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“Return to Luçon” is a film-travelling to the French origins of the birth of Russian organ music.
Almost all of pipe organs in Russia were destroyed in the 20-30s of XX century. Nevertheless, a very large number of pieces for the organ were created in Soviet Russia. This is a paradoxical situation. The birth of a large number of organ pieces was mostly facilitated by the activities of a professor and an organist Isaiah Braudo, who interacted with Soviet composers.
And what is happening now in the 21st century? What is the continuation and development of native composer’s thought in the field of Organ? And … what are the origins of Russian organ music? Our film answers these questions.
Choral tradition that corresponds to the Orthodox ritual was the main one in tsarist Russia. The pipe organ was, first of all, an attribute of Lutheran and Catholic churches. And, by that time, the organ had not yet mastered the concert halls. A professor of the St. Petersburg Conservatory and an organist Jacques Gandshin noted in one of his articles in 1916: « The ignorance of Russian musicians regarding the organ until recently reached a considerable size. » And, nevertheless, the approach of native composers to the richest possibilities of the organ was developing. In the beginning were Glinka, Odoevsky, Serov. Mikhail Glinka wrote that their small polyphonic pieces were marked by a desire to combine the Western fugue with the peculiarities of Russian music. Further prominent Russian composers, such as Rubinstein, Tchaikovsky, Rimsky-Korsakov, Scriabin, Glazunov, Grechaninov, began occasionally introducing the organ into their cantata-oratorio, orchestral, musical-theatrical, choral works.
At the turn of the XIX – XX centuries, the first solo compositions for the organ of such composers as Glazunov, Lyapunov, Vitol, Kryzhanovsky, Karatygin, Nikolaev, Taneev, Cui, Glier, Katuar, Gunst appeared. These composers created the “golden fund” of Russian organ music. This happened thanks to the initiative of the French abbot and organist Joseph Joubert from Luçon and with help of a Professor Jacques Gandschin.
Joseph Joubert, the abbot of the Luçon cathedral, published an international collection, the eight-volume anthology, « Modern Masters of the Organ » in 1912-1914 in France. Jacques Gandshin helped Abbot Joseph Joubert to contact Russian composers and to get organ pieces from them. Jacques Gandshin was fascinated by the idea that a group of Russian authors will perform in an international organ collection for the first time in the history.
So, at the beginning of the 20th century, Joseph Joubert, the titular organist of the Luçon Cathedral, gave an impulse to Russian composer’s thought to express itself in the voice of the Organ.
In 2018 a successor of Joseph Joubert, an abbot and an organist Abel Gaborit, wrote that perhaps a three-volume anthology “Three Centuries of Organ Music of Northern Palmyra,” which reflects the stylistic features of each epoch from the 19th to the 21st centuries, is the result of the impulse given by Father Joubert! This anthology released between 2014 and 2020, and it was compiled by a St. Petersburg organist, a professor Vladimir Shlyapnikov and an organist, a professor Nina Oksentyan.
In 1996, Abel Gaborit gave a concert at the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella on the centenary of the birth of Professor Isaiah Braudo.
In 2018, Vladimir Shlyapnikov gave a concert in the Luçon cathedral with music of Russian composers.
In 2020, the current titular organist of the Luçon Cathedral and the successor of Abel Gaborit Guillaume Marionneau gave a concert in the St. Petersburg State Academic Capella.
My film will introduce a viewer with little-known, but significant facts and events that related to activities of Joseph Joubert and to his successors, titular organists of the Luçon Cathedral. We will present the big Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Luçon Cathedral, and we will tell about the organ culture of St. Petersburg in the composer aspect. Rare archival materials will be published in the film for the first time.
… So, in a broader meaning, I can say that the film “Return to Luçon” is also a story about the great power of communication, about eternal energy of heavenly order that makes us (we are carriers of traditions of different countries and centuries) brothers in a single field of spiritual culture.