Symphony for Organ No. 5
The Symphony for Organ No. 5 in F minor, Op. 42, No. 1, was composed by Charles-Marie Widor in 1879, with numerous revisions published by the composer in later years. The full symphony lasts for about 35 minutes.
The piece consists of five movements:
- Allegro vivace
- Allegro cantabile
- Andantino quasi allegretto
The fifth movement, in F major, is often referred to as just Widor's Toccata because it is his most famous piece. It lasts around six minutes. Its fame in part comes from its frequent use as recessional music at festive Christmas and wedding ceremonies.
The melody of Widor's Toccata is based upon an arrangement of rapid staccato arpeggios which form phrases, initially in F, moving in fifths through to C major, G major, etc. Each phrase consists of one bar. The melody is complemented by syncopated chords, forming an accented rhythm against the perpetual arpeggio motif. The phrases are contextualised by a descending bass line, often beginning with the 7th tone of each phrase key. For example, where the phrase consists of an arpeggio in C major, the bass line begins with a B♭. The arpeggios eventually modulate through all twelve keys, until Widor brings the symphony to a close with fff block chords in the final three bars.
Following Widor's example, other composers adopted this style of toccata as a popular genre in French Romantic organ music, including notable examples from Eugène Gigout, Léon Boëllmann, Louis Vierne, Henri Mulet, and Marcel Dupré.
Usage at royal weddings
- Princess Margrethe and Henri de Laborde de Monpezat on 10 June 1967 at the Church of Holmen
- Prince Joachim and Alexandra Christina Manley on 18 November 1995 at Frederiksborg Palace Church
- Prince Frederick and Mary Donaldson on 14 May 2004 at Copenhagen Cathedral
- The Princess Margaret and Antony Armstrong-Jones on 6 May 1960 at Westminster Abbey
- The Duke of Kent and Katharine Worsley on 8 June 1961 at York Minster
- Princess Alexandra of Kent and Angus Ogilvy on 24 April 1963 at Westminster Abbey
- The Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips on 14 November 1973 at Westminster Abbey
- The Prince Edward and Sophie Rhys-Jones on 19 June 1999 at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
- Prince William of Wales and Catherine Middleton on 29 April 2011 at Westminster Abbey
- Performed by Frederick Hohman at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Newark, New Jersey)
- Performed by the composer at the Église Saint-Sulpice, Paris
- Documentary about playing the Toccata
- Conclusion of the First Movement played by Marcel Dupré on the Alexandra Palace organ, 7 March 1930 (direct link to MP3 file).
- Produced for the RollerCoaster Tycoon video game series by British video game musician Allister Brimble and performed by Peter James Adcock (link to YouTube video).
- Classic FM - Charles-Marie Widor: Organ Symphony No.5 in F minor. Accessed 26 December 2013
- Musik skal der til
- "Charles-Marie Widor (1844-1937)". Retrieved 2008-12-04.
- "The music setting to the marriage of Prince William, Duke of Cambridge to Miss Catherine Middleton". Retrieved 2015-03-15.
- The wedding of Princess Märtha Louise
- RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 Triple Thrill Pack Manual. Atari. 2004. p. 64.