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Organ Anecdotes For Book Wanted

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There speaks an organist!

 

I have many orchestral colleagues who dislike the sound of an organ. They usually leave when it is played - if they do not have to stay to play their own instruments.

 

I would be interested to know why this is deemed acceptable, but, if I state that I dislike the sound of certain orchestral instruments, the implication is that this is unacceptable, narrow-minded or simply inverted musical snobbery.

 

I like the sound of the piano. I also enjoy the sound of a good rock band. I like a wide variety of jazz - from 'big band' to the Modern Jazz Quartet. I also like vocal music, guitar music and an oboe played really well - not to mention several other instruments. Why, therefore, is it perceived as a typical, musically-bigoted organist's reaction if I happen not to like the sound of orchestral strings?

 

<_<

 

en chamade, natch

 

Please tell me that there is not an 's' missing....

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I have many orchestral colleagues who dislike the sound of an organ. They usually leave when it is played - if they do not have to stay to play their own instruments.

 

I would be interested to know why this is deemed acceptable.

Is it? Not by me it isn't! <_<

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I Why, therefore, is it perceived as a typical, musically-bigoted organist's reaction if I happen not to like the sound of orchestral strings?

It isn't perceived by me, but as a former 'cellist I wish I could change your mind.

JC

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Guest Lee Blick
Why, therefore, is it perceived as a typical, musically-bigoted organist's reaction if I happen not to like the sound of orchestral strings?

 

I don't know. To me, not liking orchestral strings seems weird to me as not liking, say, the musical note 'E'.

 

I can understand people's dislike of the organ, if it is through ignorance. It is quite a mysterious instrument in many ways. It makes a lot of noise and often you can't see who is making it. For orchestral players, it could be down to jealousy. Organists have a huge array of timbres and sounds at his finger-tips and can often make a major impact, whereas the orchestral players own Parphorn probably doesn't do more than just 'parp' occasionally.

 

If we all liked the same thing or everything, life would be so predictable. We would all be competing for the affections of Jennifer Bate, or MM's latest piece on the side... <_<

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If we all liked the same thing or everything, life would be so predictable. We would all be competing for the affections of Jennifer Bate, or MM's latest piece on the side... :)

 

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

 

'The latest piece on the side' has a name; Marek, and he's rather sweet natured, even if he does call me "more stupid than chicken" from time to time.

 

<_<

 

MM

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Guest Lee Blick
======================

 

'The latest piece on the side' has a name; Marek, and he's rather sweet natured, even if he does call me "more stupid than chicken" from time to time.

 

:)

 

MM

 

Aw, I didn't mean it as a slight on your character, MM. I guess you are not in the mood for a little fun-making tonight. <_<

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I have many orchestral colleagues who dislike the sound of an organ. They usually leave when it is played - if they do not have to stay to play their own instruments.

 

I would be interested to know why this is deemed acceptable, but, if I state that I dislike the sound of certain orchestral instruments, the implication is that this is unacceptable, narrow-minded or simply inverted musical snobbery.

 

I like the sound of the piano. I also enjoy the sound of a good rock band. I like a wide variety of jazz - from 'big band' to the Modern Jazz Quartet. I also like vocal music, guitar music and an oboe played really well - not to mention several other instruments. Why, therefore, is it perceived as a typical, musically-bigoted organist's reaction if I happen not to like the sound of orchestral strings?

 

<_<

Please tell me that there is not an 's' missing....

 

 

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

 

I can empathise with this to some extent, because there are two instruments I dislike; the Clarinet and the Viola, unless the former is being played by Benny Goodman.

 

I do actually prefer the sound of Viols and baroque string instruments to the modern equivalents, and of course, they blend much better with the organ.

 

MM

 

 

Aw, I didn't mean it as a slight on your character, MM. I guess you are not in the mood for a little fun-making tonight. :)

 

 

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

 

 

Forgiven!

 

MM

 

PS: Always in the mood for fun. It gets me into terrible bother from time to time.

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Hi Jenny - I started a thread about this very subject last year, under the heading "Joke and 'joke'". I particularly liked Nigel's "comeback" and some other jokes there.

