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Everything posted by themythes

  1. I recall serving for a while, from 1965, with David Blott and then Michael Austin arrived a year or so later; I shared the duties to some extent with John Slater from Canford School, but I do remember my time at the Minster with enormous pleasure. I am frequently in the Southampton area, so I will PM you to arrange a meeting, perhaps. David Harrison
  2. Very good to see the clip from the BBC about the new organ at Llandaff Cathedral and even better to know that it is in use and nearly complete. Pcnd probably knows that Guy Russell, who is Nicholsons’ tonal director and who was interviewed briefly, was a chorister at Wimborne Minster in the sixties (late, I think); it was during my own tenure of office as the Minster Assistant Organist, though my repertoire was, and still is, nothing like as extensive as that of the current incumbent! David Harrison
  3. In re post 52: pcnd - one of your very best. May you, like the King, live for ever. Although, at the time that my wife and I were married, I had not experienced many wedding services, I have always been mindful since then of the arrangement at our own ceremony. We had the signing of the register in the church nave on a small harmonium (not being used for the service!), and we accomplished all that was legally required during the singing of "Lord for thy tender mercies' sake". Not quite as long as "Hear my words" or "Vox Dicentis", but everything was done and dusted during that piece, which I estimate lasts about 90 seconds. Of course, in those days (early 60s), photographers in churches were definitely off limits. As a result we all got to the shampoo before the bubbles stopped bubbling. On the question of when one stops playing due to a late bride, I usually give them 5 minutes and then stop. A notable cathedral organist of my acquaintance stops right on the pre-agreed kick-off time. Of course, there are occasions when the matter is beyond the control of the bridal party, but I contend that these happen rarely. When people say to me "it's traditional for the bride to be late", my reply is usually, "should bad manners be traditional?" David Harrison
  4. It has been interesting to read how different churches arrange the question of wedding and funeral fees. In the benefice in which I operate the fees are agreed with the joint PCCs and form part of the standard charge made to those who are about to be matched or dispatched. Thus, in effect, the church pays each organist directly and we do not have to negotiate with either customers or funeral directors, although on occasion I have charged extra for an additional rehearsal. Videos are so commonplace now that we gave up the charging of a special fee long ago. The current fees for all of those who play in the various churches are, for a wedding, £85 and for a funeral £60, although, sadly, they happen comparatively rarely in our area; I think the bracing country air in this part of Worcestershire encourages all of them to live in sin for a very long time. David Harrison
  5. I realise that I am a little late with this one, but further to Barry Oakley’s note in which he tells us about his exchange of emails with Michael Austin, I decided recently that it was time I did the same. Having sent Michael a long and probably fairly tedious epistle about my history, not having been in touch with him since 1972, he replied immediately, bringing me up to date on his own adventures. As Barry said, Michael is organist of a church in Aalborg, St Mark’s, where he has been for 30 years. He tells me that until very recently Danish organists were required, by law, to retire at the age of 70, although this is, I gather, no longer the case. Among many other things he recounted was a very interesting description of the current organ in Bach’s church at Arnstadt, which, at least for Michael’s recital there (I don’t know if it actually has an electric blower) was blown by hand with a totally steady wind supply. As he said, “don’t let anyone tell you that steady wind needs a blower”, presumably electric. The main point of interest here, I hope, is that on Michael’s website there is an article which he has written about Rheinberger and his music. However, he covers musical as well as organ matters which go well beyond Rheinberger. I found it made fascinating reading about all kinds of musical ideas and I strongly recommend forum members to download it. There is much to stimulate and challenge all of us who play the organ. http://www.michaelaustin.dk/about.html If anyone gets round to downloading and reading the article, I would be most interested to know what they think, as indeed would Michael, who does follow the writings in the forum. I even got ticked off about my “hair shirt” comment. David Harrison
