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Everything posted by Fiffaro

  1. I have two pairs of Bloch's ballroom dancing shoes. They use leather for both the sole and the heel. The one pair that is 25+ years old are more flexible and transmit more of the feel of the pedals through the sole than the pair I bought this year. Perhaps I've worn through the soles somewhat with all my years of playing trio sonatas, or the shoes are now made with thicker leather. Not sure. Whatever, they certainly are a snug fit, important for an organist with my size feet. http://latinodanceshoes.com/store/index.ph...;products_id=59
  2. Fiffaro

    Set Free

    Thanks to this thread, when I gave a recital at the end of last month on an organ with such a system, I was able to understand it and program the pistons for my concert. I had not previously encountered such a system. Thank you all for your contributions and for the original question. (I can justify the time I spend following this forum to my wife, now!) The incumbent, only installed a couple of months ago, still hadn't worked out how the system was meant to work and was relying on what was already set, while complaining about some of the combinations. Murphy's law. In the final run through, the night before the recital, the system stopped moving between the various levels and was stuck on the first level. Fortunately, the first 20 minutes was taken by four compositions of Rheinberger (= minimal registration change), but I was also performing a substantial, new Australian composition and this then required reworking of the registration so it could be done by hand. That meant an unexpected late night before the recital. Pech! Another fault in an electronic system crippling an organ, I'm afraid.
  3. It really is impossible to say how long particular organ music should take to add to one's performance repertoire. I had a colleague who sight read Reger Choral Fantasias and once witnessed someone read the manual part of the Vierne B-flat Minor Toccata at sight - without mistake and to speed. The story is told of a fellow student of mine in Vienna being asked to stand in for an organist who had taken sick, and performing, from memory, the Heiller organ concerto with only a few days' notice. On the other hand, I've heard many performances of wonderfully played organ music by organists without that particular ability. My harpsichord teacher used to say that performance repertoire should be performed to ones friends a year before its first public outing. I try to add repertoire by performing it for my church, then letting it rest for several months before working it ready for a recital performance. No matter how carefully I prepare that initial performance, the second one is always an improvement. For me, there is no great technical difficulty in Mendelssohn Sonata 1 (apart from a couple of stretches in the last movement), but I took more time than I would have expected in the initial fingering and learning of movement one particularly to ensure that each note was played for its correct length. I've known some organists not to pay as much attention to each note in this movement than is needed. Having spend the time in this initial stage, the passage to being ready for performance was relatively fast for me. [i've found the final movement of Sonata 1 particularly useful in that it can make less than adequate instruments sound okay.] I'm lucky with the trio sonatas as I've played them all in transcriptions for a small early music ensemble and I now know the individual parts of each trio sonata well. It has also been instructive to listen to other instruments turning these lines into music. I believe it is very important to know what you would like to do with each phrase, and every note, before sitting down to work out fingering. These pieces thrive on independence between all three parts, and to my mind that is more difficult to achieve than conquering any of the technical demands that these pieces provide. I can't comment on the Dupre: I've never played any of his music that is particularly demanding. So much wonderful music to learn, so little time to learn it. And here I am browsing the Board again!
  4. I take the view that you cannot rank a PhD against a DMus or DMA. A few questions need to be asked. What institution? With which supervisors? What was the topic or specialty? Even then, candidates from the same institution who worked with the same supervisors can be of variable standards.
  5. I thought it would be easy to find a list of composers of organ music ordered by their anniversary years, the sort of list that will allow me to plan some repertoire learning over the next few years after my Buxtehude binge and the anticipated end of my Messiaen monomania. As you can guess, because I'm posting this, I drew a blank. Any pointers?
  6. Thank you for pointing out the thread you started, Vox Humana. I'd not be upset if the moderator deleted this thread to remove the duplication. Is there a way to draw this to the moderator's attention?
