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J S Bach In Poland?


MusingMuso
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I learned a fascinating fact to-day.

 

Apparently, there is a letter in Bach's hand which he wrote to a fellow musician who had settled in Gdansk, Poland (sometime around 1727-30). In the letter, he expressed interest in taking up the the appointment of O & C at St.Mary's, Gdansk.

 

St.Mary's, Gdansk, was where the greatly enlarged 18th century Michael Engler instrument was destroyed by fire in 1976, after the blower caught fire; a great loss to organ culture, and the destruction of one of the finest organ-cases from the 18th century.

 

Apparently, the organ of Olomouc Katedral, in the Czech Republic, contains ALL the original Engler pipework, still playable from its' own, original mechancial action console, but also playable from the huge 5-manual electric console which also controls all the additions of later years.

 

Engler is reputed to have been on a par with Silbermann.

 

The most magnificent sounding organ in the Czech Republic, I wonder if anyone has ever heard it?

 

MM

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This is an intersting possibility.  Where does this 'rumour' come from?

 

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

 

 

Straight from Gdansk....last night.

 

Fascinating isn't it? I don't think it is "rumour" by the sounds of it.

 

This is no "cowboy" source, but as I know nothing much further, I shall refrain form comment until I am better informed.

 

Apparently, the organ in Poland was known as far back as the 14th century, and there is music written for it.

 

We know nothing do we?

 

MM

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Further to my tantilising snippet concerning Bach's interest in the musical directorship of St.Mary's, Gdansk, Poland, I thought it best to include an extract from the e-mail I received from Poland last night.

 

It reads as follows:-

 

"....Organ music in Gdansk in particular, or more broadly in Poland, could

worth another article if you feel the amabition some other time. You

might have allready come across polish organ tablatures in your

research

so far, such as Jan (John) of Lublin or Mikolai (Nicholas) of Krakow or

also the Warsaw Tablatures.

Less know but certainly anything but less valubale are the Oliwa Organ

tablature which dates around 1613 or 1619, the Gdansk Organ Tablature

dating to 1595, and the Pelplin Organ Tablature with 17th century

works.

Above that Gdansk had some productive composers over the centuries who

produced some intresting musical pieces.

 

I think it is little known that preserved letters from the hand of

J.S.Bach include one letter around 1727-1730 in which he addressed a

former school friend who has become a Gdansk resident and expressed his

interest in becoming musical director at Gdansk's St. Mary's church.

That's a whole new world to discover....."

 

 

I think this has a distinct ring of authenticity about it, and the writer is certainly a good historian, having written extensively about the organs in the Gdansk region and with a very interesting web-site.

 

Having dipped a toe into the East European organ scene, I have come to realise that it is fabulously rich in history, some wonderful organs and a great deal of living art and musical composition; to the extent that I cast all other interests aside, and spent almost three months pouring over everything I could find. I know frustratingly little, yet I continue to be amazed as I learn more.

 

If people like Bach, then why don't they play the music of Seger?

 

An American organ music specialist assures me that the contemporary Hungarian organ-composers are very, very good indeed, yet somehow, it isn't yet making much of an impact here in the West of Europe.

 

It's good to be at the cutting edge of musical dsicovery, but I expect that far worthier "ologists" than I will eventually eclipse my feeble efforts.

 

And then there are all those very French-sounding organs in Hungary....quite a surprise, to say the least!

 

For those who like to hear improvisations, then there is a fine tradition of it which isn't French, and maybe I will post a few URL "pointers" to some fascinating examples as time goes on.

 

 

MM

 

 

.

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I have heard there are some really fine organs in and around Gdansk, a friend of mine Proff. Roman Perucki, is in charge of the "filharmonia" and is, or was organist at the Oliva cathedral. I suppose a lot of the good organs in that part of europe will have been lost during the war. There are probably some recordings of them hiding away somewhere. :mellow:

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Whilst in Gdansk last year, my wife bought me a CD:

 

Organy Katedry w Oliwie - Roman Perucki (DUX Recording Producers, Warsaw - DUX 0271)

 

which contains works by Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, J. H. Roman (Swedish contemporary of Handel) and a couple of local guys.

 

I'm not sure of the availability in this country, but the organ sounds good and there is some useful information in the booklet in English.

