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Everything posted by davidh

  1. I have just found this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8-oI3NaUeE which claims to be "A vocal arrangement by C.P.E. Bach of his father's unfinished final contrapunctus from Art of Fugue. Unusual and affecting." It's quite pleasant, a la Swingle Singers style, but what are the words, did CPEB really make this arrangement, and if so, where is it published?
  2. If you have time, search the Dutch repertoire. Improvisations (often available later as sheet music transcriptions) and variations on Psalm tunes (the Geneva Psalms) are a substantial part of any Dutch recitalist's repertoire. Some are very clearly developments of JSB's methods, and others verge on theatre organ style. Many can be heard on the 24-hour 365-day website http://www.musicareligiosa.nl/defaultOrgel.aspx Look out especially for Jan Zwart, Feike Asma (remarkable perhaps for the variety of his work in this area), John Propitius and many others, according to your taste. If you would like more details, then PM me.
  3. This moves us on to another set of common beliefs which, whether true or not, do not rest on any positive evidence. First of all, the ox and ass around the manger, the conventional nativity scene, which was perhaps first dreamed of by Francis of Assisi. The magi as "kings", unless the verse about "kings to thy rising" is assumed to apply to them. The assumption that the magi went to the stable. What weight should one place on Greek words for "baby" and "young child", and the statement that the magi went to the "house", not the inn. What about the year of the birth, estimated by Dionysius Exiguus? (Denis the Dwarf) Whether or not one assumes that the birth narratives are "gospel truth" or not, many beliefs about Christmas are much later traditions. So while we can be pretty sure about Christmas music, we can't be so sure of the words that go along with it.
  4. It depends whether you use the Julian or Gregorian calendar. Which was in use in London at the time?
  5. There has been some discussion recently of Buxtehude’s “elderly ugly daughter” and I have questioned on what evidence her “ugliness” has been assumed. There are other beliefs, positively stated in many books (most of which might have copied others without checking facts) which are based on assumption and not on firm evidence. So when did Handel die? A newspaper of the time announced his death on Good Friday, 13th April 1759. According to the New Grove he died at 8 am on Saturday 14th April . According to the Dictionary of National Biography “died at his home in Brook Street, Hanover Square, Westminster, about 8 a.m. on 14 April (Easter Saturday).” According to Stanley Sadie, “about eight o’clock in the morning”. According to Oxford Music Online, “He died at ‘a little before Eight o’clock’ on 14 April.“ According to Edward Dent, he “died during the night between the 13th and 14th of April.” Who should we believe? The newspaper was premature; he was failing rapidly and expected to die during the day, and the paper, not wishing to miss a scoop, announced his death prematurely. Yet perhaps it was accurate. He took leave of his friends on Friday morning, and said that he desired to see nobody except the doctor, the apothecary, and James Smyth. At 7 o’clock in the evening he took leave of Smyth and said “We shall meet again”, but told his servant not to let him “come to him any more, for that he had now done with the world.” His servant was the last person to see him alive that evening and apparently the servant went to see him next at 8 am on Saturday and found him dead. Did he die before midnight, on the 13th, or in the early morning of the 14th? So, Edward Dent who cautiously wrote ““died during the night between the 13th and 14th of April.” is the only writer who did not go beyond the known facts.
  6. We know nothing of Handel's "diet", as he jealously guarded his privacy. Hamburgers, vegetables, or perhaps nothing at all. There has been a lot of speculation, and attempts to find clues about his sexuality from analyses of his work. They probably tell us more about the analysts than about Handel. Men have different preferences for women - some men prefer blondes - and the fact that one man finds a particular woman unattractive is no guarantee that another man might not find her very attractive. Buxtehude died on 9th May 1707. Johann Christian Schieferdecker was appointed on 23rd June to replace him, and so when he married Anna Margreta Buxtehude on 5th September he already had the job, and Buxtehude pére was not present to enforce any marriage condition. Perhaps JCS liked the look of her!
  7. It is known that one of the conditions for taking Buxtehude's place was that the successful candidate should marry his daughter. We know that she was still unmarried at the late age of 30. We know that Mattheson and Handel who considered the job visited Lubeck and left again very quickly. That the marriage condition is what drove them away is only speculation, as is the guess that she was unattractive.
  8. Then try http://www.raulprieto.com/index_pc.html which does seem to work.
  9. Here's an offering for the next volume: A local church celebrated Independence Day with some light-hearted organ duets. The two male organists told us that people who played duets had to be very close to each other, and said that they were married - but not to each other! One wife banged a dustbin lid to accompany the Liberty Bell. I attended with a friend who prefers greater formality. The next week we went to another concert and one of the two organists was selling tickets at the door. He recognised my friend (who did not recognise him) and asked him, "What did you think of the recital last week?" to which he got the reply, "It was mercifully short."
