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The British And North German Baroque Organs After Ww Ii


kropf
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Hello all!

 

The region "Altes Land" - the small area between Hamburg and Stade, on the left side of the Elbe river, containing known instruments mostly made or rebuilt by Schnitger, e. g. Steinkirchen, Borstel, Neuenfelde, Mittelnkirchen a. o. - is preparing an exhibition about its organ culture.

During research we found out, that the well-known interest, which was brought to all these instruments between the netherlands and Hamburg/Luebeck for decades, has very early and important roots in the english speaking world, too.

Geraint Jones made recordings for HMV here, and beside recordings from nazi Germany's radio in the late 30ies (documented, but not preserved) and the recordings by Walter Kraft and Helmut Walcha, we have these Geraint Jones things from the UK and the recordings of e. g. Edward Power Biggs from th US (btw, the record sleeves presented as partially unknown photographs and views to our instruments here...!).

I want to ask our community - and perhaps merely the members of higher age - if there are any "theories" or findings, why english or american organists chose THESE organs for recordings, though they were not the only baroque organs available at that time.

Were there specific members of the british troops in North Germany after the war, who had interest in organ culture and asked around where to find interesting instruments in the countryside (as most of the larger inner cities have been destroyed) or anything like this?

Perhaps John Pike Mander knows something via his teacher Rudolf von Beckerath...?

Any contributions welcome, and please accept my apologies for not checking posts more often than every twelve hours... B)

 

thanks and greetings from Neuenfelde

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

 

 

p.s. Updates on the Airbus runway extension case later, certainly after EADS Airbus will finally announce its restructuration plans....

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Hello all!

 

The region "Altes Land" - the small area between Hamburg and Stade, on the left side of the Elbe river, containing known instruments mostly made or rebuilt by Schnitger, e. g. Steinkirchen, Borstel, Neuenfelde, Mittelnkirchen a. o. - is preparing an exhibition about its organ culture.

During research we found out, that the well-known interest, which was brought to all these instruments between the netherlands and Hamburg/Luebeck for decades, has very early and important roots in the english speaking world, too.

Geraint Jones made recordings for HMV here, and beside recordings from nazi Germany's radio in the late 30ies (documented, but not preserved) and the recordings by Walter Kraft and Helmut Walcha, we have these Geraint Jones things from the UK and the recordings of e. g. Edward Power Biggs from th US (btw, the record sleeves presented as partially unknown photographs and views to our instruments here...!).

I want to ask our community - and perhaps merely the members of higher age - if there are any "theories" or findings, why english or american organists chose THESE organs for recordings, though they were not the only baroque organs available at that time.

Were there specific members of the british troops in North Germany after the war, who had interest in organ culture and asked around where to find interesting instruments in the countryside (as most of the larger inner cities have been destroyed) or anything like this?

Perhaps John Pike Mander knows something via his teacher Rudolf von Beckerath...?

Any contributions welcome, and please accept my apologies for not checking posts more often than every twelve hours... B)

 

thanks and greetings from Neuenfelde

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

p.s. Updates on the Airbus runway extension case later, certainly after EADS Airbus will finally announce its restructuration plans....

 

 

========================

 

What a fascinating question!

 

I really have no idea, but one thing I do know, is that Dr Albert Schweitzer was a regular visitor to the UK and made recordings on British organs; of which I think I have at least one. I'm also fairly certain that it was an HMV recording.

 

Now I think that would safely pre-date the Geraint Jones series, (of which I still have some mono tapes), because I seem to recall that I was about 12 when I was given, as a Christmas Gift, that Schweitzer recording, whereas I seem to recall that I was about 15 or 16 when the BBC broadcasts by Geraint Jones were broadcast; making it about 1965/6 at a rough guess.

 

I'll give it more thought, but I'll hazard a guess and suggest that this is the link, and also, that I believe Schweitzer was a regular visitor to America, was he not?

 

MM

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just to clarify - the topic header should read/mean:

The British [visitors to North Germany] and THE North German Baroque Organs after World War II - but I think everybody got it right.... B)

KBK

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========================

 

What a fascinating question!

 

I really have no idea, but one thing I do know, is that Dr Albert Schweitzer was a regular visitor to the UK and made recordings on British organs; of which I think I have at least one. I'm also fairly certain that it was an HMV recording.

 

Now I think that would safely pre-date the Geraint Jones series, (of which I still have some mono tapes), because I seem to recall that I was about 12 when I was given, as a Christmas Gift, that Schweitzer recording, whereas I seem to recall that I was about 15 or 16 when the BBC broadcasts by Geraint Jones were broadcast; making it about 1965/6 at a rough guess.

