Jump to content
Mander Organs

Zimbelstern

Members
  • Content Count

    135
  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

0 Neutral

About Zimbelstern

  • Rank
    Advanced Member

Profile Information

  • Gender
    Male

Recent Profile Visitors

1,386 profile views
  1. It just so happens Colin that I am presently carefully reading your extremely informative article “The Tonal Structure of Principal Stops”, in order to gain a better understanding of harmonics as they apply to organ pipes. It is significant that Hans Henny Jahnn’s work as a writer thinker and organ builder was for most of his life heavily bound up with his theorising about the ‘harmonic’ structure of the universe. I have yet to digest the enormous amount of material in German that exists concerning Jahnn and his relationship to the Orgelbewegung, but it is appears that theorising about harmonics, both in a practical, acoustic sense and in a philosophical one, strongly influenced his groundbreaking restoration of the Schnitger organ in St Jakobi Hamburg in 1925, a milestone in the movement’s history. The aspect of the Orgelbewegung that all its adherents subscribed to was that on a 19th century Romantic organ (Schweitzer, however, exempted Cavaillé Coll from this criticism) the inner parts of a work by Bach were to all intents and purposes inaudible. The ‘discovery’ that they sounded as clear as a bell on an instrument by Schnitger was therefore a revelation. But you are clearly the expert here in explaining why.
  2. I certainly think there are parallels between what was happening in Germany in the 19th century and in other countries. Just as the Pre-Raphaelites and devotees of Arts and Crafts in Britain looked back to the Middle Ages, so artists in Germany, notably the Nazarene movement (the subject of part of George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch) also looked back to that time. It should be remembered that the ‘rediscovery’ of Bach, starting with Forkel at the beginning of the 19th century, coincided with the occupation of Germany. As the 19th century progressed, Bach became more and more identified in (especially Protestant) Germany with national pride in ‘German’ values of workmanship, piety and devotion to spiritual and Christian values, untainted by Romantic excess, although Romanticism was of course, the context in which he was first ‘discovered’. Catholic areas of Germany saw the rise of Caecilianism, once again starting as a kind of Romantic devotion to music of the past, this time to the pure and uncluttered polyphony of Palestrina. Wagner himself was a devotee. The 19th century also saw the subject of musicology become established in German universities, a science (Musikwissenschaft) that could take its place alongside other respectable subjects. Thus began the publication of the music of old masters such as Samuel Scheidt, Schütz, Praetorius, etc. In 1891 the monumental series Denkmäler deutscher Tonkunst began to be published. Once scholars and musicians came face to face with editions unencumbered by added editorial markings, the questions were obviously posed: how was this music performed, on what kind of instruments and how did it sound? Side by side with these developments, idealistic youth movements were springing up in Germany. The most important of these was the ‘Wandervogel’, founded by a teacher at a grammar school in the Berlin suburb of Steglitz in 1896. The movement emphasised rambling in the countryside, back-to-nature living, self-responsibilty and the spirit of adventure. The Wandervogel and its counterpart, the Jugendmusikbewegung, also ‘rediscovered’ the German Folk Song, at the same time as Cecil Sharp and Vaughan Williams were collecting English folk songs . The movement also contributed to the revival of the recorder, since it was easy to carry on rambles. All this was happening while Arnold Dolmetsch was pursuing his studies and researches into old instruments. It is interesting to compare the English and German versions of the article on the recorder. The English version gives far more information on its revival in Germany (although I cannot, of course, vouch for its accuracy)! “Among the earliest ensembles to begin use of recorders in the 20th century was the Bogenhausen Artists' Band which from 1890–1939 used antique recorders and other instruments to play music of all ages, including arrangements of classical and romantic music. Nonetheless, the recorder was considered primarily an instrument of historical interest. The eventual success of the recorder in the modern era is often attributed to Arnold Dolmetsch. While he was responsible for broadening interest in the United Kingdom beyond the small group of early music specialists, Dolmetsch was not solely responsible for the recorder's broader revival. On the continent his efforts were preceded by those of musicians at the Brussels Conservatoire (where Dolmetsch received his training), and by the German Bogenhauser Künstlerkapelle. Also in Germany, the work of Willibald Gurlitt, Werner Danckerts and Gustav Scheck proceeded quite independently of the Dolmetsches.” The Bärenreiter Encyclopedia states: “The instrument maker Peter Harlan (1898–1966), the “father of the recorder”, played a major role in the recorder renaissance. Harlan, himself a former member of the Wandervogel, saw the perfect means to realize the ideal of a return to nature and truth in the instruments of the sixteenth century, particularly with regard to recorders, fiddles, gambas and clavichords. In the mid-1920s Bärenreiter, probably through an introduction by Willibald Gurlitt, made contact with Harlan. In the following years he produced the range of Bärenreiter recorders of different sizes which sold for about 4 Reichsmarks in his workshop.” Which brings us neatly back to the Orgelbewegung. For it was Gurlitt who, in 1921, as one of the early proponents of the Orgelbewegung, had the groundbreaking 'Praetorius organ' built in the Institute of Music in Freiburg im Breisgau by Oscar Walcker, based on 1619 designs by Praetorius.
