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Ian van Deurne

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About Ian van Deurne

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  1. Well, I myself play Liszt's "Ad nos" which I started to learn in my early twenties. But being such a monumental work, in fact it was the first major piece from the 19th century that I wanted to learn, note perfect, but I wasn't able to commit it fully to memory for five years before I decided I was ready to perform it for the first time in public (although of course I was also learning many other pieces as well). To me, I still regard it as the greatest single organ work of the nineteenth century, maybe because I was so young when I first heard it at an organ concert at the Münsterbasilika in Bonn (organ: Klais 1961) that I decided that whatever else I did as an organist, I was going to learn and perform this piece and one day be able to perform it at a public concert. Since that time I have performed the Reubke Sonata from memory as well, but to me, although it is far more tightly wrought, it doesn't have the same emotional depth or impact that the genius Liszt could command. It's unfortunate that Reubke died so young aged 24 of TB, otherwise we can only wonder what other great organ works we now might have in the repertoire. I have always used the Peters/Straube edition as it was given to me as a 21st birthday present by an uncle so I don't really know much of any later editions, although I know that they do exist. As regarding tempi in Baroque organ music: contemporary sources state the Bach himself would often perform pieces at an alarming rate. However, this doesn't mean that we need to think that meant charging through a prelude and fugue in order to get to the end in the fastest time possible. You also have to consider that Bach was a disciple of some of the best Northern German organists of his day, including Reincken, Lübeck, Bruhns and of course Buxtehude. However, the organs in Bach's homeland could never measure up to the instruments in the north of the country in size and completeness, although he had at several times tried to gain employment at several of the Hamburg churches, most notably at the St Jakobikirche in 1720. This might indicate his frustration on not having a really decent organ to play every day. His first organ at the Bonifaciuskirche in Arnstadt (today Bachkirche) his next organ at Mühlhausen, in which a preserved document gives details of his proposed rebuilding of the instrument, to his appointment as court organist at Weimar Schloss, all contained modest instruments prevalent in Thüringia at the time. Whether he intended to only play some of his greatest organ works on the instruments available to him at the time, or whether he was always thinking of the far superior northern organs in Hamburg, Lübeck, Stade and others we can only speculate. The "ludicrously fast" performances of Bach in America can really only be put down to one man, the rather strange Virgil Fox (1912-1980). This individual, in his style of organ playing and general demeanour was tremendously influential in his day, not just on other organists but to a vast contingent of the concert-going American public as well. On one hand it can be said that he was able to bring the organ to a much wider audience than it had ever enjoyed since the early 17th century in Europe. But on the other hand, his style of organ playing was of a certain age, rooted in the 1930's American style. I attended three of his organ concerts in the late 70's when I was still a music student, including two played on the enormous 6 manual and pedal Wanamaker organ (c.28000 pipes) in Macy's department store in Philadelphia, where after the concert I was able to meet him and have an in depth chat. Although by the time I was able to meet him he was suffering terribly from the pancreatic cancer which would eventually kill him, his friendly demeanour and willingness to promote the organ to the mainstream musical public was undiminished. His style of playing Bach, however, was certainly very strange. The Toccata in F-Major (540) for instance would be first played on the full Swell with the box closed, then gradually opening it until the start of the first pedal solo when the 4', 8', 16', 32' and finally the Quint 21.2/3 reeds would be added one after the other just before the start. During both pedal solos he would dance around the bench, waiving his hands about as if performing some kind of ritualistic dance, before settling back down to perform the rest of the music, again with liberal use of the swell pedal along with crescendo and diminuendo effects. Despite all of this, I found him to be a genuinely sincere musician who only wanted to share his joy and love of the organ with the rest of the world.
  2. I don't know why someone hasn't yet invented a way to register an organ using a smartphone. Surely there's going to be an app for it shortly. That way I can set up all the stop changes at breakfast before I even get to the church. The turn on the blower and just play. If set up correctly the organ will change the stops at the appropriate time that the music requires. If any subtle changes are required for the closing hymn/anthem, they could easily be done on the smartphone during the sermon. Yes, I think this is probably the way forward for the 21st century that we're now living in!