  6. MM retells the splendid story about Dr Wicks and Dr Jackson meeting some distance from York and had a brief discussion about who might be playing for Evensong; he suggests that, like so many of these “legends”, it may be just that. I should like to assure him that such is not the case as the first time I heard the story it was from Allan himself; my memory, in the autumn of my life, is inclined to fail, and it was nearly fifty years ago but I seem to recall that Allan told me that he was either accompanying or conducting a rehearsal for a choral concert in Leeds one Saturday, when about 4 o’clock the time that Evensong was then sung at York and during a break in the rehearsal he bumped in to Dr Jackson who had just entered the hall. The conversation was much as MM recounted it, but I have to say that I never discovered how the problem was resolved at York. The expression from Allan “she dived without a trace” hangs in the memory and I suspect that sub conductors with unaccompanied music covered the occasion. David Harrison
  7. May I join fellow contributors in their appreciation of Allan Wicks. He was, as Richard Astridge has said, one of our very finest cathedral organists and choirmasters and his encouragement of new music was a hallmark of his work. Those who knew him will remember his energy, enthusiasm and, as Jenny Setchell has reminded us in a previous note, his impish sense of fun. I had the privilege of being his assistant for an all too short time but I shall remember him and Elizabeth with especial pleasure. I hope that others would wish to join me in expressing to her and her family our condolences in their loss and our appreciation of all the excellent work that Allan achieved in his life. David Harrison
  8. Perhaps my comment about the Stainer tune being “the industry standard” was a little wide of the mark in view of the experience of others. My own preference is “Blaenwern”, though, at the risk of inviting more controversy, I expect I am the only organist in the country who is not entirely happy with the “modulation” from line 3 to line 4. It’s obviously just me. However, I’m sure that one is completely safe with this choice where no preferences are stated, but I did add the rider about weddings and funerals; I don’t think they’ve caught up with current thinking in this neck of the woods. Guilmant will, doubtless, recall. I go along with Malcolm in his choice of Billing for the Gerontius hymn; I believe Adrian always uses this tune at the cathedral. In response to David Coram’s comment about Jerusalem the Golden, I imagine that the fact that “Aurelia” was written specifically for it is widely known. What a jolly little hornets’ nest one appears to have stirred up; clearly there are opportunities here for many hours of fruitful time-wasting. My anorak is at the ready. David Harrison
  9. I thought this topic within a topic (see Hymns Discussion) was worth a fresh start so may I add a few thoughts on the subject of Love Divine and its various musical settings? The use of “Fairest Isle” has been known for quite a while now and a quick glance through some of the hymn books on my shelves have thrown up the following variations: from Songs of Praise (1931 edition) “Exile” and “Moriah”, which I recall was the one we sang at my boarding school; I remember thinking what a very boring tune it was, ending every line with the dominant chord. Good heavens, you wouldn’t want a Christmas hymn like that? In the 1925 printing of SoP, the dreaded Moriah is there but this time accompanied by a David Evans tune “Pisgah”. The Public Schools Hymn Book (1949) has “Moriah” and pairs it with “Shipston”. Hymns for Church and School (1964) has the Stainer “Love Divine” as 135 in 6 4-line verses, while 134, in 3 8-liners, uses “Arfon”, a marvellously strong and characterful Welsh Melody with an excellent descant by Leonard Blake. Ancient and Modern (1924) has the Stainer, of course, but also “Airedale”, a fine tune by Stanford; has any ever used or heard it? While The Baptist Hymn Book uses “Blaenwern” together with a fine tune by Henry Smart “Bethany”. One can almost imagine a complete CD made up of all the known tunes to this particular hymn; and then, perhaps not. I have heard the hymn being sung to a slightly adapted version of the “Ode to Joy” and no doubt correspondents can add other examples of their own. It really is quite surprising, given all these different published options, that the Stainer “Love Divine” seems to have become more or less the industry standard, or at least, the one they usually want at weddings and funerals! David Harrison
  10. “Eye” or “eh”; this seems to be a case, once again, of each to his own. But is there not a case to be made out for “aye” to rhyme with “day” because, although it is still a dipthong, it is rather easier to manage than “eye”, How would you prefer to pronounce “Laetentur” - as Lie-tentur or Lay-tentur. I favour the latter; in fact, if one follows the Sistine Chapel method of using the five pure vowel sounds it is surely much closer to Le(t). Diphthongs are the curse of singing English; nothing whatever wrong in speaking like Eddie Grundy from “The Archers” but one does hope that our singers will try to avoid sounding like him.
