Carl Thiel

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In dulci jubiloAch Elslein, liebes ElseleinPreis sei Gott im höchsten ThroneDer Morgenstern ist aufgedrungen
Carl Josef Thiel (9 July 1862 − 23 July 1939) was a German organist, church musician and professor of music.
Born in Oleśnica Mała, Thiel was born as the son of the trained miller and grain merchant August Thiel and his second wife Regina Thiel, née Gebel. His mother's two brothers, Carl and Ignatz Gebel, worked as principal teachers and choir directors in Ziębice and Parchwitz. Thiel received his first musical instruction from the cantor Scholz of his home parish. He was baptized catholic and grew up in Lower Silesia in simple circumstances. Nevertheless, he was able - just like his brother Reinhold, who was five years younger - to complete training as a primary school teacher. In 1876 he came to the Präparandenschule and afterwards to the Lehrerseminar [de] in Oppeln. As a junior teacher Thiel taught at a village school in Koszęcin, where he had his own grand piano, and a little later in Zabrze(Mikultschütz). At that time Thiel also played viola. After four and a half years as a teacher and a study leave granted to him in Berlin, he gave up the profession in 1888 and devoted himself to church music.
From 1887 to 1892 Thiel studied with Woldemar Bargiel at the Royal Music Institute of Berlin and worked and taught there as organist and choirmaster, initially in the emerging community of St. Bonifatius (Berlin-Kreuzberg) [de]. From 1888 to 1891 he was instructed by Heinrich Bellermann in historical musicology and counterpoint.
In 1890 Thiel founded the Kirchliche Singschule, a choir consisting of members - mainly teachers - of all Catholic parishes in Berlin. After his studies he was appointed "etatmäßiger Hilfslehrer" for Gregorian chant at the institute in 1891. Among other things, he devoted himself intensively to the Gregorian chant, because in his opinion, of all music genre, this was best suited to the liturgy. In 1892 he started as a church musician in the parish church St. Sebastian, Berlin in Gesundbrunnen, where he already found a church choir. In 1898, the Kirchliche Singschule was renamed to Verein für klassische Kirchenmusik, which consisted of the St. Sebastian choir. At the turn of the century Thiel lived in Charlottenburg.
After two years of collaboration with his teacher and the director of the Royal Institute of Church Music, Hermann Kretzschmar, Thiel was appointed his representative in 1909. Together with Hermann Kretzschmar he founded the Madrigal Choir of the Academy and appeared several times as its conductor. He had to give up his activity as a church musician in St. Sebastian on 30 June 1910 due to the workload resulting from his teaching activities. He was appointed Professor of Music and, after Hermann Kretzschmar's illness, became Director of the now renamed State Academy for Church Music and School Music from 1922.
In the 1920s, Thiel was one of the most important music educators in German musical life. From 1925 until his death he was a member of the Preußische Akademie der Künste in Berlin.
When Hans Joachim Moser became his successor as director of the State Academy after his retirement in 1927, Thiel went to Regensburg and worked there at the Hochschule für Katholische Kirchenmusik und Musikpädagogik Regensburg [de]. After three years there he was appointed by bishop Michael Buchberger and was also appointed director as successor to Karl Weinmann, who had already been provisionally represented by Peter Griesbacher. He held this position voluntarily and held it until the end of his life in 1939. By organizing a commemoration ceremony for Max Reger and a celebration of German culture with Richard Wagner's Parsifal, Anton Bruckner's Te Deum and works by Max Reger, he and his student Theobald Schrems in 1933 strongly supported newer music.
Thiel died unexpectedly during a spa stay in Bad Wildungen of a stroke at the age of 77. He is buried in Berlin-Tempelhof at the Friedhof der St.-Matthias-Gemeinde (Berlin-Tempelhof) [de].
As the government's bell expert, in 1916, Thiel saved several parishes from the confiscation and melting down of their church bells because of their beautiful sound or because of their artistic value.
Among his Berlin organ students was Max Walter from 1919 to 1920. The church musician Theobald Schrems passed the state examination for church and school music with him from 1925 to 1928.
In Regensburg the curriculum of the church music school was fundamentally redesigned under Thiel's direction. He increased the duration of studies and tightened the entrance and final examinations, so that the church music school finally received state recognition. Furthermore, he united the Regensburg Church Music School with the Regensburger Domspatzen of the Regensburg Cathedral. During the period of National Socialism Thiel took over the direction of the Fachschaft VI (Catholic Church Music) in the Reichsmusikkammer from 1933..
Thiel dedicated his life to the promotion and cultivation of Gregorian chant. However, he was by no means limited to the occupation with church music and was also engaged as a musicologist.
Thiel composed and arranged sacred vocal music and published older a-cappella music. Some of his works still belong to the repertoire of many church choirs today.
In the Königliches Musik-Institut Berlin [de], a bronze bust of him was erected in the 1920s, which can still be seen today in the auditorium of this building which, as an Institute for Church Music is now part of the Berlin University of the Arts.
He has also been awarded the following honours:
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