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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Spring 2020

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Department or Program Affiliation


Degree Name

Master of Music (MMus)



First Advisor

Van Boer, Bertil H.

Second Advisor

Fitzpatrick, Tim (Musician)

Third Advisor

Dudenbostel, Ryan


Nineteenth century music is known for its grandiose over-the-top performances. Larger-than-life orchestras, choruses, settings, length of works, and even harmonic language were all commonplace at this time. Hidden in among all of this was a movement pulling entirely in the opposite direction. Sacred music performed during the worship service had always been more conservative than its secular counterpart, but a new movement began to push for sacred music to regain what it had lost since the days of the Renaissance masters. The Allgemeine Deutsche Cäcilien-Verein (The Cecilian Society) was formed with the hope of reducing sacred music to its core to allow for space for the contemplation of God and the listeners and participants. The Society, founded in Germany, grew and expanded as far as the New World, and with the encyclical Motu proprio of 1903 vanished even more quickly than it had begun. This thesis discusses the origins of this society and the figures responsible for it. The focal point is Anton Bruckner.

Anton Bruckner is a composer most known for his symphonies. Choral practitioners will have heard his more popular motets, such as Os justi and Locus iste, but his Masses and other motets are infrequently performed. One of the reasons that these motets are so popular is that they combine the simplicity of earlier music with various aspects of nineteenth-century harmony and structure that creates a special mix not found many other places. It is debatable whether or not Bruckner was influenced by the Cäcilien-Verein and if he even had any kind of relationship with them outside of a few encounters. His music reflects their suggestions on how sacred music should be written.




Bruckner, Romantic, Music, Cecilian, Motet, Biography


Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Bruckner, Anton, 1824-1896. Vocal music; Bruckner, Anton, 1824-1896--Criticism and interpretation; Allgemeiner Cäcilien-Verein für Deutschland, Österreich und die Schweiz--History; Allgemeiner Cäcilien-Verein für Deutschland, Österreich und die Schweiz--Influence

Subject – LCSH

Sacred music--19th century--History and criticism




masters theses




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