 

I'll give it more thought, but I'll hazard a guess and suggest that this is the link, and also, that I believe Schweitzer was a regular visitor to America, was he not?

 

MM

 

I agree, a most interesting question. I would have thought the early recordings by Helmut Walcha, starting in 1947, were the strongest influence. I remember how inspired I was at the freshness and clarity of the Schnitger organs in Cappel and Lübeck, that seemed to bring out so much more from the music than the recordings we had previously heard. On a more trivial point, it was also much easier to travel from England to the towns of Northern Germany and the Netherlands than some other regions at that time.

 

JC

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========================

 

What a fascinating question!

 

I really have no idea, but one thing I do know, is that Dr Albert Schweitzer was a regular visitor to the UK and made recordings on British organs; of which I think I have at least one. I'm also fairly certain that it was an HMV recording.

 

Now I think that would safely pre-date the Geraint Jones series, (of which I still have some mono tapes), because I seem to recall that I was about 12 when I was given, as a Christmas Gift, that Schweitzer recording, whereas I seem to recall that I was about 15 or 16 when the BBC broadcasts by Geraint Jones were broadcast; making it about 1965/6 at a rough guess.

 

I'll give it more thought, but I'll hazard a guess and suggest that this is the link, and also, that I believe Schweitzer was a regular visitor to America, was he not?

 

MM

 

============================

 

 

It's amazing what a search on the internet will do when you choose specific names, and I started off with that of Ralph Downes and then Geraint Jones.

 

For instance, when I saw the names of Geraint Jones and Ian Bell linked on one website, I got quite excited; only to discover that they are England cricketers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

After a stiff whisky and soda, and horrible memories of being dragged to cricket matches and made to play the infernal game (I got knocked out cold by a modestly-fast ball from Freddy Truman), I recovered my composure, and searchethed anew.

 

It looks as if the link we are looking for is a combination of Geraint Jones and 'The British Council' in 1949.

 

Here follow the words of Geraint Jones himself:-

 

In September 1949 I was dispatched to Germany by the British Council on a recital tour, one of many similar events designed to begin the process of restoring normal relations after the war. The first week of concerts ended in Hamburg, and Kenneth Bartlett, who was the British Council officer accompanying my trip, asked me what I would like to do over the weekend, there was a car available, etc.......

Thus began my acquaintance with the celebrated north German organ builder Arp Schnitger, as we explored the Altes Land, that part of Germany bordering the Elbe between Hamburg and Cuxhaven, home to beautiful half timbered small towns and villages with organs in profusion, many by the great Schnitger himself. Of all the instruments I played during that weekend the one at Steinkirchen, which had just been restored by Rudolph von Beckerath, was my favourite, and during the last days of the same year, and the first days of 1950, I was back there making recordings for the B.B.C._ the first of many such journeys I was to make all over Europe during the next thirty years. Bach's Passacaglia and Fugue in C minor, [see page 6], was recorded at this time by the B.B.C., and was heard by Walter Legge, then at the peak of his career, was acquired and released by E.M.I. The Steinkirchen recordings heard here were made in between January 1950 and February 1952, with no play back facilities nor possibility of editing; I have in fact never heard the bulk of these recordings until recently, an event which came as a severe shock_ it seemed inconceivable that my ideas on the music could have changed so much over the years !

Not that I think this is a matter for concern. In masterclasses in America I frequently encountered students who had been exposed to European visitors of the type that maintains there is only one correct way to play anything, a philosophy which is the basis of the authenticity craze currently bedevilling the performance of music written more than a hundred years ago. The exercise of a modicum of imagination usually reveals several possible interpretations of a piece of music which would not violate the canons of seventeenth and eighteenth century manuals of performance practice.

My devotion to these old organs has nothing to do with authenticity. It is due simply to the fact that for the first time I was able to hear what was written on the page. Listen on this disc to the inner parts in the fugues _ the lightly blown pipes sing and the textures are transparent. Moreover the over-fast non legato playing which was just about the only way to achieve any sensation of movement in a Bach allegro on a typical English organ was rendered unnecessary. The prompt speech of the un-nicked pipes of the old organs combined with mechanical key action provided control of nuances of phrasing and articulation which no amount of cajoling could conjure from the organs with which I had grown up.

The organ at Steinkirchen offered even greater hazards to the security of one's technique, especially for a player reared on the comfort of radiating and concave pedalboards. Its very wide, straight and seemingly convex pedalboard was bad enough, but worse, by far, the position of the unadjustable bench, which left me forever struggling not to fall forward and bang my head on the music desk. Moreover the recordings were made at the beginning of the year, and we were on the point of abandoning the project in the unheated church when the commanding officer of the occupying British army somehow procured some coal, and not only saved the day for us, but gave the village congregation their first warm service for a very long time.

