Radegund Variations (2017)
Erik Simmons, organ
Duration: 11 min.
Dedication: for Hartmut Siebmanns
Publisher: Zimbel Press/Subito Music Corp.
Radegund Variations (2017) was written for and is dedicated to Hartmut Siebmanns, cantor and organist in Pößneck, in the Thuringia region of Germany.
This work was inspired by the life of Radegund (ca. 520–587), who was a Thuringian princess (and later Frankish queen) most famous for founding the Abbey of the Holy Cross in Poitiers, France.
The piece begins with an original theme: its contemporary view of ancient modality represents looking back from the present time into Radegund’s era. The theme is followed by six contrasting variations, inspiration for which are drawn from events in Radegund’s life: her marriage and joining the Frankish court (1st variation); her flight from the court (after the murder of her brother) to seek protection from the church (2nd variation); her devotion to the needy (3rd variation); her friendship with the poet Venantius Fortunatus and her commissioning of his sacred poem “Vexilla Regis” (4th variation); her gifts of healing (5th variation); and the building of the abbey (6th variation).
In the third variation (and then again near the very end) appears as an ostinato cantus an allusion to the “Radegunde-Hymnus” by composer Andreas Willscher. This comes from his oratorio Radegunde, premiered by Siebmanns and the Pößneck community in 2015.