 

Peter

 

Thanks Peter - yes, have been having a massively fun time (read that as no dinners getting cooked, no housework, no website done, no gardening, ... no nothing actually... too busy trawling!) Must admit half the delight is getting to know people and hearing their yarns personally. Haven't had time to add my own yet - not sure exactly how well they'd go down, being of a colonial "natchuh"!

 

Jenny

 

Some years ago, during a Family Service that often tended to be a bit of a "free-for-all" with kids wandering everywhere, an angelic looking little girl, about 3, appeared in the organ loft while I was playing a hymn, and came and stood beside the console watching me - and promptly "dissapeared". As the hymn finished, her head popped up beside the organ stool, she smiled sweetly, waved at me, and departed, pulling up her knickers as she went - leaving an enormous steaming yellow puddle on the floor!

 

so what voluntary did you play??

thanks! Jenny

PS actually we had a similar problem once in a really crowded Easter service; a little boy and his mother were wedged in a corner at the back of the choir pews. The wee lad wanted to do just that but they were stuck fast, so the word was passed down to the soprano at the end of the pew. Luckily it was that sort of church and that sort of area where the flower ladies stashed their unused flower vases. The largest vase they could find was passed over the heads of the choir and given to the wee lad - who did. Equally ceremoniously it was then handed back, over the front and along to the person who was closest to the side door - and emptied. How's that for smooth?

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Guest Lee Blick
so what voluntary did you play??

 

Was it the 'Fountain Reverie' by Percy Fletcher?

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Guest Cynic
I can understand people's dislike of the organ, if it is through ignorance. It is quite a mysterious instrument in many ways. It makes a lot of noise and often you can't see who is making it. For orchestral players, it could be down to jealousy. Organists have a huge array of timbres and sounds at his finger-tips and can often make a major impact, whereas the orchestral players own Parphorn probably doesn't do more than just 'parp' occasionally.

 

 

Henri Mulet wrote

'The orchestra is an oil painting and the organ is a stained-glass window.'

and I think that's quite a helpful analogy. You get purer colours, some would say 'deader' colours on an organ. The sound is more artificial - perhaps more obviously man-made. I suppose it is unnatural. At the same time, there is something quite other-worldly about it. I love some piano music (especially Chopin, Debussy etc.) but I don't believe that the piano is any less an unnatural instrument than the organ - after all, every note decays immediately - the xylophone and cymbal apart, what orchestral instrument does that?!

 

There are people to whom the gaudiest oil-painting is more attractive than stained-glass, either because what they crave is a sort of romantic 'reality' or because they wouldn't like stained glass out of principle; possibly because the church seems totally alien to them for one reason or another.

 

I don't think that organ recitals will ever be mass entertainment, unless the player restricts himself/herself to the very well-known (some would say 'well-worn and cliched') core repertoire - or, of course, gives folks what they already know by means of transcriptions. Does this matter, however? In recitals, it is far more important to me that the audience go away happy than there are a lot of people there to start with.

 

However, I certainly think we have more chance of presenting attractive and varied music with instruments posessing a decent number of stops, well voiced, with good contrasts between the tone colours. A recital in a cathedral or town hall therefore stands a lot more chance of thrilling the audience or simply holding the attention because of the impact and variety of sounds available. A shame, but there it is. One can present Bach on an instrument of 10 stops and make the purest music, but this will tend to appeal only to the initiated. Mind you, sales of poetry collections cannot bear comparison with sales of popular fiction. The very highest art cannot always be expected to appeal to a large number.

 

I don't think it is rude to suggest that players who stubbornly present the hardest pieces they can play without relief, players who insist that Bach never changed manuals or drew extra stops during a movement and players who expect everyone to sit through seriously long stretches of 'wrong-note music' do not help our cause. One can be totally well-intentioned, hard-working and serious and still miss the point by miles. If your audience has to be as dedicated and knowledgeable as you, then you should not expect many to come and listen.

 

One last comment, about transcriptions: there is a punch, a total unanimity of attack and a crispness of orchestral transcriptions played on the organ which very, very few orchestras can rival. I wouldn't play them all the time, (and I wouldn't get my wife to do all the registering!*) but I do think that the occasional orchestral piece can fit into a good recital programme like nothing else.