  11. Christopher’s latest posting prompts me to send this one; I have been mulling for a day or two over its authenticity, but even if there are one or two details which may not be completely echt, I think it’s too good to remain in oblivion. The story, as I understand it, of how the Scott case came to be in the South transept is intriguing. It came from an organist friend who happens to be a guide at the Cathedral. How true it is I know not, but my friend heard it from a local vicar, who was explaining to him how the Earl came to wear his hair unusually long. http://thepeerage.com/002803_001.jpg The Earl of Dudley was an equerry to Queen Victoria; the Prince of Wales, later Edward the 7th, found himself at odds with a notable European nobleman, who, consequently, challenged him to a duel. It was the custom then to be allowed to field a substitute and the Earl was given his marching orders: to take part on the Prince of Wales’s behalf, and thus the Prince’s part in the duel. The Earl came off second best (shades of the World Cup here, perhaps) and lost an ear as a result, hence, presumably the long hair. His resentment towards both the Prince of Wales and by association, Her Majesty, can well be imagined, and when he presented the cathedral with, among much else, the case for the organ he insisted that it go in the South Transept where it would hide a stained glass window given by Victoria in memory of Queen Adelaide. I have, also, the impression that when moved and installed in the North Transept the case will stand well forward of the wall to allow better egress of sound, but perhaps Christopher will enlighten us here as well. David Harrison
  12. I realise that this doesn’t really come under the heading of “General Discussion” about the organ but, if our moderator will allow it, I shall proceed. Can anyone enlighten me with some solid facts about a West Country composer called Arthur S. Warrell? Of course, everyone knows his arrangement of “We wish you a merry Christmas”, and some may have chanced upon the splendid hymn tune “Farmborough”, in Songs of Praise No 689 and in some later editions of English Hymnal. For some time I have had in my possession a copy of a setting of “A Lyke Wake Dirge”, published by OUP in 1932 but long out of print. Warrell’s setting, inscribed to Cyril Rootham, is in eight parts for double choir, unaccompanied and looks very exciting indeed. The song has a Christian message - roughly, the potential journey of the soul to paradise, assuming that one heeds the warnings of that which will be encountered on the way. (Shades of "Gerontius"!) I’m not sure how suitable it would be as an anthem during Lent, for example; there are, undoubtedly, some of our number far more qualified than I to pronounce upon the subject. I would be very grateful for their views. The words are readily available on the net; not all the verses are used in the setting: 1—4 and the last 3 - the ones about “Brig O’Dread”, have, mercifully, been omitted. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lyke-Wake_Dirge Does anyone know anything more about Warrell and what, if anything, he wrote besides the pieces quoted above? Google gives contradictory dates but I think that he was born in 1882 (or 3) and died in 1939. Born in Bath, or possibly at Farmborough near Bath; I can’t find much else at present. Part-songs seem, sadly, to have fallen largely into disuse; I am sad to think that I may never hear the LWD in my lifetime. I don’t have access to a choir that could do it justice! David Harrison
  13. themythes


    Brewer in D/The spirit of the Lord Most apt choices! One imagines the psalm would have been 75; this particular psalm covers not only cocktails but cards, rugby, weight-training and maybe other activities that should not be discussed or even hinted at in these august pages. I feel another thread coming on . . . . David Harrison
  14. Much of what has been discussed here is also to be found in an adjacent topic “Recording a CD”, copyright being the key issue in both threads. I expect I’m the last contributor to have discovered this. I blame the boxing gloves and skis. David Harrison
  15. Vox’s point about editor’s copyright lasting as long as a composer’s is, I’m sure, correct in essence, but I was given to understand by the nice people at MCPS (now PRS for Music) that this would apply where the editor had provided the first “scholarly or performing version”; id est, one which was the first publication of a performable edition of the piece. Much early music falls into this category, but if such a piece appeared in a second publication in a new typesetting, graphic rights only would apply to that case, unless there was a substantial difference from the previous edition. Simply altering a few notes won’t do and one cannot assume someone else’s copyright in this way. Whether Emery’s edition of Bach would thus qualify is an interesting and possibly debatable proposition, assuming that actual graphic rights of his edition have “timed out”. Incidentally, do not the graphic rights now last 35 and not 25 years as hitherto? There has been some excellent advice from many board members in this thread, but there is no doubt that it is the ultimate Pandora’s Box for performing musicians and, if one is in any unsure, contacting PRS for Music will provide the right answer. http://www.prsformusic.com/Pages/default.aspx David Harrison
