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Guest Psalm 78 v.67

What do people think we should have in our repertoire as a matter of course? I am presupposing a fair degree of competence - say AB Grade 6 upwards?

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Guest Cynic
What do people think we should have in our repertoire as a matter of course? I am presupposing a fair degree of competence - say AB Grade 6 upwards?

 

Wow, what an open-ended question!

Sitting here, fairly miserable with nothing better to do, I'll try an in-depth answer for you.

This is based on practical church experience (voluntaries etc.) and some years of individual organ teaching.

Obviously folks will argue with my suggestions, but a good list (which might take a keen student five years to learn) might include a balance of the following:

 

1. Preludes from J.S.B's Orgelbuchlein - a good selection

Following that, P&Fs in A, C(BWV.545) F&F in C minor, Pastorale. I do not despise the 8 Short Preludes and Fugues, they are not now thought to be by Bach, but they're all tuneful and of ideal length and difficulty level.

2. Your (specific) utility voluntaries: Wedings, Funerals etc. incl. Handel transcriptions, Mendelssohn etc. It is kinder to say 'The Widor does not sound very good on this organ' than it is to promise to play it on a tiny two-decker and leave everyone under-enthused.

3. Selected pieces from Vierne's 24 Pieces in free style - start with Berceuse, Lied or Carillon

4. 18th century English Manuals-only voluntaries - especially Stanley (several editions) and Walond (Peters/Hinrichsen) These are all wonderful - tuneful, good manual exercise, congregations love them.

5. Preludes and Fugues by Buxtehude - all of these are less technically demanding than the greater T&F/P&F's of Bach. They are all crowd-pleasers and do not have to be played complete on every occasion.

6. At least one Mendelssohn Sonata - no.2 is the easiest

7. At least one bit of Franck - Pastorale or Cantabile, maybe

8. Some more recent UK stuff - the OUP volumes (Easy Modern Organ Music) etc., Mayhew items etc.

9. A few of The Standards of 'Anglican Tradition'

under this heading I would include

Bridge - Adagio in E

Darke - Meditation on Brother James' Air

Festing/Thalben-Ball - Air and Variations

Thalben-Ball - Elegy

Howells - Master Tallis's Testament

Prelude on 'Melcombe' or Elegy - Parry

The Holy Boy, Sursum Corda or Elegy - Ireland

Any of the Short Preludes and Postludes - Stanford (these are all excellent and not all difficult)

Tuba Tune - Lang (hackneyed, I know, but listeners all really like it)

Trumpet Minuet - Hollins

Rhosymedre or Greensleeves - Vaughan-Williams

 

For seriously short voluntaries, Franck's L'Organiste and Elgar's Vesper Voluntaries take some beating. Again, there are good Mayhew Collections and any volume edited by the late great C.H.Trevor.

 

I have an amateur organist friend who keeps making the mistake of really liking a piece, buying it and then getting bogged down because the choice is so firmly at the wrong level for him. A church organist does not have to play difficult pieces to do a good job, you do not even need difficult pieces to make a pleasing recital programme. My friend would have done better to learn 20 other pieces in the time he's spent on the Mozart F Minor Fantasia (which is a killer item). I've told him, of course!

 

I quite understand the need for someone to be working away at a special project piece (I've known 13-year-old wrestling with Litanies, slightly-unofficially), but (that apart) the playing diet ought to be things that can be fairly readily learned because they are not excessively or unrealistically demanding. An ideal Out-voluntary may not be more than about four pages long.

 

People obviously have their favourite styles - at age 14 I only wanted to play Messiaen. However, If you're trying to please a few people besides yourself, you ought to cast the net pretty wide. I know Cabezon, Frescobaldi and Sweelinck have a lot to teach us, but I wouldn't want to give too much of that sort of thing to a congregation any more than I would give them much Dupre and Alain, let alone Maxwell Davies. I love the classical French stuff, but the truth is (Daquin Noels aside) you really need at least some of the correct stops available to bring these to life.

 

Hope this gets the ball rolling!

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As Paul says, what a wide question, but no doubt a good one.