  3. Yes, it has been (sort of) preserved. Well, more or less just dumped there, probably because so many of the most famous French organists (not just Vierne) have played it. However, I too have always thought that the modern console was totally out-of-keeping with the style of the Cavaillé-Coll case. In fact it might now be found more financially and aesthetically more astute to take the Vierne console out of its shadowy resting place and restore it to its full original glory. If this was to happen then I know a great many organists who would welcome this more than just enthusiastically, especially some of the younger generation of serious players who would just love to place their hands on the same keys as used by many of the great French masters. I experienced that kind of joy when still a music student when I was able to play some pieces by Johann Sebastian Bach on some organs still in original condition that he is known to have played, and for some reason it gave me much more incentive to want to perform on any organ even better. So hear's hoping with fingers crossed!
  4. In my young days working for Johannes Klais, such a "thing" would never have been contemplated, especially because as has already been said here that it resembles something from the realms of a pipeless digital instrument!
  5. Re Anloo - I don't know this organ myself but I do know of it. It is essentially by Arp Schnitger but it might well have been altered somewhat throughout the centuries. Arp Schnitger died in 1719 so it also would have been completed by someone else. However, Schnitger never actually employed "pupils", he didn't need to because he had two very capable sons who had learnt the trade from him. And because this is the Netherlands, it could only have been finished by either one or the other person. By far the most likely is his youngest son Frans Caspar Schnitger (1693-1729) who on his father's death took over the entire business in the Netherlands as well as finishing all of his works still in progress i.e. his last major organ at St Laurens in Itzehoe (Germany - only the case still there) and one of his most famous instruments at the Michäliskerk in Zwolle in 1721. This organ, having four-manuals, pedal and 64 speaking stops made it the largest organ by far in the country at that time. Upon Frans Caspar's early death aged 36, the business then was taken over by his foreman Albertus Anthoni Hinsz (1704-1785), who was to also marry his widow and adopt his four-year-old son Frans Caspar Schnitger jr. Hinsz would continue to build in the same style as the Schnitger family. One of his last commissions was the rebuild of the organ from Arp Schnitger at Uithuizen (1700-01) in the last year of his life. His most famous organ is probably that at St Nicolaaskerk in Kampen, completed in 1743 and subsequently enlarged in 1790 by Frans Caspar Schnitger jr (1724-1799) and Hermann Freytag (1759-1811) who had been apprentices of Hinsz. Both the organs at Kampen and Zwolle are well worth visiting, as are many others, too many to single out here, although while you're in Kampen you must visit the Buitenkerk down the road. This contains a two-manual and pedal instrument, some of whose pipework dates back to the late 15th century and still has the upper part of the original 'Blockwerk' preserved. as well as later additions, mostly by Jan Morlet - both father and son at different times in the 17th century.
  6. What I meant by a fully fledged and independent instrument was firstly, the fact that until the mid 19th century, there was not one organ built that had any pipes exclusively made for the pedal organ which had remained completely unnecessary so far as English organists were concerned. The organ built for the new St. Paul's Cathedral in London by Bernhard Smith in 1708, although provided with three manuals still had no pedals, let alone any pipes of its own. It wasn't until 1720, on the request of Georg Friedrich Händel that an attached pedal to the Great manual was provided to enable for him to play organ music from the continent, including probably the music of his great contemporary, Johann Sebastian Bach. Apart from this, English organs at the time were extremely conservative in providing tonal variety in their specifications, simply because they were only there to accompany the singers or the choir. You either needed a quiet or soft sound to accompany anthems, or a larger sound to accompany pieces in which the whole community was permitted to join in with. However, I'm not sure when this congregational hymn singing developed in Britain because most of the organs then faced solely into the choir from the chancel screen. The introduction of both east and west facing Principal ranks (i.e. Diapasons) must date from then because originally most of these gallery organs had either no pipes facing into the nave or were provided with wooden dummies. In other words, no independent pedal, nothing in the way of tonal variety, except for loud or soft registrations. No string stops, no character voices except for Trumpets, Bassoons (if you were really lucky) and the very occasional Vox Humana which was imported from the Netherlands, most likely from a builder from the continent. It is not surprising therefore that there doesn't seem to be very much written music exclusively for the organ before the 18th century. Henry Purcell seems to have written some but not much of his output survives. Not until organists like John Stanley or William Walond, both London organists to you find any specific music for the instrument, although none of their pieces had a pedal part. the other peculiar term for organ music in Britain is the "Voluntary", originally just an improvised piece but which slowly developed into a two-movement piece (slow and fast) within the Anglican Church in the reign of the first Hanoverian King, George I. With best wishes, Ian.
