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Everything posted by davidh

  1. Here's one unusual one; a video on which the organ blower is seen, but not the organist. A fine performance of Bach's Little Fugue, BWV 578, played by Willem Tanke, with a beautifully clear organ tone and very clear contrapuntal lines. ... and another unusual one. The organ in the small Dutch town of Zuidwolde is to be restored. The children of the village, led by the Mayor, process from the local organ builder's premises a few hundred yards away, to the church, and return to the workshop carrying the pipes.
  2. Like at least one other member of this forum, I have booked for an organ tour of Holland next week. I now have flight tickets and Eurostar tickets as well, so I should get there, and perhaps even get home again afterwards. I hadn't considered the possibility of the organs being silenced for that week. Perhaps the hand-blown ones will still work, even if the electric blowers are turned off for fear of pumping too much dust into the works.
  3. Is this site still working for you? The screen comes up as before, but on my computer the sound stream is not found, so no music! One theory is that the server can handle only a limited number of listeners, and that it has become (deservedly) too popular for its own good.
  4. The Quaker movement began at a time when the end of the world was expected, and because there was a great sense of urgency about evangelism, there was no time for music, and until the early 1900's music was not merely absent from worship, but Quakers were expected to have nothing to do with it. One of the reasons advanced that to be good at playing an instrument it was necessary to spend a lot of time practising, and it was not good for young people to sit still while they did this - forgetting that they were expected to sit still in silent Quaker meetings several times each week. At a Quaker school in Lewes music was forbidden, but in the 1860's, if parents wished it, their children went from the school to a music teacher over the road. Between 1850 and 1880 many of the senior Quakers were great philanthropists, but "conspicuously absent" from fund-raising events which included musical performances. In 1883 the Clerk of Lewes Meeting started a branch of the YMCA and was allowed to use the meeting room for this purpose until it was discovered that they had brought a harmonium into the building, and the Clerk was required to write a minute agreeing that this would never happen again. In 1915 the Cadbury Family employed Harrison & Harrison to build an organ in the Quaker Meeting House, a gift to the Bournville Village Trust to be used by other denominations which had no church of their own in the village, and it is still used for practice and recitals. In the 20th century many Quakers took up music as a career, including Paul Steinitz who founded the London Bach Society.
  5. My thanks to Bazuin for his comments. I would appreciate a little more information about the "concept of the professional organist" which some churches lack. How does this differ from the situation in the UK? There are many "stichtings" which raise money for the preservation of particular historic instruments, and which participate with others in arranging many organ recitals. Their horizens don't seem to stretch beyond their localities. Many of them have arranged recording sessions, valuable records of the instruments, and in my experience, usually excellent performances. When the organist puts on a performance, a few of these will be put out for members of the audience to buy, but that is often the only location at which they can be found. A few will mention them on a website, but with no facilities for remote purchase, not even Paypal. There are recitals which, in the UK, would be considered "classical" and others, consisting almost entirely of improvisations on popular hymns, which in the UK would appeal to the "theatre organ" clientele. (I have a DVD of John Propitius improvising at the Martinikerk, Bolsward, which provides ravishing examples of the tone-colours that this organ can produce, but did there really need to be so much use of the tremulant?) On the other hand, there are some excellent evangelists for the Dutch organ. Johan Stolk, the Secretary of the Dutch Historic Organ Society has organised annual tours in the last five years, with another one to take place this April, which have included Alkmaar, Amsterdam, Haarlem, Purmerend, Harderwijk, Amersfoort, Zwolle, Kampen, Zutphen, Utrecht, Bolsward, Leens, Nijkerk and ‘s Hertogenbosch. This year the tour is based in Groningen and we are due to visit several of the organs on the multimedia set that you recommended. He also assisted with Michael Barone's tour of the Netherlands recently.
  6. After several visits to the Netherlands I am beginning to appreciate the quality of their instruments, and to discover how much new music is composed and improvised there. Unfortunately the Dutch seem to think that no one outside of their country is likely to be interested, except in the well-known instruments such as at Haarlem, Alkmaar and Zwolle. It's possible, with a little knowledge of Dutch and a lot of persistence to find out what is available there, and to buy some sheet music and recordings over the internet, but this only scratches the surface. This new internet radio channel makes it easier for people outside of that country to experience more of the sound of these instruments and the music created by Dutch organists.