 

The truth is, there is 'no such list'. I've known people who have posted lists before they were given by teachers, but it is so subjective. Maybe there is a small amount of 'must - play' music but it depends what you like

 

Some 'Schools' that are worth contemplating

 

Germanic Baroque

 

There is a lot of quality stuff by Krebs, Walther etc off that well beaten bach / buxtehude track. Much of it is not hard, indeed the Pachbell P+F and Chorale Preludes, though not quite sight readable, certainly won't have you slogging around for the rest of your life.

 

Older English 'Manuals Only'

 

Novello publish a 10 book series on this with blue covers. People like John Stanley etc feature heavily in these.

 

German Romantic

 

Mendelssohn / Karg - Elert / Reubke / Liszt / Reger

 

This starts turning into a lot more technical music. Mendelssohn Sonatas have some lovely simple movements. (Last bit of 6 etc) Dont bother with Reubke unless you are stupid or got a lot of time to spend on it. Liszt has some simple movements (if you look beyond B-A-C-H and 'ad nos') including a piece on the Grade 2 syllabus, that deserves more respect than that suggests!! Karg Elert i don't know much about (Paul has a CD on him, he'll tell you) but the 'Nun Danket' postlude is well known, and probably played by many organists every harvest time.

 

French Symphonic Tradition (Franck / Vierne / Widor / Guillmant)

 

Much of this has extensive techinical challenges of G8+ level. But so much is rewarding. Widor is probably the hardest, the Guillmant 'March on a theme of Handel' is a classic (and on G8 i think) and some of his sonata work isn't fantastically technical. Vierne has the '24 pieces en style libre' which range from grade 5 (bercuse) upwards. Francks pieces have their own challenges, but in a piece like 'Prelude Fugue et Variation' (Subtitle 'this is much harder than you ever think it will be) there are only two or three truly testing moments, mainly starting from Francks large hands!

 

English Edwardian

 

(Elgar / Brewer / Howells / Bridge / Darke / Walton / Vaughan Williams)

 

This seems to be rather fashionable at the minute. Its hard to think of everyone to list, but think of the edwardian canticle settings , and its most of those people. Howells has some beautiful movements (ducks from MM's missile) especially the Psalm Preludes, much easier than the harder rhapsodys. Walton and Elgar both have very good Orchestral transcriptions, Crown Imperial not being the hardest piece ever written (Unlike Orb and Sceptre!) and Pomp and Circumstance 4 is a nice play through if you can do quick pedal scales.

 

French Later 20th Century tradition

 

(Messiaen / Langlais / ?Alain? / Dupre/ Flor Peeters)

 

Much of this stuff is harder on the casual listener, and a very aquired taste (less so Flor Peeters) and harder to learn until you get into the style. Personally i find it rewarding music (Messiaen is not all hard !!! La Banquet Celeste and the vision of the eternal church move so slowly that you can think about it chord by chord... the later being a good trinity prelude)

 

 

 

But there are also composers who have stood alone in Organ writing at their time, hindemith definetly being one.

 

 

That took like 30 minutes... but oh well a break from revision. Hopefully stimulates a bit of discussion. I have ommited to talk about Bach in particular, and other composers that i know others on this board have far greater repetoiral knowledge of

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This is a list L was given:

 

Faber Early Organ Series Volumes 1-9

Modern Organ Music Book 1 (OUP)

Modern Organ Music Book 2 (OUP)

ALAIN, J. 3 Pieces: Jannequin variations; Le jardin suspendu; Litanies

BACH, J.S. Organ Works (Bärenreiter)

BACH, J.S. 533

BACH, J.S. 534

BACH, J.S. 542i

BACH, J.S. 543i

BACH, J.S. 544

BACH, J.S. 545

BACH, J.S. 546

BACH, J.S. 562

BACH, J.S. 564i

BACH, J.S. 572

BACH, J.S. Orgelbüchlein

BACH, J.S. Sonatas Nos 1 and 4

BEETHOVEN, L. v Fünf Stücke für Flötenuhr

BERKELEY, L. Andantino

BONNET, J Variations de Concert

BRAHMS, J. Chorale preludes (Henle ed.)

