Award of European Church Music for Godehard Joppich

A few days ago, the German theologian and church musician Godehard Joppich was honored with the 2018 Award of European Church Music. Among Joppich’s predecessors are names likes Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki, and John Taverner.

Born in 1932, Godehard Joppich was a Benedictine monk at Muensterschwarzach Abbey in Germany until 1990. He studied theology and Church music, was one of the most important followers of Eugène Cardine O.S.B. in the modern research on Gregorian Chant (Gregorian Semiology), and became the first professor of Gregorian Chant at the Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen, Germany.

He is one of the founders of the International Association for Studies on Gregorian Chant (AISCGre, here are the links to the German and to the Italian site). Although he later left the AISCGre, his works on the restitution of the original Gregorian melodies and on their theological and spiritual interpretation still remain as a highly regarded basis for any current research. Godehard Joppich also intensively worked on vernacular chant by creating German antiphons that translate the ideas and structures of medieval Latin chants into the vernacular.

In his most recent publications, Mr. Joppich focused on the most fundamental structures of Gregorian Chant, the archaic modes (“ur-modes”). In a joint work with Lutheran church musicians, he published editions of vernacular psalmody in that manner, as you can see in this example:

Joppich: Preisungen
Taken from Godehard Joppich/Christa Reich/Johannes Sell: Preisungen. Psalmen mit Antwortrufen (Münsterschwarzach: Vier-Türme-Verlag, 3rd edition 2005).

A German report by the Südwestrundfunk on the 2018 Award of European Church Music can be found here.

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  1. Thank you for this notification. I first encountered Joppich’s recordings of chant (with the monks of Muensterschwarzach Abbey) in Fr. Anthony Ruff’s chant course at St. John’s. The recordings were revelatory, as they were about as far away as you can get from the notes-in-groups-of-twos-and- threes approach we all grew up with. Worth a listen if you want experience the excitement of a more informed interpretation.

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