  16. themythes


    One I heard over the weekend. An announcement at a carol service went as follows: the third verse of this carol is as follows—”Enough for him whom cheribum worship night and day; A breastful of mild . . . .” I may have misheard the ranconteur, but I thought it was alleged to have occurred during a live TV broadcast. I have certainly come across a service sheet from a cathedral in the south of England which contained the words “Cheribum and seraphim”. . . Enough already. David Harrison
  17. This is probably not the right topic for my narrative, but it involves the choice of music for a Eucharist at one of our Great English Cathedrals. A visiting choir was expected and so, also, were the details for the setting and motet. Despite the best and continued efforts of the Cathedral Organist to find these out from the visiting choir’s director, answer, as they say, came there none. How would you have filled in the blanks? It would, I think, have been almost impossible to improve upon the solution arrived at by the CO for the cathedral music list: suffice to say that the details for that Sunday appeared with the setting as “Missa Sine Nomine” and the Motet “Oh, that I knew” by Anon. David Harrison
  18. themythes


    The reference by Vox to Howells’ Sine Nomine reminds me that many years ago I found myself playing the piano in the presence of the great man while accompanying a fellow student in the Brahms 2nd Clarinet Sonata; she was trying for an internal award at the Royal College of Music. After the other examiners had put a few questions to the candidate, Howells tackled me. I told him that my first study was the organ and that I was about to take my ARCO and was, in fact, learning Sine Nomine, set that year, 1956. “Really,” he replied, rather enigmatically, “what do you make of the piece?” Being brought up to be a good boy and always to be truthful, I said, “Well, Doctor Howells, not a lot, I’m afraid.” “Hmm,” was his reaction, “neither do I”. David Harrison
  19. Thank you, Cynic, for your exposition. I have come across this sort of problem before and have attempted solutions along the lines recommended; I just hadn’t stumbled upon the expression itself. David Harrison
  20. I fear that I am quite unable to assist Signor Fiffaro in his quest for enlightenment in respect of the Dupre Finale from “Les Vêpres de la Vierge”, but I wish him a happy issue out of the affliction which currently besets him. I write as a supremely ignorant village church organist who has never encountered until now the term “Notes Communes” and I feel that I should know what it means. I am prepared to accept that I am almost certainly the only member of the forum who is not familiar with the phrase - indeed, I’m sure that all members of our local Organists Association constantly speak of nothing else. Can you enlighten me, please? Don’t all rush at once. David Harrison
  21. Grubby raincoats seem to be dress of the day just at present with the 32ft reed thread and thus this topic seeks information about subterranean rumblings rather than the noise more often generated by a thoroughly good curry. I speak here, obviously, only for myself. I have noticed that in NPOR a 32ft flue rank is often described as a Subbass or other similar name, but it is usually unclear as to whether the bottom octave is either proper 32ft tone if only for a few notes, possibly down to G or F, or it’s a question of wishful thinking with the all too frequent quinted rumble. Can fellow contributors help with details of smallish instruments, in particular, which, to their knowledge, have at least some genuine pipes in the 32ft octave which can impart a decently satisfying vibro massage? The best known examples are, of course, St Selpulche’s, Holborn and Kilkhampton; further examples would be of great interest, I’m sure. The most notable example, apparently, of wishful thinking that I have come across recently is of the organ at St Andrew’s, Banwell, east of Weston Super Mare. It is, admittedly a 3 manual, but with only 21 speaking stops; it boasts a 32ft Double Open Diap. on the pedal; the organ is at present wrapped up in cellophane as a result of church repairs but I could not discern any pipework which might have justified the rather boastful nomenclature. NPOR has 32 Double Diap but the stop knob on the detached console is engraved as I have given it. Can any member of the forum from that region enlighten me? David Harrison