 

I shall continue to pursue this a little, mainly for my own interest, but 'I think we may be on to something my dear Holmes.'

 

 

MM

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Hello all!

 

The region "Altes Land" - the small area between Hamburg and Stade, on the left side of the Elbe river, containing known instruments mostly made or rebuilt by Schnitger, e. g. Steinkirchen, Borstel, Neuenfelde, Mittelnkirchen a. o. - is preparing an exhibition about its organ culture.

During research we found out, that the well-known interest, which was

thanks and greetings from Neuenfelde

 

Karl-Bernhardin Kropf

 

The whole "Elbe-Weser-Winkel" or triangle is a lovely part of Germany, particularly in April/May, when all the fruit trees in the Altes Land are in blossom. It's mostly low-lying, with thatched, timbered cottages nestling behind the dykes. Stade is an attractive historic town with two quite magnificently restored 17-18c organs. I was fortunate to spend a year there in the late '60s and got to know many of the remarkable instruments of the region.

 

Ostfriesland, the area on the other side of the Weser stretching west to the Dutch border, has an equally rich organ heritage, of course.

 

This part of Germany was 'liberated' by the British, of course. Montgomery advanced as far east as the town of Wismar on the Baltic, but then, alas, pulled back 80kms as part of the boundary settlement with the Russians. Fortunately, the great Hanseatic city of Lübeck remained (just) in the British zone of occupation.

 

JS

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============================

 

 

Here follow the words of Geraint Jones himself:-

 

This is VERY VERY interesting - where did you get this quotation from?

 

Regarding John Carter's thoughts about Walcha's recordings as initiation to the organ world: Rowan West, organ builder originating from Australia, was moved to become organ builder by listening to these records! Today, he is a sought-after expert for restoration projects and historical inspired new organs, and has been living in Germany for many years now...

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This is VERY VERY interesting - where did you get this quotation from?

 

Regarding John Carter's thoughts about Walcha's recordings as initiation to the organ world: Rowan West, organ builder originating from Australia, was moved to become organ builder by listening to these records! Today, he is a sought-after expert for restoration projects and historical inspired new organs, and has been living in Germany for many years now...

=====================

 

 

Right here:-

 

http://www.amphion-recordings.com/phicd202.html

 

B)

 

MM

 

 

* The URL for this post has been edited to include the full script of the Geraint Jones details, which include additional notes from Mr Jones' wife about their travels to Germany.

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=====================

Right here:-

 

http://www.amphion-recordings.com/phicd202.html

 

B)

 

MM

* The URL for this post has been edited to include the full script of the Geraint Jones details, which include additional notes from Mr Jones' wife about their travels to Germany.

 

 

===========================

 

 

Do I get to play all the Schnitger organs for finding out this information?

 

Please!

 

:)

 

MM

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My devotion to these old organs has nothing to do with authenticity. It is due simply to the fact that for the first time I was able to hear what was written on the page. Listen on this disc to the inner parts in the fugues _ the lightly blown pipes sing and the textures are transparent. Moreover the over-fast non legato playing which was just about the only way to achieve any sensation of movement in a Bach allegro on a typical English organ was rendered unnecessary. The prompt speech of the un-nicked pipes of the old organs combined with mechanical key action provided control of nuances of phrasing and articulation which no amount of cajoling could conjure from the organs with which I had grown up.
The credo of the neo-Baroque in a nutshell. It almost seems an unfashionable statement today, but it's true (as a generalisation).
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"My devotion to these old organs has nothing to do with authenticity. It is due simply to the fact that for the first time I was able to hear what was written on the page. Listen on this disc to the inner parts in the fugues _ the lightly blown pipes sing and the textures are transparent. Moreover the over-fast non legato playing which was just about the only way to achieve any sensation of movement in a Bach allegro on a typical English organ was rendered unnecessary. The prompt speech of the un-nicked pipes of the old organs combined with mechanical key action provided control of nuances of phrasing and articulation which no amount of cajoling could conjure from the organs with which I had grown up." GJ

 

 

==================

 

The credo of the neo-Baroque in a nutshell. It almost seems an unfashionable statement today, but it's true (as a generalisation).

 

 

=======================

 

 

To use contemporary teen-speak, "I so understand this."

 

With just this type of voicing, and a mere eleven speaking-stops, other than when the heating-system broke down at Christmas, I can never recall a single day when I haven't approached the organ I play with a sense of excitement and eager anticipation: my association with it now covering 32 years (with breaks).

 

Whereas I would often choose to play Bach in detached style on less appropriate instruments, I tend to play Bach with much more legato on an organ best suited to it. It applies to almost anything, whether by Bruhns, Buxtehude or whoever, because I can hear ALL the music, and not just the outside parts. In another nutshell, it is the difference between modern string quartets, and a consort of Viols.