 

 

 

*miaow!

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I can understand people's dislike of the organ, if it is through ignorance. It is quite a mysterious instrument in many ways.

 

 

Indeed Lee; ignorance and fear of the unknown is the root cause of all prejudice....

 

Peter

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Indeed Lee; ignorance and fear of the unknown is the root cause of all prejudice....

 

Peter

 

 

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

 

 

Don't forget denial.

 

MM

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In recitals, it is far more important to me that the audience go away happy than there are a lot of people there to start with.

.............

I don't think it is rude to suggest that players who stubbornly present the hardest pieces they can play without relief, players who insist that Bach never changed manuals or drew extra stops during a movement and players who expect everyone to sit through seriously long stretches of 'wrong-note music' do not help our cause. One can be totally well-intentioned, hard-working and serious and still miss the point by miles. If your audience has to be as dedicated and knowledgeable as you, then you should not expect many to come and listen.

Hear! Hear!!! With bells on!!!! <_<

Now for the "be Honest" time: have any of you walked out of an organ concert/recital?

Jenny

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Hear! Hear!!! With bells on!!!! <_<

Now for the "be Honest" time: have any of you walked out of an organ concert/recital?

Jenny

 

Yes - but I but it was some time ago and I don't think I should go national with who was playing for fear of upsetting the person concerned or his large following. Sufficient to say that the organ was no good - the sound coming out through speakers far too near me for comfort (!!) and the repertoire was decidedly too 'light' for even my ears even though the playing was its expectedly high standard. The chippy on the way home had far more of a pull that evening.

 

My wife and I also did a similar thing at a Bath Festival concert. VERY obscure Baroque music - the sort that rather takes itself too seriously with an audience that largely did the same. The final straw was when the soloists came in - a very large man and a very small man. The problem was that the very large one was the Alto and the very small one the Bass! Immature it may be but I am afraid we couldn't stop laughing so we popped off to a very nice wine bar and had a meal out instead.

 

AJJ

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Yes - but I but it was some time ago and I don't think I should go national with who was playing for fear of upsetting the person concerned or his large following. Sufficient to say that the organ was no good - the sound coming out through speakers far too near me for comfort (!!) and the repertoire was decidedly too 'light' for even my ears even though the playing was its expectedly high standard. The chippy on the way home had far more of a pull that evening.

 

My wife and I also did a similar thing at a Bath Festival concert. VERY obscure Baroque music - the sort that rather takes itself too seriously with an audience that largely did the same. The final straw was when the soloists came in - a very large man and a very small man. The problem was that the very large one was the Alto and the very small one the Bass! Immature it may be but I am afraid we couldn't stop laughing so we popped off to a very nice wine bar and had a meal out instead.

 

AJJ

<_< have been in similar situation - ran out of hankies to stuff in mouths. I recall years ago a Cathedral in Germany - very famous for its summer evening free concerts where the tourists pack in and there's standing room available only on the altar. The organist played Liszt and Reger B.A.C.H. back to back (should that be Bach to Bach?) in the most turgid, plodding style I have ever heard. Mentally, we were out of there but couldn't move as it would have looked extremely rude and we were sandwiched somewhere between communion rail

and steps. If any doubting Thomas was converted to organ music that evening I'll eat my iPod.

 

 

Jenny

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Henri Mulet wrote

'The orchestra is an oil painting and the organ is a stained-glass window.'

and I think that's quite a helpful analogy. You get purer colours, some would say 'deader' colours on an organ. The sound is more artificial - perhaps more obviously man-made. I suppose it is unnatural. At the same time, there is something quite other-worldly about it. I love some piano music (especially Chopin, Debussy etc.) but I don't believe that the piano is any less an unnatural instrument than the organ - after all, every note decays immediately - the xylophone and cymbal apart, what orchestral instrument does that?!

 

There are people to whom the gaudiest oil-painting is more attractive than stained-glass, either because what they crave is a sort of romantic 'reality' or because they wouldn't like stained glass out of principle; possibly because the church seems totally alien to them for one reason or another.