BRIDGE, F. Adagio (Three pieces for Organ)

BUXTEHUDE, D. Organ Works: Pasacaglia in D minor

BUXTEHUDE, D. Organ Works: Praeludium in C BuxWV137

COUPERIN, F Pièces d’Orgue

DEMESSIEUX, J. Twelve Chorale Preludes

DUPRÉ, M. F minor fugue from Trois Préludes and Fugues Op. 7

DUPRÉ, M. Le Tombeau de Titelouze, Op. 38

DUPRÉ, M. Vêpres du Commun, Op. 18

DURUFLE, M. Fugue sur le thème du Carillon des heures de la Cathédrale de Soissons

DURUFLE, M. Meditation

ELGAR, E. movts from Sonata No. 1 in G

FRANCK, C. Prelude, Fugue and Variation (UMP’s own ed. or new Franck ed.)

FRANCK, C. Trois Chorals: No. 3 in A minor (UMP’s own ed. or new Franck ed.)

HAKIM, N Mariales

HAYDN, J. Eight pieces for musical clocks

HINDEMITH, P. 1st of the 3 Sonatas

HONEGGER, A. (Fugue et) Choral

HOWELLS, H. Psalm Preludes Set 1 No. 1

LANGLAIS, J. Incantation pour un jour Saint

LANGLAIS, J. Suite Brève

LANGLAIS, J. Te Deum from Trois Paraphrases Grégoriennes

LEIGHTON, K. Prelude, Scherzo and Passacaglia

LISZT, F. Prelude & Fugue on BACH (Univeresal)

MATHIAS, W. Invocations

MATHIAS, W. Organ Album

MENDELSSOHN, F. Organ Sonatas (Henle or Novello eds.)

MENDELSSOHN, F. Preludes & Fugues (Henle ed.)

MESSIAEN, O. Apparition de l’Eglise Eternelle

MESSIAEN, O. La Nativité du Seigneur (some movements)

MESSIAEN, O. Le Banquet Céleste

MESSIAEN, O. Offrande au Saint-Sacrement

PEETERS, F. Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur Ave Maris Stella, Op. 28

PEETERS, F. Variations on an original theme, Op.58

REGER, M Organ Pieces, Op 65, Nos 7-12

REGER, M Organ Pieces, Op 80, Nos 7-12

REGER, M. Benedictus

REGER, M. Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor

REGER, M. Opus 59, Book 1

STANLEY, J. Thirty Voluntaries

SWEELINCK, J.P. Song Variations (Dutch edition)

VIERNE, L. Some “Symphonie” movts

VIERNE, L. 24 Pieces free style Book 2

VIERNE, L. Pièces de Fantaisie, Books 2-4

WIDOR, C.M. Some “Symphonie” movts

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Guest Nigel ALLCOAT

With the opportunities afforded by Eurostar, please don't forget the significant core of the French Baroque which supplies not only a richesse of glorious music but necessary technique and interpretive opportunities.

I am just a little alarmed that in this large list (can someone price it?), the beauties of Johann Pachelbel, Georg Bohm and Johann Walther are missing as composers in their own right. Tucked into compiled volumes might suggest a lower ranking in importance to a budding player. But some of course will be found in the Faber volumes. However, don't overlook the excellent Novello volumes of English Organ Music which has already been mentioned. Fly the Flag! I would argue that it is utterly necessary to play the music of the first (Meister Pachelbel), before turning the pages of most of the works of J.S. Bach. (But, please don't take so much notice of one writer here, when music seems to be easily, or not quite sight-readable, I say. Music does not need to seem difficult on paper to create enormous challenges when aspiring to the the perfection of performance, I suggest. How many times do we hear players performing too difficult or flashy, technically over-reaching pieces because they think they are impressing? Quite the opposite to seasoned ears.) And to fly an even older flag, no better affordable collection (Dover) can be had surely than the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book to hone a sensational technique and an understanding of famous and fabulous keyboard music from a previous time.

 

Might I make a plea that a student of tender years does not just play compositions? I earnestly hope that suitable reading material is thrust under his eyes too. I will gladly supply a list when time permits.

 

I imagine that it goes without saying that there will be the parallel teaching of Improvisation and the combining of the piano/harpsichord works throughout the ages with all specific organ music in the list. The pianoforte today (as was the Clavichord to previous generations) is the 'tool of the trade'. With ardent youngsters, unless the teacher is rigorous in policing repertoire and practice, some just play the Organ in isolation. I blame electric blowers.

 

All the best,

Nigel

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This is a list L was given:

 

 

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

 

 

If nothing else, it shows how different are our tatstes in organ-music.