 

I'm sure I've previously mentioned a "road to Damascus" experience at the Martinikerk, Groningen, when I heard played an ever so stately "Jig Fugue" (whoever wrote it), and I was absolutely enthralled by the elegance of it; the energetic young blades on the dining table, kicking pewter-ware to the floor, replaced by aristocrats in fine clothes, with the ladies showing just a hint of bare ankle.

 

Then I heard the great G minor played at Aa-kerk, Groningen: smoothly, majestically and lyrically. It was absolutely overpowering in intensity, largely down to the stupendous sound of that instrument, but also due to the beautiful singing quality of the inner-parts.

 

It's reallly impossible to put it into words, but it is what I would describe as inner-depth and meaning.

 

I lose count of the number of times when, after a performance, I have just been rendered speechless, with a head just buzzing from the experience.

 

Does that not tell us something about the instruments, that performers (and presumably the composers of the day) feel it their duty to deliver music which is as special as the instrument on which it is played?

 

I guess that's why they loan Stradavari violins to the finest players.

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===========================

Do I get to play all the Schnitger organs for finding out this information?

 

Please!

 

:)

 

MM

 

 

Dear MM - of course you do! At least, if you mean a visit and not a concert invitation! So ask me off-list for details... :)

But I have to say, that everybody who does not steal or damage anything is welcome at our organs here. We have a friendly small institution - www.orgelakademie.de - which provides you with contact adresses and an interesting map, click the underligned locations for more info: (map of historic organs in the Elbe-Weser-Region) Sadly, the website is in German only...

 

But now back to the topic:

Dear Pierre Lauwers, may I quote from your off-list message to me? PW wrote:

The interest for Schnitger outside his area found a big help with Rudolf Von Beckerath "apprenticeship" (but was it really that?) with Victor Gonzalez in France. Together they created a synthesis organ which gathered french romantic and northern german traits. Now we see the results as far from both, of course; it was actually something else (worth preserving as anything else!) Gonzalez was a favorite with, among others, André Marchal. André Marchal who often played in recital in the U.S. on.....Holtkamp organs. Holtkamp as well as Gonzalez was influenced by what was believed then to be "Schnitger's practices". Whether Holtkamp or Gonzalez was first is not certain at all; I suggest you research who/ What influenced Holtkamp. (I do that anyway!) It must start with the 1921-26 Orgelbewegung (Holtkamp started about 1930).

A visit to the Beckerath Homepage shows, that Hans Henny Jahnn, important re-discoverer of North German historic organs and leader of the first restoration of Hamburg St. Jacobi in 1926, recommended Beckerath to turn to France to the workshop of Victor Gonzalez, where he arrived in January 1929. He was impressed by the know-how for tracker action, still available there. 2,5 years later he went to Frobenius in Copenhagen to work as a voicer (obviously to voice the large new organ of Copenhagen Cathedral), and in 1931 he returned to Paris to be shareholder of Gonzalez. 1936 he returned to Germany, worked as organ consultant and designed/voiced a first fine organ there (I played it one week ago - a piece of early mastership!). 1939 he moved to Berlin, was called to army service in 1941 and imprisoned by the US in 1945. He returned in May 1946 to Hamburg.

In 1946 he was asked to make documentations of scaling and more of historic organs in Niedersachsen, the province of Lower Saxony (then ranging from approx. Hannover to the North sea coast). This documentation is still one of the most important sources for restorations here in the region. 1949 he opened his own workshop.

[btw, just to add to the André Marchal issue: He is in the Neuenfelde guestbook, I just have to fin the entry again, but the book starts in 1954...]

So, to summarize:

 

Hans Henny Jahnn, well acquainted with the art of Schnitger and his predecessors, motivates Beckerath to work with Gonzalez. He developes the skills of historically influenced organ building. Originating from a well educated family, he might have had international contacts already then [HAS ANYBODY MORE INFORMATION?]. At least after his time as war prisoner he was able to communicate in English. Maybe he started making contacts to the US, who became imprortant for him later, already after 1945. Maybe he made contact with the British troops in Hamburg after his return perhaps to make interested officers learn about threatened historical organs in the destroyed city or who knows - all speculative...

When the British Council in 1949 arranges organ concerts with Geraint Jones and calls Kenneth Bartlett [DOES ANYBODY KNOW HIM AS ORGAN OR MUSIC LOVER?] to accompany him, Bartlett guides Jones to those organs, and Jones decides to make recordings there...

 

Dear community out there, what do you think? Is this the "British Root" to the high estimation of North German instruments after WW II?