  7. My grandmother, who was an organist and teacher once told me that she had attended a concert by Widor at Saint-Sulpice when she was 18 years old (which would have been mid-to-late 1928) and he played both the 5th and the 9th Organ Symphonies with some other smaller pieces between. She told me that the tempo he used for the Toccata in F was "somewhat slower than how most people play it now, it lasted about 6.50 minutes if I remember it right" is what she told me. I myself have played it frequently for both weddings and the occasional funeral but not for quite sometime. It seems to be out of favour now, especially for weddings. My performances take around 6 minutes 20 seconds, using an average three-manual organ in a resonant acoustic which seems about right to me. The worst rendition I have ever heard was a recording of the American Virgil Fox, who managed to despatch it in 4 minutes and 18 seconds on a very large, five-manual150 stop organ, which was ridiculously fast. But as my grandmother had told me, he was always going over-the-top to prove his virtuosity was better than anyone else's so he shouldn't be taken too seriously as far as performance standards are concerned. With best wishes, Ian.
  8. Well, my eldest daughter's a girl and yesterday she played Max Reger's Choralfantasia on "Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott" from start to finish without stopping. Now if ever one piece of music could be classed as severely masculine, that one has to be a serious contender. When I showed her that article this morning, she just shook her head, smiled and said "What a load of flippin'* nonsense*. What are women supposed to do then, just stand there and polish the stop knobs?" * she didn't actually use these two words but much stronger expletives! With best wishes, Ian
  9. You're looking at the principles of doubled unison ranks the wrong way around. The organ chorus in Europe developed originally from the so-called "Blockwerk" which contained multiple ranks of Principals, Octaves, Quints, Tierces of various pitches, combined with Mixtures and Cimbels which gradually became "stopped off". The early organs from the Baroque period, especially in the Netherlands and Northern Germany re-introduced this arrangement for the higher ranks in order to boost the treble power somewhat of the instrument to enable it to perform the new task it had now been given: namely to adequately accompany the community in the singing of hymns within church services which, especially in the Netherlands before 1640 it had been completely forbidden to do since many of the strict Calvinist clergy regarded organs as "Playthings of the Devil" or other "Popish naughtiness" and should therefore be removed from churches altogether, although this is really a separate subject for another time. The organs in England, however, developed slowly, not being so far removed from the progress of other keyboard Instruments such as the harpsichord. Therefore, it wasn't until the 19th century had gotten well under way that the need for a large all-encompassing organ for a major building or a church had become desirable. English organ builders then obviously had little or no knowledge of how to tonally design a large organ since there had been no reason to think that it would ever be needed. Consequently, when William Hill was asked to submit a tender for the contract to build a large new organ in Birmingham Town Hall it represented for him a great challenge. Apart from the technical problems with a mechanical action for an organ of that size, he had no knowledge of how to design a tonal specification which would adequately fill such a large space. Therefore, his design he followed was the only one he could think of, by employing numerous doubled unison ranks of 16', 8' and 4' pitch, thinking that more pipes of the same type would mean a much bigger sound which of course was completely wrong. If only he would have taken the opportunity to have a quick paddle across the North Sea to do some research into large organs already built in the Netherlands, such as at Alkmaar or in Haarlem, he would have quickly learnt that the proper way to design a large organ tonally was to provide a build-up of the different choruses throughout the compass rather than to just duplicate pipes of the same pitch ad infinitum. It wasn't until the Great Exhibition in 1851 when organ builders from the continent were invited to build organs for that enterprise could the English organ builders see just how it was supposed to be done which, by accounts of that time seem to find great favour amongst them which would ultimately drive the desire to provide not only the large towns and cities with organs, but for every large or small village as well. That, coupled with the introduction in 1840 of the first pedal organ with Independent pipes, again from William Hill, the English organ finally managed to mature into a fully fledged, independent instrument, somewhat 200 years later than its nearest European cousins. With best wishes, Ian.
