In memory of Gunther Morche (1940-2012)
The fact that musicology consists of two components – music and scholarship – which complement and illuminate each other was vividly exemplified by the Heidelberg musicologist, university music director, organist and organ scholar Gunther Morche. Born in Mannheim in 1940, Morche first studied theology in Heidelberg and Paris and received organ lessons from Marie-Claire Alain in Paris and Michel Chapuis in Strasbourg. After a short stint as vicar in Wolfisheim near Strasbourg he turned entirely to musicology. In 1975 he gained a doctorate from the University of Heidelberg under the supervision of Reinhold Hammerstein (whose complete works he would later co-edit and publish in two volumes) with a thesis on the classical French organ music (Muster und Nachahmung; Neue Heidelberger Studien zur Musikwissenschaft 8). This was followed by further publications on organ music (among them „geeignet, die Orgelmusik aller Zeiten und Länder darzustellen“. Bemerkungen zu einem obsoleten Topos, in: Acta organolocica 17, 1984).
Morche worked as a music journalist, lectured in Karlsruhe and Heidelberg and, following the death of Siegfried Hermelink, took on his duties as Akademischer Rat (University Lecturer) and university music director. In 1985 he accepted a three-year research scholarship at the German Historical Institute in Rome. Upon returning to Germany, he continued to teach and to conduct research as Akademischer Rat in Heidelberg and, following his retirement in 2005, for another three semesters at the University of Music and Performing Arts Mannheim. The Italian vocal music of the sixteenth century and its Europe-wide impact remained the main focus of his research. He presented his findings not least in numerous contributions to the new edition of Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart. Morche’s articles, always characterised by an inexhaustible attention to detail, are deeply inspired, in terms of both language and content, by the knowledge, intellectual depth and passion of their author.
In 1998, Gunther Morche organised an international symposium on Giovanni Valentini with Silke Leopold and Joachim Steinheuer. Yet the sheer depth of his knowledge and interests was most adequately reflected in the wide spectrum of his academic teaching, which ranged from the thirteenth century motet all the way to Ligeti and Serialism. Parallel to his research, Morche frequently performed his discovered treasures of seventeenth century motets with a group of vocalists and musician friends. More recently, he made his transcriptions available via the (thanks to a great number of indices easily usable) online portal QUICS, which he maintained in collaboration with the physicist Hermann Hinsch (Quellen italienischer Concerti des Seicento, sources of Italian concerti of the seicento; currently about 250 works from 180 composers). His last entry before his death on 15 November 2012 was a motet by Tullio Cima: Vanitas est divitias perituras querere.
Gunther Morche’s bequest contains a great number of still unpublished documents. The fact that QUICS continues to be highly sought-after, and the great significance of Morche’s research on the history of the motet, inspire his relatives and colleagues of the institute of musicology to continue his work. Details will be clarified in the coming weeks.