 

Greetings, KBK

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Regarding the guestbook of the Hamburg-Neuenfelde Schnitger Organ, starting in 1954:

 

We have several entries from Arthur Howes, starting in 1954, visiting us with his Organ Institute (Andover?), and we have entries by Edward Power Biggs, who made his first recordings here in 1955.

I found out, that Fritz Heitmann, Cathedral Organist of Berlin (who grew up with playing the Schnitger Organ pf Hamburg-Ochsenwerder as a teenager and then studied with Karl Straube, Leipzig), toured through the US in 1939 and in 1950. It is documented that in 1950 he met E. P. Biggs and A. Howes, was privately invited by each of them. Maybe that he told them about the still preserved character and beauty of the countryside instruments listed in the start of this topic ("Altes Land" region)? Heitmann was in close contact with Hans Henny Jahnn either, and with Rudolf von Beckerath, who made, as a consultant before 1941, suggestions for rebuilding the large Sauer Organ of the Berliner Dom (as did Jahnn before - Jahnn "baroqueized" the small Ruckpositiv division).

A question to the readers: When did Arthur Howes start his important organ study tours to Europe? What or who influenced him?

 

many thanks, KBK

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Regarding the guestbook of the Hamburg-Neuenfelde Schnitger Organ, starting in 1954:

 

We have several entries from Arthur Howes, starting in 1954, visiting us with his Organ Institute (Andover?), and we have entries by Edward Power Biggs, who made his first recordings here in 1955.

I found out, that Fritz Heitmann, Cathedral Organist of Berlin (who grew up with playing the Schnitger Organ pf Hamburg-Ochsenwerder as a teenager and then studied with Karl Straube, Leipzig), toured through the US in 1939 and in 1950. It is documented that in 1950 he met E. P. Biggs and A. Howes, was privately invited by each of them. Maybe that he told them about the still preserved character and beauty of the countryside instruments listed in the start of this topic ("Altes Land" region)? Heitmann was in close contact with Hans Henny Jahnn either, and with Rudolf von Beckerath, who made, as a consultant before 1941, suggestions for rebuilding the large Sauer Organ of the Berliner Dom (as did Jahnn before - Jahnn "baroqueized" the small Ruckpositiv division).

A question to the readers: When did Arthur Howes start his important organ study tours to Europe? What or who influenced him?

 

many thanks, KBK

 

 

---------------------------------

 

 

I've been googling about a bit, and widening the search to include some of the key-names, but not a great deal is making sense at the moment.

 

However, one or two observations which may or may not have relevance to all this.

 

The tome "The Organ" by William Lesley Sumner was first printed in 1952; suggesting that his knowledge of Schnitger was known long before that when the draft was drawn up. I would have thought that a minimum of two-years of prior research would have been in order, which makes it 1950 at the latest, and possibly much earlier still.

 

How much earlier we cannot really know at this stage, but it is certainly possible to go much further back in time in the area of serious study of the baroque organ.

 

If we go back to 1937, long before WW2 and the obvious hostilities between Germany and the English-speaking world, the Willis-trained organ-builder G.Donald-Harrison was coming under the influence of E.Power Biggs at Harvard University, when the FIRST attempt at a classical-organ was installed at Busch-Reisenger Museum, Harvard. It was probably not a neo-classical organ in the strict sense, but it was an attempt to create something new and experimental, based upon more neo-classic ideas.

 

This suggests that the knowledge E.Power-Biggs gained, was really very early, and safely pre-dates the likes of Geraint Jones or even Ralph Downes. This is why I originally mentioned Schweitzer, because he could still be the key to all this.

 

Something I find interesting, and which could yield possible lines of inquiry, is the fact that both Geraint Jones and E.Power-Biggs had a great interest in recording organ-music on original instruments. In the case of E.Power-Biggs, I believe he was greatly assisted by someone called Steinmeyer (so far as I know, not related to the organ-building company of that name). Certainly, Steinmeyer accompanied Biggs on his organ "tours" and did the recordings.

 

Geraint Jones was not only a musician, he was also employed by a recording company, which may well have been HMV. Now it was HMV who got Schweitzer to make his 1930's recordings in the UK, and it may well be that there is a direct line of contact from Schweitzer to Geraint Jones, and even across to America.

 

So, perhaps further investigation into the personnel of the recording companies may yield interesting links, and of course, if that were the case, then further research into the related area may be vital, and would suggest that it was rather more complicated than simple interest on the part of a few isolated individuals.

 

I'll have a shot at investigating that particular line of inquiry, and see if it produces anything of interest.

 

MM

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---------------------------------

 

The tome "The Organ" by William Lesley Sumner was first printed in 1952; suggesting that his knowledge of Schnitger was known long before that when the draft was drawn up. I would have thought that a minimum of two-years of prior research would have been in order, which makes it 1950 at the latest, and possibly much earlier still.

