Fortress of the Rose is a fantasy for band that beautifully combines the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" with "Lo, How a Rose E'er Blooming" in a way that only Reber Clark can.
Genre: Band | # of Players: Standard
Level: 4.5 | Duration: 7:40
Clarinet in Bb 1
Clarinet in Bb 2/3
Contrabass Clarinet (optional)
Alto Saxophone 1/2
Trumpet in Bb 1
Trumpet in Bb 2
Trumpet in Bb 3
Horn in F 1/2
Horn in F 3/4
Percussion 1 [2 Players] (Snare Drum, Bass Drum)
Percussion 2 (Crash Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal)
Percussion 3 (Tam-Tam, Finger Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal)
Fortress of the Rose was commissioned by The Concordia University Chicago Wind Symphony, Dr. Richard Fischer, Conductor and The Concordia University Nebraska Wind Ensemble, Dr. William F. Kuhn, Conductor. It is dedicated to my wife Lee Ann; Ein’ Feste Berg was our wedding processional.
The work is a fantasy on Ein' Feste Burg ('A Mighty Fortress Is Our God') by Martin Luther (1483-1546) and Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen ('Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming'), a 16th century traditional German melody. The work concerns Luther’s time after the Edict of Worms through his time at Coburg castle in the Bavarian wilderness and the end of the Augsburg Diet, in which he first published his hymn 'A Mighty Fortress Is Our God' and first conceived and drew up the Luther Rose – a visual summation of his theology.
As the reigning authority sought to imprison and silence Luther (through the Edict of Worms in which Luther was declared an outlaw who could be killed by anyone without prosecution), Frederick III (the “Wise”) Elector of Saxony “kidnapped” him (probably with Luther’s consent) and stashed him at the Wartburg Castle in Eisenach where Luther completed, in eleven weeks, his translation of the New Testament from the Greek to what would become New High German. Just after publishing his definitive edition of Ein’ Feste Burg, Luther moved to Coburg Castle in the Bavarian wilderness a few miles from the Augsburg Diet. During this time, as the Plague arrived in Coburg, Luther created his sigil, the Luther Rose, which encapsulated his theology. His departure from Coburg coincided with the arrival in 1531 of what would later be named Halley’s Comet.
The work attempts to be a verse by verse descriptive fantasy on the hymn Ein' Feste Burg ('A Mighty Fortress Is Our God') by Martin Luther (1483-1546) combined with Es ist ein' Ros' entsprungen ('Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming'), a 16th century traditional German melody. Fortress of the Rose tries to capture the progression of ideas and relationships present in the poetry of both the hymn and song (see Table 3).
I chose to combine these two pieces of music because I was fortunate enough to discover that they worked together in counterpoint. The time in Luther’s life in which he created Ein’ Feste Burg and his sigil The Luther Rose (from the Edict of Worms (1521) through his stay at Coburg Fortress (1531) brought both tunes conveniently together “under one roof” as well. Below I hope to elucidate this time in Luther’s life and suggest some meanings of what transpired.