  7. As students, at least once a year we would get together to have a party where we would bring LPs of organ music that should never have been committed to disc. My contribution can be mentioned, because, while the organist is still alive, the record label was not a major one. The story goes that a particular organist had arranged to make the first recording on the Ronald Sharp instrument in the chapel of King's School in Sydney, Australia. On finding out about this, another organist had driven the approximately 850 kms from where he was based, complete with a recording engineer and all the necessary equipment, and recorded the concerto arrangements of Bach in one evening, thus wresting the claim to first recording for himself. The concerto that I'd choose to play was the one in G Major (BWV 592). The triplets in the first movement had no discernible tempo relationship with the rest of the movement. That wasn't the 'feature' that so endeared this particular recording to me, however. This was found in the final Presto movement, where the ongoing semiquaver figures make way for single bars where the hands alternately play chords, as in bars 41 and 45, for example. Yes, you guessed. These chords, I could swear, were played by flapping the palm of the hand on the keyboard resulting in alternating clusters. As I recall, some decades later, not one of these chords was correct. I so wish that I had not eventually used this LP as a frisbee! It was unique.
  8. As a student in the late 70s, I idealistically believed that there was no real need for including a biography in my program notes. If I played well enough, I didn't need to tell people how good I was, they would recognize this for themselves. Now more mature, and more cynical, I have learned that most of the audience that walk in off the street would prefer to believe what they read rather than use their own ears to form an independent opinion of a performer. I've also learned a lot about writing biogs from reading those of others, including some that would best be filed under 'fiction'! I remember attending a masterclass in Vaduz where the person leading the brass class included, in her program notes, that she was not only the loudest trumpet player in Europe, but the most beautiful, too. My education in this area really started, though, when I commented to a fellow student, who had already taken a year off his University course and temporarily departed Australia to study with Trevor Pinnock, about the role call of early music names that a particular performer listed as having worked with. All the big names of the era (Leonhardt, Tagliavini and so on) were included. I was so impressed. My colleague simply said, 'And has she performed with any of them more than the once?' In my time, I've seen a number of claims to be the first to complete a particular feat that had been accomplished by others, earlier. It seems that there are some who simply make claims without checking to see if they've been beaten to the punch. (Youngest person to perform the entire organ music of Bach from memory is one I remember.) Others have laid out goals that they will achieve, but subsequently had to delete the reference from the biog when they didn't achieve the stated goal. I also recall a colleague of mine who listed one of the leading organ teachers as someone he'd studied with, knowing that this study was a lecture / masterclass that lasted for the grand total of all of one day. But, for me, the ones that really get my goat up are the 'best organist in [suburb | city | country]' or 'best organist of the next generation' claims, that are essentially meaningless. Or claims to being especially anointed by a famous composer (How many organists believe that they had a special place in Messiaen's life? I remember Thomas Daniel Schlee saying that Messiaen had a way of making any organist seem specially favoured.) Or claims to be the leading exponent of a particular composer's works. But, I do think that most performers tend to study other musician's biogs, for ideas and for amusement, too! Please do share the amusing or the silly or the exasperating, if you so desire.
  9. Personordaughterder Organs Discussion Board, please. None of that sexism here, thank you!
  10. But only because 'das Mädchen, das Fraülein' are both diminutives. Most German nouns for humans follow natural gender. And, in my six years in Austria, I don't think I used 'das Fraülein' at all.* Das Mädchen would be used for a pre-pubescent female only, after that, 'die Frau' would be used. I am amused that in the English speaking world, we have moved towards male vocation titles ('actor', not 'actress' for a female) whilst in the German speaking world, the feminists insist on using the female suffix for their vocational nouns and not being included when only the male form is used. Feminism takes different forms in different cultures. Not a huge surprise, really. *This motivated me to check my German dictionary (Duden - Deutsches Universalwoerterbuch) and I found a number of meanings that no longer in current use, and a few in colloquial usage. 1) Used for a very young girl in a lighthearted or threatening manner "Watch out, my dear young lady" [nimm dich in Acht, mein liebes F.!] 2) A prostitute (although noted as also becoming obsolete) 2) A German lady who was a lover of an American soldier following 1945. Just as well I didn't use it! I could have found myself in hot water very quickly.