 

How much earlier we cannot really know at this stage, but it is certainly possible to go much further back in time in the area of serious study of the baroque organ.

 

 

===============================

 

 

Further to the pervious post, I came across this about William Leslie Sumner:-

 

 

Before the Second World War he made extensive researches into the history and music of the organ in Germany before much of it vanished forever. He travelled widely on the Continent, acquiring knowledge and playing many famous organs

 

MM

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Guest Barry Oakley
---------------------------------

 

 

...Geraint Jones was not only a musician, he was also employed by a recording company, which may well have been HMV. Now it was HMV who got Schweitzer to make his 1930's recordings in the UK, and it may well be that there is a direct line of contact from Schweitzer to Geraint Jones, and even across to America.

 

So, perhaps further investigation into the personnel of the recording companies may yield interesting links, and of course, if that were the case, then further research into the related area may be vital, and would suggest that it was rather more complicated than simple interest on the part of a few isolated individuals.

 

I'll have a shot at investigating that particular line of inquiry, and see if it produces anything of interest.

 

MM

 

I'm not entirely sure, but I believe Geraint Jones had an association with the Decca company. A fine organist, I remember him calling in at Holy Trinity, Hull, one Saturday morning during the very early 50's when Peter Goodman had not been in post very long. It was supposed to be a fleeting visit (his words), but he was so enraptured with the organ that he stayed and played it for over an hour.

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I'm not entirely sure, but I believe Geraint Jones had an association with the Decca company. A fine organist, I remember him calling in at Holy Trinity, Hull, one Saturday morning during the very early 50's when Peter Goodman had not been in post very long. It was supposed to be a fleeting visit (his words), but he was so enraptured with the organ that he stayed and played it for over an hour.

 

 

======================

 

I'm unable to verify this as yet, but Geraint Jones was a prolific recording artist and conductor in many fields beyond the organ; as conductor, harpsichord-player, organist and, of course, the Geraint Jones Singers.

 

I think that suggests that he was well connected in the recording world.

 

Currently, I'm ploughing through various lists of personnel connected with the British Council, and by association, the Foreign Office, but nothing exciting has leapt off the page yet.

 

I though I may have stumbled onto something when I saw the name Kenneth Johnstone as being a diplomat in the immediate post-war period, but it turned out to be not THE Kenneth Ironside Johnstone who wrote the original history of the Armley, Schulze Organ, but a certain Kenneth Roy Johnstone, who was into Slavic Studies.

 

The search goes on............

 

MM

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======================

 

 

The search goes on............

 

MM

 

 

=========================

 

Got it!

 

Kenneth W. Bartlett worked for Schott & Co. Music publishing in Mainz as head of promotions, but was also a pillar of the British Council, along with his wife Ilse Bartlett.

 

That is the link between England, Geraint Jones and the British Council activities in Germany.

 

Kenneth W.Bartlett did the German translation of "The Mask of Time" for Voices and Instruments by Michael Tippett, Michael Tillett.

 

 

MM

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=========================

 

Got it!

 

Kenneth W. Bartlett worked for Schott & Co. Music publishing in Mainz as head of promotions, but was also a pillar of the British Council, along with his wife Ilse Bartlett.

 

That is the link between England, Geraint Jones and the British Council activities in Germany.

 

Kenneth W.Bartlett did the German translation of "The Mask of Time" for Voices and Instruments by Michael Tippett, Michael Tillett.

MM

 

Very great! I love to remember the Holmes/Watson-Quotation from the upper section of this thread....

Perhaps somebody (or MM again??) is able to make findings of similar meaning regarding the Arthur Howes / E. P. Biggs "movement" to North Germany....

Greetings from the Altes Land...

KBK

Btw, but not really OT: From July 1st the post of organist of Neuenfelde Church is available...!

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Very great! I love to remember the Holmes/Watson-Quotation from the upper section of this thread....

Perhaps somebody (or MM again??) is able to make findings of similar meaning regarding the Arthur Howes / E. P. Biggs "movement" to North Germany....

Greetings from the Altes Land...

KBK

Btw, but not really OT: From July 1st the post of organist of Neuenfelde Church is available...!

 

 

======================

 

 

OH WORMS AND FEATHERED FOWLS!

 

I'll see what I can find........

 

:)

 

MM

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======================

OH WORMS AND FEATHERED FOWLS!

 

I'll see what I can find........

 

:)

 

MM

 

 

===============================

 

 

I think I have found most of the answers except one, which has always fascinated me, but to which I have never discovered the answer.