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I have heard there are some really fine  organs in and around  Gdansk, a friend of mine  Proff.  Roman Perucki, is in charge of the "filharmonia" and is,  or was organist at the Oliva cathedral. I suppose a lot of the good organs in that part of europe will have been  lost during the war. There are probably some recordings of them hiding away somewhere.  :mellow:

 

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

 

Yes indeed, and beyond Gdansk also. There are at least 20 notable organs in Warsaw, including the new Eule at St.Jan's Katedral, the huge (and I mean HUGE) 5-manual instrument at Breslau (now Wraclaw) formed from the Sauer which once graced the 100-year-hall. Sadly, whilst the great 5-manual instrument at St.Mary's,Gdansk (not the other 5-manual at Oliwa Katedral on the outskirts) somehow survived the extensive bombing of the city, it is ironic that this historic instrument was destroyed as recently as 1976. This was the one which contained the original Michael Engler pipework. Fortunately, they've got another one in the country, but it badly needs restoration.

 

The interesting thing is, that to the NW of Poland, the Romantic German influence is strong, and many instruments were re-built beyond recognition. This was the German "owned" part of Poland, of which Gdansk was the prize port the Germans so badly needed.

 

Go to the South (that was the Hungarian bit), and in other cities, such as Ludlow, Warsaw, Lodz, Krakow and many others (I can't remember the names, let alone spell them), there are some very substantial old and new instruments.

 

However, from a purely visual point of view, the organ cases are nothing short of fabulous throughout the country, with the exception of the utilitarian "communist" era cases and rows of zinc chimmney cans, with their cheap consoles.

 

With so many people going to church in Poland, there seems to be money enough to build new buildings and install organs, and to this end, organ-building seems to be thriving to a large extent. I am informed however, that during the war, great organs were hurriedly taken down and placed in storage often, and when the communists arrived, they were used as a depository of spare-parts and never put back. How's that for a post-war crime?

 

Nevertheless, it's quite a revelation, because the country which gave us cheap shoes and Polski Fiats, has also preserved a great deal of heritage; including many organs with those annoying short-octaves.

 

This is repeated throughout the Czech Republic, whilst some of the more notable organs in Hungary are truly monumental..... the organ of Eger Cathedral is about the same size as Liverpool, and sounds glorious. The organ-factory of Josef Angster in Pecs, (now re-opened as the Pecsi organ-building firm) dominated the town, and it says something about the communists, that poor old Angster ended up in prison simply for being a businessman. (I'm not sure if it wasn't his son, actually) Angster had studied with Cavaille-Coll, and took the French style back home to Hungary. With the communist take-over, it is easy to understand why Glatter-Glotz fled Czechoslovakia for Austria, and re-established the Rieger name there. The Rieger company in the Czech Republic, became Rieger-Kloss, who still exist, but now thankfully back in private hands, and apparently doing quite well for themselves.

 

 

MM

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http://www.organy.art.pl/index.php

 

One might check up ones Polish though  :blink:

 

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

 

My ONLY foray into the Polish language left me scarred for life. I had some Polish work colleagues, and when I asked them to teach me something in Polish, they tutored me for hours....well...days actually.

 

Armed with my friendly Polish greeting, they suggested I try it out on a student worker, which I did. The young man looked quite stunned for a moment, but seeing his fellow Poles grinning, realised that I had been set-up.

 

Apparently, I had told him that he had beautiful blond hair and that I wanted to sleep with him!

 

As I say...scarred for life! :mellow:

 

MM

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

 

 

Apparently, I had told him that he had beautiful blond hair and that I wanted to sleep with him!

 

As I say...scarred for life!    :mellow:

 

MM

 

Mind the flemish language for that matter.

During a family meeting a cousin of mine that didn't speak flemish that well asked for

more soup. He halas butchered the word "soep" in order the lady understood something else -a piece of anatomy only the dutch actually do eat, but from bulls-.

Pierre

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Whilst in Gdansk last year, my wife bought me a CD:

 

Organy Katedry w Oliwie - Roman Perucki (DUX Recording Producers, Warsaw - DUX 0271)

 

which contains works by Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, J. H. Roman (Swedish contemporary of Handel) and a couple of local guys.

 

I'm not sure of the availability in this country, but the organ sounds good and there is some useful information in the booklet in English.

Roman Perucki sent me that CD when he recorded it, its quite good. I made a recording of him in Durham Cathedral playing the Whitlock sonata (final movement) the Reubke sonata and a polish sonata by Tadeusz Paciorkiewicz

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Whilst in Gdansk last year, my wife bought me a CD:

 

Organy Katedry w Oliwie - Roman Perucki (DUX Recording Producers, Warsaw - DUX 0271)

 

which contains works by Handel, Bach, Mendelssohn, J. H. Roman (Swedish contemporary of Handel) and a couple of local guys.

 

I'm not sure of the availability in this country, but the organ sounds good and there is some useful information in the booklet in English.

