A pioneer in the movement for reform of church music, b. at Kessewick, near Bonn, 12 Aug., 1835; d. at Boppard, on the Rhine, 21 Aug., 1904. Educated in the seminary for teachers at Kempen, he was instructed in music by Albert Michael Jopken (1828-78), and became professor of music at the Seminary of Boppard in 1868, a position which he held until his death. During all the years of his incumbency Piel displayed extraordinary activity as composer, teacher, and critic. He wrote a number of masses, both for equal and mixed voices, numerous motets, antiphons in honour of the Blessed Virgin Mary for four and eight voices, Magnificats in the eight Gregorian modes, and a Te Deum, all of which have enjoyed great vogue. Piel's compositions reveal the resourceful contrapuntist, and are of classic purity of style. His trios, preludes, and postludes for the organ are models of finish and smoothness. It is as a teacher, however, and through the large number of distinguished musicians whom he formed that Piel exerted the greatest influence. His "Harmonielehre" has passed through a number of editions and is a standard book of instruction in liturgical music. In 1887 he received from the German Government the title of Royal Director of Music.
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