  10. A few days ago a new multimedia set of DVD, CD and booklet appeared about the Van Hagerbeer/Schnitger and Van Covelens organs in the Laurenskerk at Alkmaar. Anyone who has previously bought the products of Fugue State Films will need no further recommendation; this set is as good as any of its predecessors. The DVD begins with a 30 minute documentary of the Van Covelens organ of 1511, the oldest playable organ in the Netherlands (although some other organs contain some older pipes). Then 62 minutes on the larger organ, integrating religious, artistic, architectural and musical history to give a very comprehensive account. An interview with Piet Kee follows - it's good to see him and hear him well over 50 years since I first bought an LP of his playing at Alkmaar. Finally 60 minutes of demonstrations. The commentaries are in English and Dutch (with subtitles in English, Dutch and German). If in any way this DVD surpasses the earlier ones, it may be in the quality of the photography, for which one might credit those who filmed the production, or the quality of light in the buildings. The history covers some aspects of the organs which have been altered, and there are additional performances from the Pieterskerk in Leiden and the Nieuwe Kerk in Amsterdam which retain some features lost from Alkmaar. The CD is just 1 second short of 75 minutes with music from Sweelinck, van Noordt, Schuyt, Weckmann, JS Bach, Bastiaans and Piet Kee. The accompanying booklet of course lists the tracks, comments on the composers, gives the specifications and the registrations used. A demonstration clip may be found at http://youtu.be/Ik3hcTdmJdA and the set may be bought from http://www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk/shop/ (£31.50 in UK money)
  11. I suppose that one might ask whether the organ as built was the builder's ideal, or a compromise to fit the available space or budget. I see nothing wrong with adding new material that essentially completes the original ideal; players don't have to use the new material if they don't want, and with luck the additional pipes will not compromise the original action or the relationship of older pipes to their windchests. Modifying the choir may be a far more controversial matter. For those who read Dutch, or whose browser provides some sort of translation. see http://www.cathedralorgan.nl/site/index.cfm The bottom tab takes you to a summary in English. Otherwise search "Hooglandse Kerk Leiden" on this (the Mander) website. Part of the intention here is to complete what Willis would have done given the opportunity.
  12. I will just repeat a few lines that I posted some while ago: I am fortunate enough to quite frequently worship in other congregations, and I find the chatter before and after the service quite distracting, especially when the organist is annoying the talkers by playing music. It seems to me that either the organ music is mere entertainment, in which case it has no place in worship, or else it is a part of the worship and deserves to be treated as such. Few people would consider holding private conversations during the prayers, the bible readings or the sermons. If I were a member of the clergy (and I am sure many people are glad that I am not), I would certainly lay down the law on a lack of reverence in any part of the service.
  13. Dave replied with some plausible suggestions, although none of them solved the problem. I emailed Augsburg to ask if they had any copies left, or if they could supply a scan. Within less than two hours they had scanned their file copy for me and emailed the images, charging only 50 cents a page. Quite exceptional service.
  14. Thank you for the suggestion - I have emailed Dave.
  15. Does anyone know where I might obtain a copy of "Twelve Chorale Trios" by Ludwig Ernst Gebhardi (1787-1862)? They were published by Minneapolis : Augsburg Pub. House, [©1971]. While I am hoping to get the whole publication, my special interest is "Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan" David
  16. Try "Until I find you" by John Irving - from Amazon, where you will find a summary, or from other booksellers. A review says, "John Irvin's new novel UNTIL I FIND YOU covers the life of the protagonist Jack Burns from the age of four until his early 30's. The illegitimate son of William (R.C.O.), a church organist and lover of tattoos (an ink addict), and "Daughter Alice," a fulltime tattoo artist-- her speciality is a tattoo called "Rose of Jericho"-- and sometime prostitute, Jack spends over 800 pages searching for his absent father." A rather grubby story, but there are many references to visits to organs in many churches in different countries. "He would go on until his body was a sheet of music and every inch was a note ...".
  17. If you can't beat them, join them! There are plenty of carillon pieces, not just the dreaded Vierne. Perhaps Lebegue's "Les cloches".
  18. Contact http://www.sibelius.com/cgi-bin/helpcenter/chat/chat.pl?groupid=3 where there are many people who can probably help you.
