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Organist Composers


Justadad
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In my ignorance I seem to think that in the past the great composers of organ music have often been organists themselves.

 

I'm having difficulty figuring out who the great organist/composers of today are.

 

As you may know, I am a shameless novice in these matters. I get to Naji Hakim and then, well, I grind to a halt. Stupid, I know.

 

I should be very grateful if those of you who know what you are talking about (i.e., everyone except me) could bring me up to speed on the great organist/composers extant ... please.

 

Thanks in advance.

 

Justadad

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Three spring straight to mind from these shores:

 

David Briggs

 

David Bednall (Someone to keep an eye on for the future, brilliant)

 

Paul Spicer (Although he's probably better known as a conductor than an organist.) His Kiwi Fireworks and his Suite for Organ are very fine, in my opinion.

 

P.

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"Great" composers? To be perfectly blunt, I'm not sure we have any at the moment, but the charitable view would be that posterity will be the better judge. There are some excellent ones around, though.

 

What little I have heard of David Liddle's music has impressed me enormously. His Arabesque in particular is not only idiomatically written for the instrument, but also extremely satisfyingly constructed. In short, it's a first-rate composition. I came across it when Peter Barley played it in a recital at Exeter. Stylistically it struck me as a sort of cross between Duruflé and Vaughan Williams - and none the worse for it. It is, however, enormously difficult; David warned me that it would take months to learn - and he wasn't joking! One day I hope to get around to it! But if you have the sort of mind and technique that can get round Messiaen's Les yeux dans les roues, it will hold no terrors. Opening page here.

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I'm having difficulty figuring out who the great organist/composers of today are.

 

I would agree with the other posts about greatness usually being acquired with time, but have you heard the works of Guy Bovet of Switzerland? He has composed some 'great' pieces, but perhaps that's great in a slightly different sense to yours.

Salamanca from Trois Préludes Hambourgeois seems to be gaining popularity.

 

You might also take a look at the list of contemporary composers of organ music at last year's Festival hosted by Martin Stacey at St. Dominic's Priory and two other venues.

Try this link.

 

A web search produces:

Peter Hurford, Ronald Henshaw, Robert Jordahl, Philip Goddard, Christopher Bowers-Broadbent and from Italy: Tiziano Bedetti, Leonello Capodaglio and Alberto Guerzoni, from The Netherlands: Toon (good name for a composer) Hagen, Bert Matter and Gerrit Wielenga, with the very young Danish composer and organist Frederick Magle and Sweden's Hans-Ola Ericsson.

 

Canada comes up with Piotr Grella-Mozejko (originally from Poland), George Andrix, Reinhard von Berg, Siaw kin Lee and Charles Stolte.

 

The USA seems to have, as we would expect, more than anywhere else, with Steve Everett, Ron Nagorcka, René Uijlenhoet, Robert Bates, Richard Felciano, Stephen Ingham, Zsigmund Szathmary, Richard Stewart and Wojciech Katamarz.

Has anyone ever played or even heard the works of any of these?

 

This forum recently quoted Simon Preston and Francis Jackson as having written some very good pieces too.

 

So it looks as if the creative spirit is alive and well.

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Piet Kee does Organ Music? this i would really like to here.

 

Yes, even for three organs (large-small-barrel) - quite modern.

 

Arie J. Keijzer has written and still writes many works. Sublime organist himself (played almost everything in concert), 'knows' how to write for the organ (no tricks/gimmicks).

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Yes, even for three organs (large-small-barrel) - quite modern.

 

Arie J. Keijzer has written and still writes many works. Sublime organist himself (played almost everything in concert), 'knows' how to write for the organ (no tricks/gimmicks).

 

 

Thanks for this comment; this composer is not known to me.

Please could you recommend one or two works that some of us should try?

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Thanks for this comment; this composer is not known to me.

Please could you recommend one or two works that some of us should try?

 

Try the Fantasy and Fugue on BACH, or one of the symphonies for organ. Not much recordings around, you might try this one.

 

You could listen to some variations played by the composer here.

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Piet Kee does Organ Music? this i would really like to here.

 

I'm not sure you would! 20th century Dutch and Belgian organ music was the historical topic I had to do for the FRCO last year. I spent hours pouring over Kee in the RCO library before it moved, and I'm sorry, but it just wasn't worth it.

 

(For the record, I gambled and put all my efforts into Peeters and Jongen, and came up trumps on the questions, huge relief!)

 

I'd certainly mention Francis Jackson and some Hurford. The Preston ALleluias is also an excellent piece, and Malcom Archer has produced a fair amount of organ music. Doesn't Dan Locklair play quite a bit, and there's a fair amount of his organ music knocking about. I think the next OR is being based on American organ music.