 

E.Power Biggs was an Englishman of course, born in Westcliffe-on-Sea in 1906, and studying at the Royal Academy in London, before trotting off to the USA in 1930 and making a name for himself.

 

His memory is still revered in America and elsewhere, but what do we know about those early formative years back in England?

 

Does anyone know who taught him, or perhaps who was teaching at the RAM in the period 1925-1930?

 

It's just that he was so out-on-a-limb musically, and virtually a lone voice in America, and yet, he knew enough to pursue the idea of a baroque-revival in America as early as perhaps 1935, when he personally paid G.Donald-Harrison to install the first organ (1937) in the Busch Museum at Harvard, and of which Biggs remained the owner.

 

He then went on to get Dirk Flentrop to supply a replacement organ, for which Biggs also paid and continued to own, until it was eventually donated to Harvard. Having played this simply gorgeous instrument, I can well understand the impact it had across the whole of America.

 

Heaven knows where he got all the money from in so short a space of time, but get it he obviously did.

 

It's this early connection which I just cannot make, because it would be fascinating to know just HOW Biggs became aware of the old baroque tradition, at a time when everyone was enraptured by the very heavy romantic organs of Skinner and his contemporaries.

 

Anyone got any clues?

 

MM

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MM screeches to a halt, having discovered most, if not all of the sources required.

 

PLEASE DISREGARD EARLIER REQUEST FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE INFLUENCES ON E.POWER-BIGGS.

 

I will post the very complex and extremely fascinating information shortly, which has certainly come as a revelation to myself, and should provide all the details required by our German friend 'kropf.'.

 

However, as an aside, I was fascinated to learn something about the Flentrop instrument at Harvard.

 

I didn't know that it had three alternative ranks of pipes, which could be slotted into the organ very quickly; thus changing the specification instantly!

 

That must be unique in the history of organ-building.

 

Apparently, when Charles Fisk heard of this, he said to Biggs, "Best keep this to ourselves, or they'll all be wanting convertibles!"

 

MM

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Perhaps somebody (or MM again??) is able to make findings of similar meaning regarding the Arthur Howes / E. P. Biggs "movement" to North Germany....

Greetings from the Altes Land...

KBK

 

==========================

 

Well, you asked KBK, and I may only apologise for the length of this, but here goes:-

 

E.Power-Biggs and Arthur Hawes

 

 

If Geraint Jones first came into contact with Schnitger organs shortly after the end of the Second World War, the Anglo-American organist E.Power-Biggs was to follow in hot-pursuit a few years later.

 

Initial enquiries were directed towards Bigg’s early formative years in England, where the Early Music movement had got under way, thanks to the work of Arnold Dolmetsch. A tentative link suggested that Herbert Murrill could possibly be a link between Biggs and the baroque-organ, due to the fact that Murrill himself was involved in early-music at the Royal Academy of Music.

 

However, enquiries in America reveal a possibly quite different source of influence on the young Biggs, who had arrived in America at around the age of 24, in 1930, and so compelling is the evidence, it seems reasonably certain that this evidence holds true to actual events.

 

Whilst the interest in early-music was established around Boston and Harvard, Massachussets, around 1950 or so, there was in fact a much earlier separate interest involving the organ, and which safely pre-dates this by some 15-17 years, sometime in the early to mid-1930’s; at the very height of the Symphonic American Organ.

 

However, it is important to understand that American academia has always demonstrated a very strong German bias; especially in the formative years of American higher-education. It is for this reason that the significance of Albert Schweitzer is greater in America than it ever was elsewhere, and organ-students stuck avidly to their copies of the Widor-Schweitzer edition of the Bach Organ Works. I have copies of these myself, and in the forward, Schweitzer wrote, “We have lost the old tone of the organ that Bach wrote for; and since the tone is the chief thing, it must be said that the modern organ (1900) is not so suitable for Bach as is generally supposed .”

 

These words were probably sufficient to prompt an interest in what type of organ-tone had been lost, and this invariably led to the credo of the Orgelbewegung, and the associated interest in the sounds of Schnitger and Silbermann especially.

 

As early as 1933, the American organ-builder Walter Holtkamp, of Cleveland, Ohio, addressed the American Guild of Organists; suggesting that organs should have greater integrity, and be placed in good positions. This really marks the start of the baroque revival in America, and it wasn’t long before Holtkamp was building organs which could broadly be described as “neo-classic,” even though this did not extend to tracker-action.

 

Perhaps simultaneously, and definitely quite independently, another organ-builder began to pursue his own version of the Orgelbewegung; that man being the ex-Willis man and Englishman, G.Donald-Harrison, who went on to create the American Classic style of instrument, and held a specific knowledge of all things Cavaille-Coll and Willis, but also set about learning all he could of Gottfried Silbermann.