  11. I've often wondered why so many organists, including the international globe trotting variety, fail to use a swell pedal with any degree of subtlety. The analogy for me would be concert pianists thinking that every crescendo ended in a ff and every decrescendo ended in a pp. I sat through a concert at the Melbourne Town Hall recently where hours must have been spent selecting, programming and rehearsing the registration changes, but it was all let down, as I thought, by wildly excessive use of the swell shutters. Now I understand why - historically informed performance practice. All these organists have researched trigger-pedal mechanisms and have implemented the results of their painstaking research. I feel such an idiot.
  12. Thank you all for your replies, the time you've taken, and for sharing your own experiences and learning methods. I feel humbled that others would take so much time and be so generous in responding to what I posted. I've never tried hypnotism, but I did overcame severe nervousness by using progressive muscular relaxation followed (eventually) by imagining myself giving a recital whilst in the resultant altered mental state. I haven't needed to do that for a long time (decades), but perhaps I could try again imagining a very good focus on the task at hand. I'll certainly think about hypnotism, although I would have to overcome a certain skepticism. I'm just about ready to do anything, including sacrificing a virgin chicken or two, to help. I work hard at fingering pieces, the only exception being pieces that I can play at sight with no slips at all. These are typically not the pieces that I struggle to maintain my concentration when playing. Sometimes I suspect that not having worked so hard on them actual aids my concentration when playing them. My fingering is comprehensive, with enough fingering written in to ensure that I can reproduce what I've worked out, even if the piece has been rested for some time. I do avoid writing in fingering that is obvious (for example, that falls in a five-finger position, or is thumb or fifth on a leap) so that I don't have to read more fingering than makes clear what is to happen. I either work backwards through a piece, or select those sections that I believe will be most difficult and work on these sections, one-by-one, first. Earlier in my career, I played along to recordings as a way to help me assimilate an interpretation that I particularly enjoyed. I found that particularly helpful in coming to terms with different genres of organ music. Nowadays, I can reproduce a particular organist's playing styles by listening and remembering how they have performed - not that I find myself wanting to do this very often, as I become older and grumpier (or my ego thinks that the process should be reversed in some cases!) I justify far to much expenditure on recording equipment so that recording and listening is as easy as possible. I will not play music for a recital unless I've listened to myself playing; although it happens less and less, there can be a gap between my mental image of what I'd like to do, that is, what I think I'm doing, and what is actually happening. I find that my concentration is different as soon as I turn recording equipment on, hence this is a good way to avoid major changes when the extra adrenalin kicks in for a recital. Sometimes I think hard slog is counterproductive. Perhaps I'm deluding myself, but sometimes the difficulty in maintaining concentration seems inversely proportional to the time I've spent working on the music! Having said that, I believe that I'm working smarter and harder on learning pieces for my recital repertoire than I ever have before - except for this problem of concentration. Thanks for the pointer about books on mental states - I'll certainly follow that. So, I've written much with more first person singular pronouns than would normally make good reading, hoping that this will not result in the thread losing interest to others. For those suggestions that I've not commented on, please rest assured that I either already have seen the wisdom or will take them on board. I have to balance sharpening the ax with actually swinging it! It's off to practice now.