  22. I must apologise to one and all that I haven't yet sussed the art of quoting; after I have done my time on the naughty step I will try to sort it out. I'm sorry (I know. we've heard a lot of that expression recently) to have misquoted you, Cynic. I think we probably did hear the same recording and clearly we heard different felicitations and irritations. I'm most grateful for your observation about the pedal entry in the B minor fugue and I shall have a closer look at that when I come to the piece again. Quot homines, tot sententiae, suus cuique mos. David Harrison
  23. themythes

    Absolute Pitch

    From one David H to another: Your memo about pitch is very well put; if your last paragraph suggests that you think that I might be in favour of altering drastically the pitch of the organ that Koopman used, then I expressed myself carelessly in my original post, for such could not have been further from my mind. Organs with non standard pitches are, as we all know, not uncommon, especially on the continent; I was merely trying to suggest that the fact of the different pitch made still have had an unsettling effect on ears not cursed with what I prefer to call pitch memory. As David points out, pitch has varied considerably over the ages though I'm not sure how valid the term "absolute" really is! Still, whatever you call it, he's dead right, it can be a flaming nuisance! There are well known organs in this country which are sufficiently deviant from standard pitch as to make them difficult to use with an orchestra; certainly when I was at school in Salisbury in the late 40s and early 50s the cathedral organ could not be used thus. I last played it in October 2007 and the pitch seemed just as "bright" then as before. I assume that it is still is! David Harrison
  24. Clearly Cynic hasn't heard the Koopman recording of the B minor P & F or he might be tempted to express himself in rather less conciliatory manner. The reaction of Mr Kemp and Mr Corr and others is entirely understandable; there seem to me to be a number of factors which lead to their dismay. First, and it's not Koopman's or anyone's fault but the organ is very sharp; my own pitch memory plays me false all too often these days but it sounds closer to C sharp minor than C. This in itself can be unsettling even if you don't have pitch memory. But surely the performance of the Prelude must take the palm (if that is le mot juste) for the most rhythmically slipshod and careless performance of any piece not only committed to disc but presented in any form as a performance. There is nothing "free" about it; it sounds like the effort of an enthusiatic but incompetent amateur, which is not how I have viewed Mr Koopman as a performer in the past. Cynic has made a large number of quite excellent recordings and he would never to allow such poor, unrhythmical and uncontrolled technique to be issued on a recording. Nor would his producer! It's almost worth having the recording just to remind ourselves of how bad a commercial recording can be. What an appalling offering to foist upon the public! The fugue, I feel, fares better, although the player sounds quite uninterested in what he is doing. On the question of speed, I have thought from time to time about the tempo of the fugue, and I wonder whether anyone would agree with me that usually one can gauge the most effective speed of a piece not from the opening bars but more likely from a passage in the middle: bars 37 and on for a few, if taken too slowly can over-emphasise the fact that they are little more, dare I say, than high class note spinning; rather like similar passages in the BWV 565 fugue. Mr Kemp raises another interesting point; how many of us interpret the music we play and direct as a result of having heard it that way many times in the past. We have got used to it and it sounds comfortable and familiar. Of course, it isn't always wrong, but going back to the score and revising it afresh can sometimes yield surprising results. When Benjamin Britten recorded Elgar's Dream of Gerontius many critics found the result unfamiliar and often unacceptable; the trouble was that in almost every case what Britten did was what Elgar had directed in the score! (I think I may have bored for Britain before on this subject . . .I plead that I have done nothing wrong and it's all within the rules). Must go and deal with the other hornet's nest . . . David Harrison
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