ranging exploration of all ethnic and national vocal idioms shows a universality of outlook. As of this writing, Biebl is still active as a composer and conductor.

    This lovely setting of the Hail Mary, Biebl's best known work in America, is firmly rooted in tonality yet sounds wonderfully fresh, largely through its unpretentious purity of expression. Beginning with the Angelus preface, the Ave Maria proper commences and is unified by an ascending five-note phrase, etherial and soaring as so many cathedral arches, yet intimate as a chapel. Its subtle modernism can be found in its use of unusual chord relations drawn from the popular idiom (e.g., flattened six chord), yet never straying long from the tonic. Effortlessly, Biebl weaves passages of plainsong into the overall musical fabric. Without any posturing, the composer draws all of these elements naturally together to produce a sensitive and beautiful miniature.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2017 Fanfare Cincinnati FC 012
    2017 Centaur Records CRC 3560
    2015 2L 2L 110
    2015 2L 2L 110SABD
    2014 Decca / London
    2014 Decca 4785703
    2013 BIS BIS 2053
    2012 Regent REGCD 343
    2012 Warner Classics 2564654860
    2011 Cantus Recordings / CD Baby 5637840109
    2011 Aliud Records 34
    2011 Regent REGCD 345
    2011 Chanticleer Records CR 88032004
    2011 Gothic Records G49095
    2011 Valparaiso University VMCD 1025
    2010 Chanticleer Records 2093
    2010 Longhorn Music 2009001
    2010 Cantate 58044
    2009 Griffin / Griffin 4052
    2009 Regent 292
    2008 Priory Records PRCD 5002
    2007 Gothic Records 49252
    2006 Gothic Records 49250
    2006 Cantus Recordings 5637240532
    2006 Gothic Records 49246
    2006 K&K Verlagsanstalt 99
    2006 Clarion 918
    2005 Cygnus 001
    2005 Priory Records 814
    2004 Cantus Recordings CTS 1204
    2003 Ncc 8154
    2003 The New York Catholic / Siena College 40418
    2002 Pro Organo 7145
    2001 Pro Organo 7079
    2001 Turtle Creek Chorale 1150
    2000 Teldec 21480
    2000 Brioso Recordings 124
    1999 Dorian DOR93191
    1998 Koch 7393
    1997 Ambassador Recording 1018
    1997 Telarc Distribution 80461
    1997 Priory Records 573
    1997 Koch Discover International 920487
    1996 Koch International / Koch International Classics 7362
    1996 Koch International Classics / Koch International KIC-7362
    1995 Richardson 70020
    1995 Turtle Creek Chorale 1020
    1995 Reference Recordings 67
    1992 BIS 533
    1992 Chanticleer Records 8803
    Mark Custom Recording 2747
    Measure for Measure
    Colonial Lane Music
    Musicmasters / Musicmasters 67077-2
    Gay Men's Chorus LA GMC1CD
    Jubilate
    American Boychoir 103
    Gothic Records 49063
    Mark Custom Recording 4324