German composer and arranger Franz Biebl studied music at the Humanistic Gymnasium in Amberg, and received Master of Music degrees in composition and choral conducting at the State Music Academy in Munich. Biebl was employed as the choral music consultant to the Bavarian State Radio, where he worked relentlessly to fill the station’s archives with popular choral music, listening to and encouraging small choral groups all over Germany. As a composer, Biebl strove to expand the German folk-song repertoire, composing hundreds of arrangements for all types of choral ensembles.
Biebl’s setting of the Marian antiphon Ave Maria exploits the richly sonorous possibilities of double-chorus writing for men’s voices. The familiar Ave Maria text is sung by a four-voice choir and answered by a trio of soloists. Between each of the sung “verses” of text, a soloist chants a shorter bit of scripture. The devotional quality of the text, which commemorates the Incarnation, and the rich chordal sonorities of Biebl’s music create a satisfying blend of medieval chant and warm, 20th-century harmonies. The version we sing in these concerts, as well as two other editions for mixed chorus, has been published by Hinshaw Music of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, under the Chanticleer Choral Series label.
Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae
Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum;
Maria dixit: Ecce ancilla Domini;
Et verbum caro factum est
Sancta Maria, mater Dei,
The angel of the Lord made his annunciation to Mary et
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you;
Mary said, “Behold the servant of the Lord;
And the Word was made flesh
Holy Mary, mother of God,