  7. Following their very successful multimedia pack about organs in the Groningen area, Fugue State Films http://www.fuguestatefilms.co.uk/projects.html have just completed three new projects, "The Elusive English Organ" and "Virtuoso Music", twentieth century music from Bridlington Priory, which I haven't seen yet, and "The Art of Fugue / Desert Fugue" which I received a few days ago. George Ritchie and Christopher Wolff discuss the Art of Fugue, followed by a discussion with two organ builders about the sort of organ best suited for the music, which, they conclude, to their satisfaction (and I am ready to be convinced) is an organ of the kind which they built for the Pinnacle Presbyterian Church in the desert town of Scottsdale, Arizona. George Ritchie speaks of how he was a student of Walcha. He had prepared a chorale prelude in four voices, and Walcha told him to omit the soprano line, to play the alto and bass lines, while singing the tenor line. It's therefore not surprising that on the two accompanying CDs he plays the 14th Fugue in its incomplete version and then plays it again with Walcha's completion. Christopher Wolff argues that the Fugue was not incomplete - when composing a fugue with four subjects, and two of them inverted in the final section, he could only have done it by working out the closing section first, so it was not "unfinished" but rather the finish was written first and got lost before publication. The DVD ends with a demonstration and explanation of each of the contrapuncti, in total nearly two hours. Any talk like this has to face the question of what level it should be aimed at. It's my guess that the readers of this forum will not have any difficulty following it, and may perhaps learn a thing or two. My only criticism is that when a few bars of music are shown on the screen and attention is drawn to one bar, the bar numbers displayed often begin AFTER the barline at the end of the bar and continue under the next bar. It's very off-putting until you realise that it is the way that it has been done. The Art of Fugue is a problem for any recording studio, as it won't fit onto a single CD, but would be very sparse on its own if spread over two CDs. We therefore get, as well, several chorale preludes, some canons and the Canonic Variations on Vom Himmel hoch. The accompanying booklet gives all of the registrations used for the Art of Fugue, but not for the extras. Very good value at the introductory price of £24.99 (and I didn't get any commission for writing this review). David Hitchin
  8. This has been discussed at some length on other lists. There are several factors to consider: * The V&A is primarily interested in the instruments as pieces of furniture and examples of decoration. * It seems that access for study is limited. * The instruments are rarely played - which is good from a conservation point of view, but it would be nice to hear them sometimes. * They are kept in better conditions (climate control, protection from the public) than instruments in some other collections. * They are all at one location rather than scattered. * Only some are on display, and some in storage. Few of these factors are entirely good or bad on their own. Its a case of balancing the swings against the roundabouts.
  9. "The Registration of Baroque Organ Music" by Barbara Owen may be helpful. It includes details of some Italian organs as late as 1831, at which time many of the organs had similar characteristics to much earlier ones. The first distinctive feature is that all ranks can be drawn independently, i.e. instead of a "mixture" stopknob which draws several ranks together, each of the ranks has its own knob. So you might make a chorus with pipes at 8', 4', 2 2/3', 2', 1 3/5', 1 1/3', 1', 2/3', 1/2', 1/3', 1/4'. The second is that the earlier vox humanas were not reed stops, but just a rank of 8' principals, slightly detuned and drawn with a normal principal for a celeste or unda maris effect. I haven't heard many Italian organs live, but I have heard many recordings, and thought that the distinctive sounds could only be obtained on real Italian instruments. I changed my mind when I heard a young Italian giving a recital on the organ at the University of Sussex http://www.npor.org.uk/cgi-bin/Rsearch.cgi...ec_index=N15384 and I was astonished to hear good approximations to the real thing. I don't know what stop combinations were used to achieve this.
  10. I don't know what you should be aiming for, but more knowledgeable contributors may have some suggestions if they know that the book contains organ music from the 18th Century and early 19th Century by Anfossi, Corbisiero, Cotumacci, Fenaroli, Furno, Leo, Piccini, Sigismondo, Speranza, Valente, and Zingarelli
  11. In 2008 it was awarded a Historic Organ Certificate Grade II*. I wonder if it is still in use. It doesn't seem to get a mention or a picture on the church's website. David
  12. It's for real! The front cover bears the word "Music" and has a design with a treble clef on a wavy 9-line stave. The back cover is labelled, "Music Notes - Manuscript paper for inspiration and composition". The maker is "Paper Place B76 1RN". Friends who know something about music might perhaps have bought it as a joke, but I think that they were just not aware of its unconventional nature. Thanks for the thought about hand-bells.