 

It is at this point that E.Power-Biggs enters the arena, for he was clearly making a name for himself as an organist, after years of diligent study and application. I have not been able to make the obvious connection between Biggs and Harvard University, but the fact is, Biggs ordered a new organ for the Busch Hall (Germanic Museum) there, which was an electro-pneumatic instrument built by G.Donald-Harrison; totally unenclosed, and voiced on light wind-pressure. The organ was completed in 1937, and it was on this instrument that Biggs made his long-running series of CBS broadcasts across America, and which demonstrated an entirely new and exciting sound which America had not heard previously. In fact, even Senator Emerson Richards, (the man behind the absurdly large 7-manual organ in the convention Hall, Atlantic City), wrote (in the American Organist), "(Biggs) revealed to us a music so new, so arresting, and so alive that we cannot believe it is the same old stodgy, uninteresting and decadent set of notes that have been running through the fingers of our organists since the middle of the last century....If we were writing this for Variety we would say that Mr. Biggs 'laid them in the aisles.'

 

The Boston Herald even wrote an editorial about it, entitled "The New Classical Organ: A Victory for Bach."

 

From that moment on, E.Power-Biggs was the torch-bearer for organ-reform in America, and his Bach performances ( and of music by other composers) gained legendary status, and are still inspirational models to-day, some 40-50 years later.

 

Biggs next turns up at the Peabody Institute, Baltimore, as tutor, and therein lies the key to what we are searching for.

 

Between 1941 and 1943, Arthur Howes had been organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, Texas, but by the early 1950’s, he is known to have been an organ-tutor at the Peabody Institute, Baltimore. Indeed, Arthur Howes must have been quite some tutor, because he taught organists of the calibre of Arthur Le Mirande http://www.concertartist.info/bio/LAM001.html and is still spoken very highly of by other notable organists.

 

Just as the British Council in Germany had encouraged cultural interchange between Britain and Germany after the 2nd World War, the Americans had the various “Fulbright Scholarships” which enabled students to go abroad on visits or to attend foreign learning institutions. As a consequence, Arthur Howes took a number of people on trips to Germany, where various historic organs were inspected and played. Although I have yet to find an exact reference, it is difficult to imagine anything other than the fact that

E.Power-Biggs joined at least one of those tours, and may well have performed for the visiting organists and organ-students.

 

The rest, as they say, is history, as the American equivalent to the Orgelbewegung gathered pace, with disciples such as the organ-builder Charles Fisk (who built an important neo-baroque instrument for the Memorial-Church of Harvard University, which I have played), and others such as Bunjes and Noehren.

 

Meanwhile, slightly disillusioned by the pace of organ-reform in the mid-1950’s, E.Power-Biggs personally commissioned his good friend Dirk Flentrop to built the superlative instrument in the Busch-Reisenger Hall (Germanic Museum) at Harvard University, which I played back in 1982 and immediately fell in love with. Biggs owned this organ, but eventually donated it to the museum authorities. Other imported instruments of great significance were built for America by von Beckareth, but one of the best and most significant, was that which combined the talents of both Charles Fisk and Dirk Flentrop, under the banner of the Andover Organ Company (owned by Fisk), at Mount Calvary Church, Baltimore, where the organist/consultant was none other than Arthur Howes.

 

Although not striuctly relevant to this subject, Arthur Howes was one of the consultants who advised about the re-building by G.Donald-Harrison and Aeolian-Skinner, of the great Walcker organ in the Methuen Hall.

 

:)

 

MM

 

 

PS: The interesting thing to note, is how tightly knit this all was, and restricted to a fairly small area (by American standards) comprising of a triangle covering Cleveland Ohio, Boston/Harvard Mass., and Baltimore MD.

 

It doesn't suprise me at all, because in Boston, one in three of the population are graduates, and I have never met so many intelligent people anywhere.

 

PPS: All the personal papers relating both to E.Power-Biggs and Arthur Howes, including private correspondence, is held by the Boston Chapter of the "America Guild of Organists" in the Theological Building of Harvard University. They would, I think, be very happy to offer further assistance, and would also, I feel sure, welcome facmilie copies of the names who signed the visitor's book at Steinkerchen, or anywhere else.

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However, as an aside, I was fascinated to learn something about the Flentrop instrument at Harvard.

 

I didn't know that it had three alternative ranks of pipes, which could be slotted into the organ very quickly; thus changing the specification instantly!

 

That must be unique in the history of organ-building.

 

Apparently, when Charles Fisk heard of this, he said to Biggs, "Best keep this to ourselves, or they'll all be wanting convertibles!"

 

MM

 

=====================

 

 

Mistake folks! Biggs was talking to Walter Holtkamp, not Charles Fisk.

 

MM

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