Franz Xaver Gruber was born on the 25th November 1787 and died on the 7th June 1863.
Who is he? Was he a famous German composer? No and no, he was Austrian and a school teacher.
But I’ve heard his name before. He is somebody famous, isn’t he? Yes, he is. He is the person who wrote the music for ‘Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht’ (Silent night, holy night)
I know that song. It’s the most famous German Christmas carol! I would think so. I wrote about the song here where you also find the lyrics and a video, but to remind you, a flood had made the organ of the Nikolaus Church in Oberndorf unusable, so priest Josef Mohr, who wrote the lyrics, asked Gruber for guitar music. The song became such a huge success and is sung every Christmas in various languages around the world.
Did he write any more after that? He did. According to Wikipedia, he “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.” I’ve done some internet research but unfortunately I cannot find any other tunes he wrote. If anybody else knows of some, please let me know as I would love to see/ hear them.
Well, happy 226th birthday, Herr Gruber. I wonder if you ever thought that your tune would turn into such a famous carol that still gets sung every Christmas hundreds of years later?