  3. A chance comment in a recent post on this site has prompted me to read extensively on this topic in recent days. I come at it not only as an organist, but also as a Germanist. Having read through various threads on this forum, notably the one in 2007 regarding the immediate postwar period in northern Germany, as well as some of the extensive literature available, I am struck by the fact that the origins of the movement seem to lie, not in the initiatives of organ builders in Germany, but rather in the general artistic and cultural movements at the end of the 19th century, which then influenced organists, writers and even theologians. It seems to me that the Orgelbewegung was actually quite a multi-faceted affair, with major disagreements between its leading protagonists. I’m thinking here, among others, of Albert Schweitzer, Christhard Mahrenholz and that extraordinary genius (novelist, playwright, organist, composer, publisher and organ builder) Hans Henny Jahnn. There were strong ideological currents too: rather as the Green movement had its strong proponents in the NSDAP, but also its antithesis in left-wing circles, so the Orgelbewegung too was seen by National Socialist ideologues as reflecting values at the heart of German culture (information that has come to light since 2000 regarding the celebrated musicologist H.H. Eggebrecht is highly disturbing), whilst Jahnn was a pacifist and animal rights supporter who was denounced and persecuted by the Nazis and went into exile. My point in all this is that the history of the Orgelbewegung may have been somewhat misrepresented, if not misunderstood. Organ builders surely picked up the new trends and commissions which were driven by cultural, artistic and ideological movements, rather than taking the initiiative themselves. So before organists and others today talk about the Orgelbewegung, they perhaps first need to undertake an extensive exploration of just what this movement (or movements) really was (were) before referring to such and such an instrument as representative of that movement. Unfortunately I am not convinced that anyone has yet undertaken a really comprehensive study of the movement. The oft quoted paper by Lawrence Phelps, for example, does not seem to mention Jahnn at all. It seems that studies of various aspects of the movement are scattered in books, articles and theses across the academic world, but that no-one has yet attempted a major thorough-going account. If anyone knows of one I should be most grateful if they would let me know!
  4. As I recall, this discussion was originally about attendances at organ recitals. Most organ recitals are held in places of worship, and attendance is subject to the organisers reaching those who may be interested in listening to organ music and convincing them that the experience will be worthwhile. Since the vast majority of the population do not have any idea what a pipe organ is, they are unlikely to want to attend an organ recital. Outside the hardcore devotees there has to be some special factor which will persuade them to attend. One of those factors can be the local community’s relationship with their local parish church, even if they are not regular worshippers. Spain is a case in point. A few years ago I attended the inauguration of a newly restored baroque organ in the town of Nava del Rey, near Valladolid. The recital was given by one of Spain/s leading organists, Juan de la Rubia. The church was packed to the gills. I would estimate the audience numbered around 1000. The population of Nava del Rey is 2100. Whole families attended. There were even babies in prams! https://www.joaquinlois.com/en/reinaugurado-el-organo-de-nava-del-rey/ The situation of organs and organists in Spain is far, far worse than in the UK. Many organs were destroyed during the Civil War, and there must be thousands of old instruments literally rotting in churches across the country. Organists are rarely paid. So how does a church suddenly magic a large audience for an organ recital out of thin air? The answer, I think, lies in the relationship between the community and the Church in Spain. Whilst there is a continuing anti-clerical tendency amongst a minority of the population, Spanish community and culture are still entwined with religious festivals, processions and fiestas. If the local parish priest wants to promulgate a particular project, he can call upon an army of volunteers to publicise it, largely by word of mouth and the grapevine. (That, incidentally, is why Spanish funerals can be attended by hundreds, even though burials normally take place the day after the deceased passed away). Attendance at the organ recital in Nava del Rey was probably due as much to civic pride and a sense of obligation as to a love of organ music. Spanish church attendance has fallen substantially in recent decades, but the masses will still turn out for special occasions. Those ties between the church and the local community still exist in many countries. In Germany, people pay a percentage of their taxes to the Catholic or Lutheran churches unless they opt out. During a recent stay in the Naples region of Italy I was astonished at the reverence still paid to the church by the local community, so much so that many were prepared to attend mass every day during May in honour of the Virgin Mary. Those ties used to exist in this country. No longer. Few people in the UK have any idea what a parish priest is, or who he or she is, let alone an organ. Decades of political correctness have indoctrinated the population with the idea that Christianity is a weird cult and that anyone who professes their faith is a threat to society. Indeed, I have heard countless church organists proudly proclaiming that that they are atheists! Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Little wonder that when the moment comes, and a church and an organist have organised an organ recital, trying to drum up an audience is like shouting into the wind.
