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MusingMuso

Eastern Europe

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Go to almost any recital, and the chances are, the music will consist of Bach, French Romantic music and something by Howells. It's a predictable recipe.

 

Is no-one aware of the huge corpus of quality organ-music (much of it contemporary) from Eastern Europe?

 

This is really where it is "happening," yet we ignore it or don't know about it.

 

Has anyone ever heard a Brixi Organ Concerto or the Preludes & Fugues of Seger?

 

As for the organs, some sound absolutely fabulous and others are incredibly historic.

 

What do the organ-building names of Michael Engler, Pecs, Rieger or Josef Angster mean to anyone?

 

Which organ has the most fantastic organ-case in Europe, with carved moving figures on it?

 

Which Eastern European organ-builder took the sound of Cavaille-Coll back home with him?

 

Eastern Europe isn't the planet "Zog," but it IS a whole new world awaiting discovery by organists who think there is no future.

 

MM

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I wish it were that good! Unfortunately, all too many recitals are stuffed with transcriptions of second or third rate orchestral works. They may do a lot for the organ (though not in my opinion) but they do nothing for the organ repertoire.

 

There have been some wonderful eastern European organ works broadcast on BBC Radio 3 - in the middle of the night, of course! It would be good to hear some of this repertoire live, but can it be made to work on a bottom-heavy romantic english organ?

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There have been some wonderful eastern European organ works broadcast on BBC Radio 3 - in the middle of the night, of course! It would be good to hear some of this repertoire live, but can it be made to work on a bottom-heavy romantic english organ?

 

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

 

 

I am told that there is some wonderful Hungarian contemporary-music, which includes organ-music, but this is an area which I have yet to really get to grips with. However, they certainly have some wonderful sounding organs there; some of which have undergone improvement to the often patchy quality of work done during the communist days. Visusally, the Hungarians seem to have a real "eye" for contemporary beauty, with some exquisite case and console designs.

 

Fact of musical life......between 1945 and 1985, the area now known as the Czech Republic has produced 20,000 new classical-music compositions, of which a considerable number include organ-works, choral-works and excitingly, works for organ and other instruments. All this from a country about the size of Scotland with no more than 10,000,000 people!

 

Poland is a relatively poor country even now, but due to the fact that almost 90% of the population are staunchly catholic, the church has money. There are fine new organs being installed, and one of the best is the Eule organ at St.John's, Warsaw. As for organ-cases and historic instruments, Poland has a rich tradition, but some of the organs are in poor condition. However, the organ-cases are often absolute treasures of visual art, and that at Gdansk cathedral (formerly Danzig)starts where Weingarten leaves-off.

 

For those who like very large instruments, there are quite a few 5-manual instruments in the Eastern European region, and a few come close to the scale of their more famous counterparts at Liverpool and Passau, but we never hear about them.

 

For those who like their French organs, but find that most of the churches are closed in France these days, they should perhaps head off to Budapest. The organ of St.Matthews has it all, including chamades and rip-roaring pedal reeds.

 

I have a huge amount of information on my computer, and I've recently been writing a number of substantial articles about Eastern European organs and organ-music. Should anyone wish to see them, or perhaps share further information on the subject, I would invite them to contact me privately.

 

I have been quite excited to learn that musical life didn't stop with the deaths of Dupre and Langlais.

 

MM

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This is an important question. I occasionally do some Petr Eben and Arvo Part but that's about as far into the area I've gone.

 

Sadly the comment about transcriptions is probably true, as would be questions over the standard of scholarship. There is a guy called Michael Novenko who came over from Czech about ten years go, so I went to his big recital at Peterborough - he completely rewrote two Hindemith sonatas and played lots of Rheinberger.

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This is an important question.  I occasionally do some Petr Eben and Arvo Part but that's about as far into the area I've gone.

 

Sadly the comment about transcriptions is probably true, as would be questions over the standard of scholarship.  There is a guy called Michael Novenko who came over from Czech about ten years go, so I went to his big recital at Peterborough - he completely rewrote two Hindemith sonatas and played lots of Rheinberger.

 

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

 

I'm fascinated to know how Michael Novenko re-wrote two Hindemith Sonatas!

 

As an organist he is well respected, but of course, he is also a notable 12-tone improviser and composer.

 

In fact, you can hear him in action at the following link, by clicking onto the record sleeves, scrolling down and clicking on the treble-clefs for the sound sample from "Musica Bona."

 

http://www.musicabona.com/catalog/CR0217-2.html.en

 

I have a list (probably by no means exhaustive) of around 200 modern or contemporary organ-works from the Czech Republic alone, and I have heard at least a little of some of them. What fascinates me is the sheer diversity of them, with tonal or atonal harmony, folk rhythms, plainsong themes etc etc.

 

I am informed that the Hungarian organists and composers are also remarkable, but thus far, I have struggled terribly with translations of the language and it has proved to be very heavy going.

 

I will repeat my offer, that should anyone be interested, I have quite an interesting article about Czech organ-music, with sound samples and pretty pictures, should anyone be interested. I am also revising a similar pair of articles about Polish and Hungarian organ-history and musical culture.

 

 

MM

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I will repeat my offer, that should anyone be interested, I have quite an interesting article about Czech organ-music, with sound samples and pretty pictures, should anyone be interested. I am also revising a similar pair of articles about Polish and Hungarian organ-history and musical culture.

MM

 

Sounds interesting, can't you put on a website somewhere (i.e. downloadable in read-only non-printable PDF)?

I've got some Czech music in my collection, must say it looks interesting!

and quite difficult :unsure: ...

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Sounds interesting, can't you put on a website somewhere (i.e. downloadable in read-only non-printable PDF)?

I've got some Czech music in my collection, must say it looks interesting!

and quite difficult  :unsure: ...

 

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

 

Since writing the article about Czech organs, organ history and organ-music, I've carried out a number of revisions as more material has come to light. It currently runs to about 24 pages.

 

In fact, there is a section on "organs & organists on-line" for articles and reviews, and this is where I intend to archive it in due course. I'm not quite sure what the best format is going to be for the purpose.

 

However, I can send it to anyone as a Word document in the meantime, as I have done to a couple of people on this discussion board already. The same applies to the Hungarian and Polish reviews, if for no other reason than I would welcome any further comments or suggestions, as they are in the revision process at the current time.

 

Ask and thou shalt receive.

 

MM

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Will do, when I have email working right - no attachments at the moment.

 

Novenko gave a rather poor recital, unfortunately. This was about 1993 and I think he was slightly overwhelmed about being in the UK.

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I'm a few months late on this thread, but I must agree that the corpus of material from Eastern Europe is simply staggering (and of mostly high quality)

 

I tend to look for stuff off the beaten path anyway, and much of this music fills the bill quite nicely.

 

Cheers,

 

-J

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