GRUBER Franz Xaver
GRUBER Franz Xaver (born 25 November 1787, Hochburg-Ach, Upper Austria; died 7 June 1863, Hallein, Salzburg, Austria) was an Austrian primary school teacher, church organist and composer in the village of Arnsdorf, who is best known for composing the music to "Stille Nacht" ("Silent Night").
His given name was recorded in the baptismal record as "Conrad Xavier," but this was later changed to "Franz Xaver". The Hochburger schoolteacher Andreas Peterlechner gave him music lessons. Gruber worked as a weaver until the age of 18, then trained to become a schoolteacher. He completed his music education studying with the church organist of Burghausen, Georg Hartdobler. In 1807 Gruber became a schoolteacher in Arnsdorf. He also became the church caretaker and organist.
In 1829 Gruber moved to Berndorf, and in later years to Hallein, Salzburg, where he was named choir director, singer and organist. In 1816 he took on the additional responsibilities of organist and choirmaster at St Nicholas Church in the neighboring village of Oberndorf bei Salzburg.
Together with Joseph Mohr, a Catholic priest who wrote the original German lyrics, Gruber composed the music for the Christmas carol "Stille Nacht" / Silent Night. On Christmas Eve of 1818, Mohr, an assistant pastor at St Nicholas, showed Gruber a six-stanza poem he had written in 1816. He asked Gruber to set the poem to music. The church organ had broken down so Gruber produced a melody with guitar arrangement for the poem. The two men sang Stille Nacht for the first time at Christmas Mass in St Nicholas Church while Mohr played guitar and the choir repeated the last two lines of each verse.
In later years, Gruber composed additional arrangements of the carol for organ and for organ with orchestra, as well as scores of other carols and masses, many of which are still in print and sung today in Austrian churches.
Gruber died of natural causes on June 7, 1863 at the age of 76.
"STILLE NACHT / SILENT NIGHT" autograph versions:
Original score by Franz Gruber written on December 24, 1818; D-Dur, 6/8 time, for two solo voices and choir, with guitar accompaniment. Location: lost.
Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1854; D-Dur, 6/8 time; for 2 solo voices and choir, without accompaniment; 5 verses (the 3rd verse of the original is missing). Location: Stille-Nacht-Archiv, Hallein.
Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1830; 6/8 time; for 2 solo voices and choir, with organ accompaniment. Location: lost.
Score by Franz Gruber dated Dec. 12, 1836; with title: "II. Geistliche Lieder / auf die heilige / Christnacht, (Nr. 2)" ("Spiritual Songs for the Holy Christmas Eve"); Es-Dur, 6/8 time; for 4 voices, 2 violins, viola, flute, bassoon, 2 clarinets, 2 French horns, cello and organ; 6 verses. Location: Stille-Nacht-Archiv, Hallein.
Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1845; with title: "Weihnachtslied" ("Christmas Carol"); D-Dur, 6/8 time; for 2 solo voices with mixed choir and accompaniment by a stringed trio, 2 horns and organ; 1 verse of text (verse 1 of original). Location: Stille-Nacht-Archiv, Hallein.
Score by Franz Gruber, dated Dec. 30, 1854; the score accompanied Gruber's "Authentic Account" response to the inquiry from the Royal Court Chapel of Berlin as to the origin of the song. Location: lost.
Undated score by Franz Gruber, estimated to be from around 1860; with title: "Kirchenlied / auf die / heilige Christnacht" ("Hymn for the Holy Christmas Eve"); D-dur, 6/8 time; for soprano and alto voices with "quiet organ accompaniment;" 6 verses. Location: Salzburg Museum, Salzburg.
Undated score by Joseph Mohr, estimated to have been written between 1820 and 1825; with title: "Weynachts=Lied" ("Christmas Carol"); D-dur, 6/8 time; for 2 voices with guitar accompaniment; 6 verses. Location: Salzburg Museum, Salzburg.