  13. Thanks HG, I've corrected this, now.
  14. I've a question that I've been meaning to post for some time, and a comment by Cynic has prompted me to put fingers to keyboard. Recently, I chanced on what was clearly a masterclass situation for tennis coaches. Although my interest in sport is minimal nowadays (it's so boring watching Australia win all the time ), I was fascinated by the techniques that were being taught, watching for some time and going away wishing that I could sit in on a similar session for organists to teach me approaches like that to aid my practice and my performances. I have a number of approaches that I do employ. For instance, I'll designate a piece each week as the piece that I want to see as near note perfect (while remaining musical) as I can. Each practice session, I will then play the piece, remembering any wrong notes or split notes etc, recording the number of them, then working on the mistakes. Finally, I will repeat the piece, again counting the instances where I'm less than happy. My aim is to have a count of zero mistakes for the FIRST playing. Another 'trick' is that I use colour flags to mark sections where I need to be particularly vigilant when I'm playing, even recording the number of times I slip in a particular passage so I can't delude myself about how well I know a section. Nevertheless, my mind does wonder, even when performing, and the slips I make seem to correspond to a loss of concentration on the performance (What am I going to cook tomorrow night? I should pay the rent tomorrow. You get the idea.) rather than hitting technical limitations - for most things. So how do you go about preparing the (mythical?) faultless performance and how do you channel your concentration during the performance? And, Cynic, please excuse me for using your quote. A fellow student of mine back in my Vienna days once stated that his teacher had performed all of the keyboard works of J S Bach in a series of concerts without mistake. One of the group responded with "Yes, but was it worth listening to." If you play more excitingly with an occasional slip, I'm far more interested in hearing you than if you were to play perfectly but not have a chance of entry onto my list of '10 best organ recitals'.
  15. I had been booked for a wedding today where the bride didn't come - the wedding was canceled six days ago. Wouldn't I love to know why!!! I once played for a Japanese Wedding Blessing where the couple were not talking to each other. All the communication, what little there was, was relayed by the harried translator. And then there was the bride who booked 'my' church for her wedding, two years in advance, with no name for the groom on the booking form. Now, there was one dangerous lassie for any eligible male she chanced on in those two years. You could safely bet that on the appointed day, she was not going to run the risk of the male being given any more time to consider by her causing the wedding to begin late! Back to the topic, and again a Japanese Wedding Blessing (JWB), where the couple was considerably late. The photographer let me know what had caused the delay. The company that was running the package deal targeting the JWB market was run by a dress designer, and the center of attention before the ceremony was on ensuring that the bride was picture perfect, assuming that the groom could fend for himself. The groom for this JWB had never dressed in tails previously, and being somewhat shy, couldn't bring himself to ask for help, so he was eventually discovered in his room with only his underwear on, caught by his lack of experience with formal wear and his reticence to ask for help. Between the various board (bored?) correspondents, there must be a book on wedding anecdotes just waiting for compilation.
  16. I take the approach that I'm not paid to play a recital, I'm paid to play for a specific length of time, and then previously agreed on pieces during the service. I make sure that the wording I use when corresponding with couples reflects this. ("I'll play music from when the congregation has moved into the chapel until it is time for you to enter.") Once the bride is late, I allow longer and longer relaxing time between each piece. Too late, and I stop playing. Weddings do not pay enough so that I'm willing to be too fatigued to do the practice, or preparation for Sunday, that I've slotted in for after the weddings. My main source of wedding revenue is from a university college where the couple lose a very substantial deposit if they are not off the college grounds an hour-and-a-half after the starting time of their wedding. Despite that, I've had brides send me a starting time that does not line up with the standard starting times at the college. A quick email suggesting they check the starting time, copied to the college office, works wonders. With the prevalence of mobile phones, there is no reason for the bride being late without someone being informed. In an age when the mentality is that payment for the use of the chapel is really hiring of the chapel, and that hiring then allows you to do what you'd like (after all, you've paid for it), it can still be difficult to encourage all couples to stay within the agreed on guidelines, to the point where some couples have said that they are prepared to lose their deposit in order to do something that is not allowed. They must be wealthier than I. At that stage, I refer the matter to the Rector to deal with. He's bigger than I.
  17. Richard, I have a folder on my Bookmarks Toolbar (I'm running Firefox) named simply "Mander". In that folder I've placed links to the three separate categories, and Firefox automatically adds an "Open all Tabs" entry at the bottom. This gives me the opportunity to select particular areas or to open all three with one click. David
  18. Indeed, this is in the thesis. It corresponds to Peter William's view, as I understand it, that so much of Bach's music serves a didactic purpose. This further weakens the arguments for proposed tuning methods in which analysis of pieces are used to support a system.
  19. I'm afraid that I don't recall having heard his first sonata and I don't have a copy of it. Sorry. Strangely, I don't recall many of his students playing his works for the Klassenabende at the Hochschule in Vienna. I dropped the second sonata from my repertoire because of audience reaction - from an audience that was open and accepting of new music - and because I didn't find it especially rewarding to play. It wasn't difficult to get under my fingers.
