From Heavenly Harmony
Resting in Love's Quiet Watch
Josef Rheinberger and his Nine Advent Motets
Born in 1839 in the small city of Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, Josef Rheinberger was a poster-child for musical prodigies. His father, a financial agent for the tiny principality's monarch, was not himself musically gifted. But acknowledging his son's remarkable abilities, he arranged for Josef—then only five years old—to be taught by a music teacher in Schlanders, 170 kilometers away in northern Italy. There the boy was taught music theory, piano, and organ. A second pedal board was affixed to the instrument to accommodate his short legs.
The investment paid off, as young Josef's native talent prospered. At the ripe old age of seven, he was appointed organist at the parish church in his hometown, and the next year his first composition—a three-part Mass with organ accompaniment—was used in the parish's liturgy. Having heard of this work and its eight-year-old composer, the bishop of the ancient Swiss town of Chur invited Josef's father to bring his talented son to the cathedral so the church leaders could confirm for themselves the capabilities of a potential treasure for the church's musical life.
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Ken Myers is the host and producer of the Mars Hill Audio Journal. Formerly an arts editor with National Public Radio, he also served as editor of Eternity, the Evangelical monthly magazine, and This World, the quarterly predecessor to First Things. He also serves as music director at All Saints Anglican Church in Ivy, Virginia. He is a contributing editor for Touchstone.
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