 

Of the list, I colour code them as follows:-

 

Love it/play it (Green)

 

Got it/ only looked at it (Blue)

 

Wouldn't touch it with a barge-pole (Red)

 

Never heard of it (Black)

 

Here we go then:-

 

Faber Early Organ Series Volumes 1-9

Modern Organ Music Book 1 (OUP)

Modern Organ Music Book 2 (OUP)

ALAIN, J. 3 Pieces: Jannequin variations; Le jardin suspendu; Litanies

BACH, J.S. Organ Works (Bärenreiter)

BACH, J.S. 533

BACH, J.S. 534

BACH, J.S. 542i

BACH, J.S. 543i

BACH, J.S. 544

BACH, J.S. 545

BACH, J.S. 546

BACH, J.S. 562

BACH, J.S. 564i

BACH, J.S. 572

BACH, J.S. Orgelbüchlein

BACH, J.S. Sonatas Nos 1 and 4

 

BEETHOVEN, L. v Fünf Stücke für Flötenuhr

 

BERKELEY, L. Andantino

 

BONNET, J Variations de Concert

BRAHMS, J. Chorale preludes (Henle ed.)

 

BRIDGE, F. Adagio (Three pieces for Organ)

 

BUXTEHUDE, D. Organ Works: Pasacaglia in D minor

BUXTEHUDE, D. Organ Works: Praeludium in C BuxWV137

COUPERIN, F Pièces d’Orgue

 

DEMESSIEUX, J. Twelve Chorale Preludes

 

DUPRÉ, M. F minor fugue from Trois Préludes and Fugues Op. 7

 

DUPRÉ, M. Le Tombeau de Titelouze, Op. 38

 

DUPRÉ, M. Vêpres du Commun, Op. 18

DURUFLE, M. Fugue sur le thème du Carillon des heures de la Cathédrale de Soissons

 

DURUFLE, M. Meditation

 

ELGAR, E. movts from Sonata No. 1 in G

 

FRANCK, C. Prelude, Fugue and Variation (UMP’s own ed. or new Franck ed.)

FRANCK, C. Trois Chorals: No. 3 in A minor (UMP’s own ed. or new Franck ed.)

 

HAKIM, N Mariales

 

HAYDN, J. Eight pieces for musical clocks

HINDEMITH, P. 1st of the 3 Sonatas

 

HONEGGER, A. (Fugue et) Choral

 

HOWELLS, H. Psalm Preludes Set 1 No. 1

 

LANGLAIS, J. Incantation pour un jour Saint

LANGLAIS, J. Suite Brève

 

LANGLAIS, J. Te Deum from Trois Paraphrases Grégoriennes

 

 

LEIGHTON, K. Prelude, Scherzo and Passacaglia

 

 

LISZT, F. Prelude & Fugue on BACH (Univeresal)

 

 

MATHIAS, W. Invocations

 

MATHIAS, W. Organ Album

 

MENDELSSOHN, F. Organ Sonatas (Henle or Novello eds.)

MENDELSSOHN, F. Preludes & Fugues (Henle ed.)

 

MESSIAEN, O. Apparition de l’Eglise Eternelle

MESSIAEN, O. La Nativité du Seigneur (some movements)

MESSIAEN, O. Le Banquet Céleste

MESSIAEN, O. Offrande au Saint-Sacrement

 

PEETERS, F. Toccata, Fugue et Hymne sur Ave Maris Stella, Op. 28

PEETERS, F. Variations on an original theme, Op.58

 

REGER, M Organ Pieces, Op 65, Nos 7-12

REGER, M Organ Pieces, Op 80, Nos 7-12

 

REGER, M. Benedictus

 

REGER, M. Introduction and Passacaglia in D minor

 

REGER, M. Opus 59, Book 1

 

STANLEY, J. Thirty Voluntaries

SWEELINCK, J.P. Song Variations (Dutch edition)

 

VIERNE, L. Some “Symphonie” movts

VIERNE, L. 24 Pieces free style Book 2

VIERNE, L. Pièces de Fantaisie, Books 2-4

 

WIDOR, C.M. Some “Symphonie” movts

 

Of course, whoever drew up this list missed out some of the best organ-music, such as the music of Bruhns, de Grigny, Walcher, Reubke, Pachelbel and an awful lot more.

 

MM

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