 

I don't think that organ recitals will ever be mass entertainment, unless the player restricts himself/herself to the very well-known (some would say 'well-worn and cliched') core repertoire - or, of course, gives folks what they already know by means of transcriptions. Does this matter, however? In recitals, it is far more important to me that the audience go away happy than there are a lot of people there to start with.

 

However, I certainly think we have more chance of presenting attractive and varied music with instruments posessing a decent number of stops, well voiced, with good contrasts between the tone colours. A recital in a cathedral or town hall therefore stands a lot more chance of thrilling the audience or simply holding the attention because of the impact and variety of sounds available. A shame, but there it is. One can present Bach on an instrument of 10 stops and make the purest music, but this will tend to appeal only to the initiated. Mind you, sales of poetry collections cannot bear comparison with sales of popular fiction. The very highest art cannot always be expected to appeal to a large number.

 

I don't think it is rude to suggest that players who stubbornly present the hardest pieces they can play without relief, players who insist that Bach never changed manuals or drew extra stops during a movement and players who expect everyone to sit through seriously long stretches of 'wrong-note music' do not help our cause. One can be totally well-intentioned, hard-working and serious and still miss the point by miles. If your audience has to be as dedicated and knowledgeable as you, then you should not expect many to come and listen.

 

One last comment, about transcriptions: there is a punch, a total unanimity of attack and a crispness of orchestral transcriptions played on the organ which very, very few orchestras can rival. I wouldn't play them all the time, (and I wouldn't get my wife to do all the registering!*) but I do think that the occasional orchestral piece can fit into a good recital programme like nothing else.

*miaow!

 

 

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

 

 

I know that when I plan a recital, I like to present some sort of theme or story, with proper programme notes and with perhaps a few personal observations thrown in. Thus, in June, if all goes well, the theme will be "East meets West" as I explore a tiny fraction of Eastern European music, and demonstrate some small aspect of the influences which came to bear on it from Western Europe, or vice-versa.

 

So I take a slightly educational tac, but at the same time, I try to balance the choice of music.

 

All being well, my programme will consist of the following:-

 

Bach - Fantasia (BWV 568) (East Germany....stretching a point slightly)

 

One short piece from the "Jan of Lublin" tablature (Poland)

 

2 short fugues from Czechoslovakia by Seger and Cernerhorsky (also demonstrating the inlfuence of Bach)

 

Prelude and Fugue in D major - Glazunov (Russia) (I'm not fully decided about this yet)

 

Toccata - Mushel (With my own ending!) (Ukraine/Uzbekistan) (NOT RUSSIAN AT ALL)

 

Preludium - Zoltan Kodaly (Hungary)

 

Sonata on 94th Psalm - Reubke (to demonstrate the Hungarian influence of Liszt)

 

 

The reason I worry about the Glazunov, is the length of it, yet it is well up to the quality of, say, a Mendelssohn Sonata.

 

So perhaps my aims are very different to those of Paul, but I know that people will like what they hear, even though it combines the familiar with the less familiar.

 

Of course, if they all leave on their knees in stunned silence after the Reubke......well....that would be a bonus!

 

MM

 

I haven't a clue what this has got to do with organ anecdotes.

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Guest Lee Blick
Toccata - Mushel (With my own ending!)

 

So what do you do it then :P

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Guest Cynic

Dear MM,

I may have missed this bit of information higher up the topic (if so, please forgive me) but can I ask where this recital is to be given and, more particularly, upon what sort of an organ? The Reubke would be more than a little registrational challenge on your Laycock and Bannister!

 

I have no problem with this programme; indeed, I love several of the items. If it were a meal, however, it would seem to have quite a few substantial savoury dishes and not much in the 'sweet' category. [i'm not whining, merely observing.]

 

Have fun!

P.

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I must admit the same thought occurred to me. And that prompted me to go on to make several probably quite unjustified assumptions and wonder what is likely to count for more with the audience - how entertaining the music is or how charismatic the performer is and does it really matter which so long as they all enjoy it? But I think we've been here before more than once.

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