  10. The earliest tremulants were to be found in the area of Europe that now occupies north-eastern France and Flemish Belgium, in fact the same area where the pipe organ as we know it today was first developed during the mid 15th century. The first examples were built into the main windtrunk(s) which meant that it normally affected the entire pipework. It was during the 17th-18th centuries that this effect was more gradually refined, enabling the effect to be confined to the secondary departments, although many organs built late in the 18th century would usually contain at least two tremulants: one in the main windtrunk affecting the entire instrument and the other only on the second and/or third manual. The Vox Humana reed stop was first invented and employed in the Netherlands between 1580 and 1600 so anyone wondering which had come first (a sort of chicken and egg conundrum) will know now that it was the Tremulant that was employed first by almost 150 years. Fan Tremulants were a 19th century invention, first used in the USA and obviously developed from the American reed organ. However, their use has always been somewhat limited, only being capable of working efficiently within a swell box or another enclosed department. With best wishes Ian.
  11. "Boying" the bellows reminded me of a particular church service that I was 'volunteered' for by an organist friend of mine who was going on holiday abroad for three weeks and needed to find a substitute performer. Although he had never told me this before I waved him off at Manchester Airport the week before, was that this service was not going to be just a normal Sunday service but it was, in fact something that I hadn't heard of at the time, a 'patronal festival' kind of service which meant apart from the usual hymns and other pieces, the choir was going to sing a full-scale anthem as well as other bits, including me softy accompanying the primary school children in a song they had learnt during the term. That, as well as a couple of extra hymns completed the programme. Now, the other thing I never knew before accepting this job was that the church was in the process of having all the electrical circuits rewired a few weeks before but this work had run slightly behind. This meant that although all the lighting was operational, they hadn't got round to installing the three-phase electrics by the time of the service which naturally meant that the organ blower was out of action so the whole service would need to be blown by hand. This, I was told by the vicar, wouldn't be any problem as he'd engaged one of the locals to perform this task as he used to do it all the time when he was a boy so "it shouldn't present any problems at all." Come Friday night choir practice, arrangements had already been made to give this service a "full dress rehearsal" to iron out any timing or processional problems that might arise. It was then that I was introduced to "Old Frank" - an octogenarian parishioner who was going to "poomp tha' organ." Well, at first everything went fine although the choirmaster stopped proceedings a couple of times to comment on certain things. We got through the anthem and another hymn okay before it was the turn of the children to perform their song. Then for the final hymn which contained six verses, long enough for the choir to process down the church and back to their robing room. Then trouble. I had just played the first line of the second verse when the wind pressure started to fall and the organ died, sounding like a dying bunch of ally cats as it did so. I stopped, everyone stopped. 'Oh my God!' I thought as I scrambled off the organ. 'Old Frank, I hope he's alright and hasn't had a heart attack or something!' I walked round the back of the organ, opened the curtain and there was Old Franck, sitting on a chair and glancing over a newspaper. "What's up, are you alright?" I gasped. "I thought perhaps you were ill" I said. He just looked at me, shook his head and said "No, no, I's alright boy." and smiled. "So why have you stopped, we haven't finished yet!" I asked. Then he looked at me again, stood up, put down his paper and said in a serious tone. "When I was a lad, I used to poomped tha organ 2,464 times e'rey Sunday. Und tha's ad that!" he told me before sitting down again and picking up his paper. By then the vicar had arrived with a couple of churchwardens to see what was going on. In the end I left them to it and returned to the organ bench, informing the choir what had happened as I did so. After another five minutes or so one of the churchwardens came up to me and said "You should be alright to finish now. We've spoken to Frank gently and he's agreed to provide the organ with some more wind." as he stood shaking his head with a big grin