  13. In the case of the Spanish music, there may be an explanation for it. Some of the repertoire originated on the vihuela - an instrument like a guitar, but with double strings - and it was transferred to keyboards, including harpsichord, clavichord and organ with minimum changes. On the vihuela a long note may continue sounding on one string while passages including the same note can be played independently on another string. When transferred to keyboard there has to be some compromise. Even music which originated on the organ needs some work-arounds. Large stretches possible with a short octave can't be done with the hands, and need the odd insertion from the pedals. The split keyboards, allowing different registrations in the treble and bass, can be simulated on modern organs by the use of two manuals, but there are cases where one hand spanned the break in a way which doesn't permit the same stretch on two keyboards.
  14. My friends gave me a strange manuscript book for Christmas. The hard cover simply says "Music" and it contains about 100 pages of manuscript paper. Each page has just four large staves - each of them with only four lines. I doubt if it was intended for plainchant or bass guitar, and I wonder if this was a non-musician's mistake at the printers, not realising that conventional music is written on 5-line staves.
  15. Yes, quavers! Thank you for the useful suggestion. I'm now getting to know music by Cabezon, Heredia, Correa de Arauxo and Pablo Bruna. Wonderful music, not too difficult for an amateur, and a useful reminder that there was interesting Spanish music long before the trompeta real became popular.
  16. There are two points in Cabezon's "Diferencias sobre la Gallarda Milanesa" where I would welcome advice. See http://www.hitchin.plus.com/Cabezon/ In the first case there is D held for a semibreve, while a scale from B flat to A in semiquavers passes through it. There would be no problem if the top notes were played on one manual, and the lower notes on another (if one could stretch enough, the aid of the pedals probably being inappropriate). I suspect that this was intended to be playable on a single-manual organ, so how would it be done? In the second extract there is a similar problem, apparently requiring a large stretch. Any suggestions, please?
  17. See http://www.dutchorgantours.nl/ which fortunately (or otherwise, depending on who you are) is now fully booked for players next April. There have been five similar tours in earlier years, of which I attended the last three. The maximum group size has been about 18, with half or dozen or so players in the group. Watch the adverts in Organists' Review, the August or November editions next year, in the hope that there will be another in 2011. David Hitchin
  18. It's worth looking at (and listening to) http://pipedreams.publicradio.org/
  19. I think that you are right. The description certainly fits, and it was restored recently by Edskes, the narrator on the DVD. I will be visiting that organ next year, and hope (a) that the action is visible and ( that there is someone knowledgeable who can explain this mystery.
  20. Here are some pictures. http://tinyurl.com/y85p399
  21. I thought that perhaps I should have been clearer when I posed my question, so I have gone back and looked at the video more carefully - and now I am more confused. This is the magnificent DVD which comes with the multimedia pack about the organ in the Martinikerk in Groningen and the organs in surrounding towns and villages which throw light on it; see http://www.mander-organs.com/discussion/in...mp;hl=groningen One of the "chapters" on the DVD is about the 1698 Arp Schnitger in the Nieuw Scheemda Hervormde Kerk. Bernhardt Edskes talks about Schnitger's design of the organ front, and interspersed between shots of the front pipes are pictures of a tracker action, illustrating how the roller boards shift the tracker movement sideways from the position of the key to the position of the pipe. Anyone who didn't pay careful attention (as I didn't, first time) might conclude that they are shots of the front and back of the same instrument. At the end of the chapter, Edskes comments that all of the action is original; that after 300 years nothing has needed to be replaced and the touch is as good as anyone could wish. So, the pictures of the trackers, rollers and and roller arms, which are obviously very new, are from another instrument altogether. These are all of bright clear new wood with bright brass links. It appears that the arms at each end of the roller all have two holes in the arm, at a very rough guess, about 3cm apart. But why two holes?
  22. I have just been viewing a Dutch video of a Baroque organ, which has what must be a replacement tracker action. I would have expected each arm on a roller board to have a single hole through which the connection to the tracker would be threaded. In this case the arms have two holes, so the tracker could be hooked to the one nearer to the roller, or the further one. This would obviously give a choice of leverage. However, surely the motion would have been designed from the start to hang the tracker in one of the positions. Could these be arms put together from standard kit parts, or is there another explanation for the two holes?
  23. There may be a little confusion here and earlier in this thread. A DVD may be recorded in PAL or NTSC, and most recent DVD players can handle both. The only limitation is with some DVD recorders which only work in one mode at a time, so you can't play back an NTSC DVD when the machine has been set to record a PAL transmission. Regional coding is different. When you buy a DVD with region codes 0 or 2 they will work in players bought within Europe, but region code 1 DVDs intended to be sold in the American market will not.
  24. And some might say too few! It depends on which ones you are thinking about.
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