Vierne's Harmonic Language


Tuesday, July 02, 2024
10:00 AM – 10:45 AM



While the organ music of Louis Vierne serves as a staple of our repertoire, an overwhelming majority do not possess an understanding of his harmonic material. Obviously, it is not the same tonal realm of Bach or his predecessors. Moreover, it is also not comparable to the sound world of Franck, Tournemire, or even Messiaen.

My research has provided fascinating insights based on the analysis of Vierne’s works from his 24 Pièces de Fantaisie and the Scherzo from his 6th Symphony. The presentation will focus on four selections: Cathédrales, Toccata, Fantômes, and the Scherzo. I will focus on the harmonic language of various sections of these selected pieces, rather than discuss a full analysis of each work. This presentation will highlight Vierne’s usage of the Modes of Limited Transposition (prior to Messiaen’s codification), in conjunction with the Gregorian Modes, and traditional harmony. This presentation will be of interest to both performers and enthusiasts of Vierne’s organ music.