 

:mellow::o

 

I got my copy of this CD from the Organ Historical Society Webstore in the USA. I find their site an invaluable way and simple of acquiring items from countries whose language I do not speak well enough to risk ordering directly .

:blink:

 

BAC

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:D  :o

 

I got my copy of this CD from the Organ Historical Society Webstore in the USA. I find their site an invaluable way and simple  of acquiring items from countries  whose language I do not speak well enough to risk ordering directly .

;)

 

BAC

I have bought a few items from the OHs site, have you seen the videos of Ms Roth at St. Sulpice?? the quality is very of very dubious quality, but the information and the music he plays is of the highest quality, being a "non playing" organ lover, watching the way he manouvers round those 5 manuals is wonderful

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[

I have bought a few items from the OHs site, have you seen the videos of Ms Roth at St. Sulpice?? the quality is very of very dubious quality, but the information and the music he plays is of the highest quality, being a "non playing" organ lover, watching the way he manouvers round those 5 manuals is wonderful

 

 

I have not seen these particular videos, since I almost never buy them. My first excursion into the video market was almost my last. Carlo Curley at St Mary Redcliffe - excellent videography, appalling sound quality, even making every allowance for the fact that your average TV speaker is not going to produce HI FI quality( even if you have a 42" plasma screen and all the other latest gizmos, which I do not).It was like standing and listening from the far side of the churchyard. Is the sound OK on these videos ?

 

BAC

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In addition to possessing a copy of the Cochereau DVD, which I heartily recommend, I also have a copy of a video by Philippe Delacour, playing at S. Jean-Baptiste, Château-Salins and Nôtre-Dame, Metz. Even on video the sound and picture quality are very good.

 

I also have a copy of the video made at the time of the re-opening of the Gloucester Cathedral organ. In mitigation, the fact that there is no footage of DB actually playing at the console during the concert is not entirely my fault. I was up in the loft turning pages for DB (and switching-on the spotlights he had rigged-up on the case). The sound chap had said "If you press the pause button when he starts playing, the video behind you will start recording". Did it? I think not. I pressed the button. I altered the angle of the remote. I pressed it several times. I went up to the machine and examined it for any helpful buttons. All to no avail.

 

If it is any consolation, DB played really well - as can be heard from the soundtrack. Since he is not particularly demonstrative when he is playing (Simon Lindley looks as if he is changing light-bulbs) you are not really missing anything.... ;)

 

The point about all that was - I can certainly recommend the video of Philippe Delacour playing, if, that is, it is still available. :D

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In addition to possessing a copy of the Cochereau DVD, which I heartily recommend, I also have a copy of a video by Philippe Delacour, playing at S. Jean-Baptiste, Château-Salins and Nôtre-Dame, Metz. Even on video the sound and picture quality are very good.

 

I also have a copy of the video made at the time of the re-opening of the Gloucester Cathedral organ. In mitigation, the fact that there is no footage of DB actually playing at the console during the concert is not entirely my fault. I was up in the loft turning pages for DB (and switching-on the spotlights he had rigged-up on the case). The sound chap had said "If you press the pause button when he starts playing, the video behind you will start recording". Did it? I think not. I pressed the button. I altered the angle of the remote. I pressed it several times. I went up to the machine and examined it for any helpful buttons. All to no avail.

 

If it is any consolation, DB played really well - as can be heard from the soundtrack. Since he is not particularly demonstrative when he is playing (Simon Lindley looks as if he is changing light-bulbs) you are not really missing anything.... :lol:

 

The point about all that was -  I can certainly recommend the video of Philippe Delacour playing, if, that is, it is still available. :blink:

I too have that video, and also the C.C. from Redcliffe. Have you seen the Thomas Heywood Melbourne Town Hall dvd?? the quality is very good as is the 2 channel stereo sound track. I saw him at York Minster last year, amongst many things, he played the Bach BWV 542, toooooo fast, and it got muddled up in the very generous acoustic, but hearing and seeing it played on the Melbourne orga, it was excellent, I can highly recomend that one.

Peter

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I too have that video, and also the C.C. from Redcliffe. Have you seen the Thomas Heywood Melbourne Town Hall dvd?? the quality is very good as is the 2 channel stereo sound track. I saw him at York Minster last year, amongst many things, he played the Bach BWV 542, toooooo fast, and it got muddled up in the very generous acoustic, but hearing and seeing it played on the Melbourne orga, it was excellent, I can highly recomend that one.

Peter

 

 

Dear Peter,

 

I do have the Heywood DVD and the CD of the repertoire as well. I would support your recommendation. I suppose the disadvantage of being a travelling virtuoso is that you can practise playing the notes but not playing the accoustic, and so you adopt a tempo that has been right for other venues but does not work somewhere with a more generous accoustic.