forming on his face. Just then I heard the organ roar into life again and we managed to finish the rehearsal without any more problems, but I said later that it was just as well we had rehearsed it all before the actual performance on Sunday as it could have been very embarrassing. All of this happened over forty years ago but I expect old Frank is up there somewhere, complaining to the angels that "tha's ad enough poomping for today!" P.S. As regards registration changes on Silbermann and other organs from the 18th century, I always used to engage my two elder daughters to turn the music (if indeed I actually needed it by then) and change the stops when required and it always worked well. Playing historic instruments it is totally unacceptable to "bang the stops in and out" as they all need to be treated with great care and respect. I did, however, come across one organ that had two very small foot levers at floor level underneath the right stop jamb that worked by engaging or disengaging the manual shove coupler when playing. I found it invaluable during my student days as I would often forget to engage the coupler manually, not being used to shove couplers at that time. When I asked the organist about it he wasn't sure just when it had been fitted although he knew that it was very early In the organ's history. Making a detailed study of the mechanism much later, I estimated that it wasn't later than about the mid 1820's, the organ having originally been built in 1742. With best wishes, Ian
  12. Oh yes, dear old Sir Christopher Wren positively hated organs, referring to the St Paul's instrument as "that damn box of whistles" apparently when the original siting of the organ was up for discussion. Given the fact that he designed so many of the churches in London after the great fire, you'd had thought that he would have got quite used to them!
  13. Well, although I know that it might be completely incorrect, the RAH organ is still known throughout the world as being built by Henry Willis, with some enlarging and revoicing by Harrison & Harrison in the 1930's. The organ in St Pauls' Cathedral, however, is acknowledged to be a complete re-interpretation of the original Willis organ by Noel Mander so it should rightly carry that builder's name. I heard too that Noel Mander really wanted to restore the historic Smith case and return it to its original position on a gallery between the nave and the choir as were most cathedral instruments originally sited, but as usual the Church of England would not sanction such a bold enterprise. I can still feel Noel Mander's frustration over this, but I'm afraid this blinkerd thinking over the siting of organs within the Anglican Church has never actually gone away and probably never will.
  14. This is entirely the point that I was trying to make. Thank you Tony. With every blessing to you too Ian.
  15. Okay, let's get this Gedackt thing sorted. This spelling is the correct German generic spelling, which can mean several things in English: covered, lidded, or more correctly in the case of an organ, stopped, meaning that the pipes are of half length and made in both wood or metal, normally with wooden stoppers. Apart from very small chamber or "Truhenorgeln", meaning "Trunk Organs" in which the 8ft and 4ft pipes are always made of wood, I would more than usually make these pipes in metal for a full-sized instrument. The prefix Lieblich in English also has various meanings: soft, gentle, which could also cover sweet, and lastly, lovely, but that's pushing it a bit as a friend of mine found out when trying to chat up a German girl. "Ich bin lieblich, yah?" he asked, but she just shook her head at him as if he was mad and walked away. But the word has nothing whatsoever to do with memories. The word Gedaeht or Gedaehtnis(with an umlaut of course but as this computer is new, I haven't got it changed over to a German QWERTZ keyboard as yet) is the word for memories or more precisely memorial. Different organ builders can use different spellings of the word of course, specially from the past as their education would have been solely based on local habits or customs. In the Netherlands it is Gedekt and in other northern countries it can also be Gedeckt, depending on the builder's preference. In the Romansch speaking countries it is entirely different. In France and also in Alsace and Lorraine it is usually either Bourdon, Bordon or even Burdong if you're in the Rheinland but this is only found in organs built in the distant past. Spain has usually Bórdeo or Violon, while Italy calls these pipes Flauto camino, Bordone, or more than likely just Flauto since they can be exceptionally lazy in these things. With best wishes, Ian
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