  5. I would contend that, given the right organ and the right acoustic, this is refuted by the first page (notably bars 5 and 11) of the Final of Vierne’s Third Symphony alone.
  6. Yet it is precisely the Proms which present another image of classical music in this country. In 2010 there was an average audience of 4,000 for each of the 76 concerts held in the Albert Hall. Were the BBC to engage an artist such as Olivier Latry at a normal evening Prom start time of 7.30, and publicise the concert appropriately, and then broadcast it on TV, they could do an unparalleled service to the cause of organ music. A source of great mystery to me is why our august organ institutions, to one of which I pay £110 per year in subscriptions, carry so little weight in this regard. I do not blame the concert going community in this country, I blame the classical musical establishment. They seem to have decided that the organ is a rather niche and slightly sinister instrument with unwelcome religious associations, unworthy of comparison with ‘mainstream’ instruments, such as the piano or violin. Other countries have recently invested huge sums in new, state of the art concert halls with massive and extremely expensive organs that inspire and entrall. Perhaps if and when we finally get our new London world class concert hall we will also get an organ which will hold its own with those in Paris and Hamburg.
  7. “A fantastic night for the Brooklyn Diocese: Dedicatory Recital played by Olivier Latry On October 18, 2013 Olivier Latry played the dedicatory recital after Bishop Nicholas Anthony Di Marzio (The Seventh Bishop of the Brooklyn Diocese) blessed the organ. Olivier Latry is the organist at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. He is one of the greats of the great organists of our time. This organ recital was attended by over 750 paying people. Some people even flew in from Europe and many came from all over the country. They believed in the parish. Many contributed many times over the years and wanted to be part of this pipe organ’s rebirth. None would miss it for the world.” It can be done!
  8. I actually find it utterly bizarre that the BBC should have organised this organ recital on a Sunday morning, in the full knowledge that literally thousands of church organists up and down the land would give their eye teeth to attend a recital by Olivier Latry, which they might have done for £5 if they had been free to do so. In view of the recent fire at Notre Dame it is even more reprehensible. I’m afraid, though, that the BBC is an enemy of all things organ and Christian. Any organ recital at the Proms is an extremely rare event, in spite of the fact that they have an enormous and powerful instrument worth millions in situ. I detest the BBC and all its works. The sooner the licence fee is abolished and replaced with a subscription service the better. I will then spend my £150 on an annual trip to Paris to hear great organs played live by great organists. And for £10 a month I can hear whattever music I want, when I want, with a subscription to Apple Music or the like.
  9. If my memory serves me correctly, there is an Aria by Rawsthorne in this volume: https://www.kevinmayhew.com/148-interludes.html
  10. https://lyon.catholique.fr/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Document-officiel-nomination-organistes.pdf The above document makes it clear that, in the diocese of Lyons at least, it is the parish which employs the organist and which is responsible for remunerating him or her.
  11. Who pays the organists in France? (If they are paid at all!)
  12. I agree wholeheartedly with Vox Humana regarding tempo. When learning a new piece I usually feel the need, after I have learnt the notes, to listen to as many different recordings as I can, something which is now quite straightforward with a subscription to a service like Apple Music. I am nearly always surprised by the range of tempos. In a few cases, a piece may be played by the fastest player at almost twice the speed of the slowest. I often wonder if it was actually possible to play Bach at the tempi adopted by many current performers, given the accounts in 18th century literature of the heaviness and stiffness of the action of many organs then.
  13. A mouth controlled device already exists. It is used by parachutists to take photos. You plug it into an Airturn page turner. The device is placed between the teeth and you bite it to turn the page. I’ve got one and it works. It’s useful for home recording. I wouldn’t want to use it in church or for a recital as it becomes wearing after a while and you would look ridiculous.
  14. The Ovation has its origin in Classical Antiquity. It came second only to a Triumph, granted to returning victorious generals. Whilst the Bible gives us authority to praise God with clapping, singing and the playing of musical instruments, there seems to be no biblical justification for doing the same for visiting organists in a church. The following article from the New York Times gives an interesting insight into the origin and nature of the modern standing ovation: https://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/21/theater/theater-the-tyranny-of-the-standing-ovation.html
  15. Colin, you may already be aware of this paper which reproduces and translates every known 18th century quote relating to J.S. Bach’s preferences regarding temperament. http://www.huygens-fokker.org/docs/Kroesbergen_Bach_Temperament.pdf Particularly interesting is the evidence that Werkmeister changed his opinions about temperament and at the end of his life had come to prefer equal temperament.
×
×
  • Create New...