 

Perhaps we should be asking, why there aren't any? I think if you were to delve, we'd discover that our most talented organists, many of whom occupy cathedral positions, just don't have time to compose like their predecessors. Ask Francis Jackson how many health and safety meetings/taster days/parents evenings he had to go to when he took over at York, or how much paperwork there was to do. I'd wager not as many as the current postholder does!

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Talking of which, Philip Moore is no mean composer himself.

 

Then, although he is retired, there is Arthur Wills. Loads of stuff there. Not the deepest composer perhaps, but everything I have seen is technically extremely fluent and assured as well as being well crafted.

Yes, apologies for missing of Wills. I play a few of his pieces; I think I already mentioned on another thread about the Variations on Amazing Grace, and the Five Pieces got me through some graded exams some years ago. He also wrote a piece that demonstrated the organ rather well. I seem to remember it being on a theme by Purcell with short variations demonstrating different stops. I think I have a recording of him narrating it somewhere.

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USA: William Albright, though unfortunately fairly recently taken suddenly dead.

 

Zsigmond Szathmary incidentally German, not American.

 

Nobody has mentioned Peter Eben, not perhaps a famous organist, but he is or was one.

 

In France, Jean-Pierre LEGUAY.

 

Amongst others, of course..... actually I sometimes wonder if one of the biggest problems with organ music isn't that it tends to be written by organists rather than by composers. Of course a lot of composers who aren't organists tend to display an ignorance about the instrument only matched by that in regard to the harp and the guitar , but nearly all instrumentalists complain at times about the unidiomatic writing for their instruments by composers of newer music. As Beethoven said to the violinist who complained that the "Große Fuge" was unplayable, "What do I care about your stupid fiddle?" Mostly, they just go on and play it anyway..

B

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......though unfortunately fairly recently taken suddenly dead.

 

What a wonderful turn of phrase! :P

 

Of course a lot of composers who aren't organists tend to display an ignorance about the instrument only matched by that in regard to the harp and the guitar , but nearly all instrumentalists complain at times about the unidiomatic writing for their instruments by composers of newer music. As Beethoven said to the violinist who complained that the "Große Fuge" was unplayable, "What do I care about your stupid fiddle?" Mostly, they just go on and play it anyway..

B

 

I remember as an undergraduate being asked by a composition student if I would give the first performance of an organ piece which he was considering writing. I agreed, and two weeks later received the most impossible score which was black as one's hat, and which would have required something like twenty-seven fingers and five feet to perform! It would even have defeated Kevin Bowyer (not that he has twenty-seven fingers and five feet; well, he didn't the last time I met him!) And he wasn't willing to change ANYTHING! Of course, it didn't get performed, but I wonder what it might have sounded like as he seemed to have some good ideas...

 

Incidentally, in my ignorance, can anyone tell me how you get the double ss symbol in the middle of the term "Grosse Fuge"? And umlauts too? Thanks! B)

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Incidentally, in my ignorance, can anyone tell me how you get the double ss symbol in the middle of the term "Grosse Fuge"? And umlauts too? Thanks! :rolleyes:

 

Ask Windows to search for 'charmap' - then create a shortcut to desktop. It is easier (and probably quicker) than trying to remember twenty-three keyboard shortcuts....

 

ßßàáâãäåæçèéêëìíîïðñòóôõöøùúûüýþÿ

 

If you select the font 'Arial', there is a good selection of upper- and lower-case characters; there is even a complete Cyrillic alphabet.

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Ask Windows to search for 'charmap' - then create a shortcut to desktop. It is easier (and probably quicker) than trying to remember twenty-three keyboard shortcuts....

 

ßßàáâãäåæçèéêëìíîïðñòóôõöøùúûüýþÿ

 

If you select the font 'Arial', there is a good selection of upper- and lower-case characters; there is even a complete Cyrillic alphabet.

 

Thanks PCND, my ignorance is now lessened. :rolleyes:

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Dare one ask what is Cyrillic for "Chamades"? :rolleyes:

 

Phonetically, this is about as close as I can get to it:

 

Щамадз

 

However, I have no idea if they have a special word for it; they might treat it like the French treat 'le week-end', or 'le Solid-State'.

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Guest Psalm 78 v.67
Phonetically, this is about as close as I can get to it:

 

Щамадз

 

However, I have no idea if they have a special word for it; they might treat it like the French treat 'le week-end', or 'le Solid-State'.

 

ah! "Les grands bruits de pcnd" :rolleyes:

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Incidentally, in my ignorance, can anyone tell me how you get the double ss symbol in the middle of the term "Grosse Fuge"? And umlauts too? Thanks! :rolleyes:

 

You can also simply live in Germany and have a German keyboard. Then it's what you get when you type a question mark without the caps.

 

You also have to get used to having the "y" where real people have the "z" though. So that whenever I'm "at home" (meaning, where I come from) and write an e-Mail I end up signing myself

 

Barrz

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