  20. Many thanks for replying with this information.
  21. Of course, for those who are interested, you can visit the website of Doblinger at http://doblinger.at/ If you click the Music2Print icon, you will find that you can not only order Doblinger's music to download, but often the first page is available to preview. Have fun!
  22. I've loaned my 2007 edition to a friend - who is now on long service leave. My memory is that Snyder is not so sure about the organ being retempered, but still thought this might have been the case. I would be grateful if you let me know if this does not accurately reflect what is in the book, as I will not regain access to my book for a couple of months.
  23. Most of these are known to me from the time I studied and worked in Vienna. Doblinger does a laudable job promoting living composers of organ music. Most of these composers are or were very accomplished organists, and some of the works can be demanding. Radulescu, for example, is left-handed, and some of his compositions do reflect this. On the other hand, there are some delightful works that are relatively easy to learn and play. Heiller's 'Choralvorspiele zu Liedern des Dänischen Gesangsbuchs' (Chorale preludes on tunes from the Danish hymnbook) contain 7 settings, influenced a little by jazz harmonies and quite approachable. A Prelude, Interlude and Chorale on O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden is listed as a 3rd grade piece in our local Examination Board's syllabus. I regularly play four of these as music at weddings or funerals - one of these is on the hymn 'Sorrig og glaede', (Sorrow and happiness), which seems appropriate for both occasions! You might like to look at Heiller's 'Tanz-Toccata'. composed in 1970 if you are after something more challenging, but not too difficult. Here you will find influences from composers such as Jehan Alain. His meditation on 'Ecce lignum crucis' is worth learning for Holy Week. It is effective and not very technically demanding. It was published in Mordern Organ Music Book 2. Planyavsky's 'Toccata alla rumba' is quite popular, and probably deserves to be, but having spent time to learn his Sonata II, I only played it the one time and have dropped it from my repertoire. Planyavsky is very witty, very competent, but for my taste, lacks what is required to sustain prolonged exposure to a piece. I've chuckled at what he has done in his improvisations, but rarely gone away thinking that I've heard something special. Radulescu's compositions reflect his intense study of early organ music, as well as music of the twentieth century. This results in it being refreshingly different, infusing, as it does, early composition techniques into a modern idiom. Try looking at 'Ricercari', which has three movements, Organa, Versus, and Estampie. Quite original, and well received when I've heard it performed. Radulescu is very highly regarded by those organists who know his music. Kropfreiter was strongly influenced by the neo-Baroque movement, and his works are often thin in texture. 'Toccata Francese' is worth considering (as is his 'Vier Stücke' for flute and organ if you are looking at music for this combination). I've never been attracted to Martin Haselböck's compositions - an issue of personal taste - but if you have the opportunity to hear his father, Hans, improvise, then do. Wonderful late romantic idiom music flows from his fingers so naturally. There are others that know this music better than I, (Bazuin, perhaps?) but hopefully this will start answering some of your questions. David
  24. Ibo Ortgies' PhD dissertation (The practice of organ tuning in North Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries and its relationship to contemporary musical practice), complete with English summary, is available for free download. http://ibo.ortgies.googlepages.com/englishsummaryphd-thesis Ortgies challenges some of my understanding of the history of temperament, and I'm looking forward to wading through the German. To whet the appetite of fellow Mander Organ forum readers and contributors:- Ortgies takes a chapter to discuss tuning procedure and techniques, and uses documentation of payments made to bellows treaders to examine the length of time taken for tuning sessions. This is used to give insight into whether an instrument was retuned, or retempered and retuned. Called into question, for example, is Snyder's claim that the organ in the Marienkirche was retempered. (And I've used Snyder to support Werckmeister's tuning systems in this forum. Oh, dear!) Ortgies argues that ensemble playing drove the temperament issue more than solo organ playing, and that we might need to reexamine our assumption that the extant organ literature is able to give insight into either compass or tuning issues.
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