  19. Provided with a basic music education, I was taught that it was usually good manners for a piece to return to the home key as it closed, with the assurance that listeners with a good sense of pitch would feel uncomfortable if it ended anywhere else. I have now heard a lot of Dutch hymn singing, with the organist raising the last verse by a semitone, improvisations doing the same, and published versions of improvisations confirming that they really did end a semitone high. Now this adds nicely to the excitement of the build-up at the end, but it seemed to me a rather cheap and unworthy effect. Recently I was given a book, with a title which sounds like a post-mortem report, "The Organs of J S Bach", and I learn that in Altenburg he started a hymn in D minor, raised it to E flat minor on the second verse and finished with the third verse in E minor. A witness at the time said "only a Bach could do this and only the organ in Altenburg. Not all of us are or have that." (Presumably the limitations on many organs of the time were due to the temperament which would not work in all of those three keys. The organ there is now tuned in Neidhardt I, but the original temperament is not known. Of course no such problem exists with equal temperament.) How many organists elsewhere do this, and is the practice common?
  20. Don't shoot the tuner - he is doing his best. The stiff strings of a piano guarantee enough inharmonicity to ensure that the instrument is not in tune with itself. According to simple acoustic theory, an organ pipe should not be in tune with itself, either. A physical pipe length is constant but different harmonics imply different end corrections, so should not be perfectly in tune with each other. Fortunately a more sophisticated theory takes into account phase locking which reduces inharmonicity to a very low level.
  21. UK television viewers have had the opportunity to see the first two parts of this series. Howard Goodall has an exceptional ability to communicate some of the technicalities of music in simple and easily understood terms, and I can easily forgive the excessive use of graphics (probably not his fault) and the appalling electronic keyboard which he uses for demonstrations. A simple account of some difficult topics can't take account of the more subtle nuances, but even so I have to disagree with some of his opinions, and note one definite error. He said carefully that the "selling point of the piano, making it different from the harpsichords, clavichords, spinets and virginals was its ability to play soft and loud, that is "piano e il forte". Accurate but misleading; the clavichord was never "loud", but it was capable of a wide dynamic range, perhaps wider than that of the early piano, although at a lower level. In explaining temperament he said that Western Music needed "at least" (careful words) 19 subdivisions of the octave, and that close sharps and flats are subsumed into the best approximation on a single key. To illustrate this he showed a diagram of a set of 19 organ pipes on which an ascending 19-division scale was played. Unfortunately these were labelled C natural, D flat, C sharp, D natural, E flat, D sharp, E natural, E sharp, F natural, etc whereas D flat in 19-division temperament is HIGHER than C sharp, so the series should be C natural, C sharp, D flat, D natural, D sharp, E flat, E natural. E sharp, F flat, etc Few modern scholars would now maintain the old view that Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier was intended for equal temperament, but Goodall said that it was the most conclusive evidence that equal temperament worked. I am not convinced either by his statement that it made easier for different instruments to play together in tune. As for our organ, equal temperament results in mutations that clash with the harmonics from a fundamental note, and equal temperament resulted in the death of the traditional English Cornet stop. He did say, very wisely, that we now all hear music through the filter, or some would say "distortion" of equal temperament, and ... everyone now hears music as "in tune" or "off key" as, say, everyone in 1600. David Hitchin
  22. That will certainly put you on your best behaviour for the next few weeks.
  23. Fugue State Films have done it again - another multi-media pack fully up to the standards of everything that they have done before. The set includes:- DVD1: The Genius of Cavaillé-Coll. It follows his life through 3 periods, 1811-1840, 1840-1862, and 1862-1869, in 157 minutes of video, where the history of his life is very much the history of the organs that he built and the composers that he nurtured. DVD2: The Organs of Cavaillé-Coll. 202 minutes covering 15 of his instruments. DVD3: Apres Cavaillé-Coll. 140 minutes of composed music and improvisations inspired by his instruments. CD1 and CD2. More than 70 minutes each, presenting performances on each of the instruments which appeared on DVD2. A 80-page A5 booklet with specifications of each of the instruments. The set costs £64.50 for UK buyers - see http://www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk/ for more details and a video trailer, or try youtube cavaille-coll. The company needed £80,000 to fund the making of the set, and many people subscribed in advance to make it possible. It was an excellent investment! Last year "Tempo Primo" lamented the prospect of Farnborough Abbey being included in the project. Unless I have missed something, his fears have not been realised.
  24. Organ tutors warn against playing without appropriate shoes, but I have seen well respected performers wearing what seem to be quite unsuitable ones, for example Michel Chapuis in his deck shoes. Willem Tanke in his Bach recordings http://www.willemtanke.com/Bach_organworks.html and his Messiaen DVD seems NEVER to wear shoes, yet he plays with great precision and sensitivity. Is playing in one's socks really inadvisable?
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