 

BAC

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Guest Roffensis
I too have that video, and also the C.C. from Redcliffe. Have you seen the Thomas Heywood  Melbourne Town Hall dvd?? the quality is very good as is the 2 channel stereo sound track. I saw him at York Minster last year, amongst many things, he played the Bach BWV 542, toooooo fast, and it got muddled up in the very generous acoustic, but hearing and seeing it played on the Melbourne orga, it was excellent, I can highly recomend that one.

Peter

Dear Peter,

 

I do have the Heywood DVD and the CD of the repertoire as well. I would support your recommendation. I suppose the disadvantage of being a travelling virtuoso is that you can practise playing the notes but not playing the accoustic, and so you adopt a tempo that has been right for other venues but does not work somewhere with a more generous accoustic.

 

BAC

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  • 1 year later...

There are several facts that need some explanation in this topic:

 

1. J.S. Bach indeed applied for a post at St. Marien, Gdansk, he did not succeed though.

 

As far as I know, he was given his Kappelmeister title there posthumously in late 1980' or 1990'.

 

2. 1727-30 there were still four organs at St. Marien.

(for details see: http://paxel1677.republika.pl/forqueray/ma...he.danzig.html)

Main organ with nearly 60 stops (built 1585 by Julio Anthoni Friese) was redesigned by Jerzy Nitrowski 1672/73.

Nitrowski's pupil Johann Balthasar Held was later to become "ein Geselle" of Arp Schntiger. Schnitger was probably made accustomed with Salicional by Held (the stop occurs quite often in Schntiger's stoplist up from ca. 1690). Schnitger wrote of Held: "Herr Held kann es ebenso guht thun, als wenn ich selber da were, denn wir stehen beyde vor einen und einer vor beyde."

 

 

The organ at St. Marien in Gdansk remodeled later several times existed till the end of IIWW and was believed to have burnt 1944. However some 80% of the organ case (with elements going back to 1585) were discovered in 2005.

 

The reconstruction howewer seems hardly possible as St. Marien houses today another organ (Merten Friese 1629 and Gebr. Hillbrand 1985) rescued from the 1944 ruined neighbourhood St. Johann.

 

3. The Michael Engler organ mentioned by MusingMuso was indeed destroyed by fire in 1976 but stayed in Wroclaw - some 600 km South from Gdansk and belonged to a totally different tradition.

(nearer to Silbermann and Zacharias Hildebrandt than to Nitrowski

NB. There was another member of the Hildebrandt family, Andreas, active in Gdansk. He is known to use Pedalrückpositiven and create the Gdansk prospect type (different from the Hamburg prospect or the Prussian prospect) for the first time.

His best preserved organ stays in Pruszcz Gdanski - for photographs and stoplist visit http://organy.art.pl/instrumenty.php?instr_id=113

 

Currently there are plans to reconstruct the organ with the equally large and excellently preserved Engler organs in Krzeszow and Olmouc serving as models.

 

Fro photographs and stoplist of the organ in Krzeszow visit: http://organy.art.pl/instrumenty.php?instr_id=274

 

NB. There is a second church in Krzeszow with a wonderful organ by Jacob Ulisch (17th c.), for details visit:

http://paxel1677.republika.pl/forqueray/krzeszow.html

 

For details visit: http://www.opusorgani.wroclaw.pl/polski/glowna2.html (in Polish only...)

 

Kind regards,

Krzysztof Urbaniak

 

www.organist-harpsichordist.com

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There are several facts that need some explanation in this topic:

 

1. J.S. Bach indeed applied for a post at St. Marien, Gdansk, he did not succeed though.

 

As far as I know, he was given his Kappelmeister title there posthumously in late 1980' or 1990'.

 

2. 1727-30 there were still four organs at St. Marien.

(for details see: http://paxel1677.republika.pl/forqueray/ma...he.danzig.html)

Main organ with nearly 60 stops (built 1585 by Julio Anthoni Friese) was redesigned by Jerzy Nitrowski 1672/73.

Nitrowski's pupil Johann Balthasar Held was later to become "ein Geselle" of Arp Schntiger. Schnitger was probably made accustomed with Salicional by Held (the stop occurs quite often in Schntiger's stoplist up from ca. 1690). Schnitger wrote of Held: "Herr Held kann es ebenso guht thun, als wenn ich selber da were, denn wir stehen beyde vor einen und einer vor beyde."

The organ at St. Marien in Gdansk remodeled later several times existed till the end of IIWW and was believed to have burnt 1944. However some 80% of the organ case (with elements going back to 1585) were discovered in 2005.

 

The reconstruction howewer seems hardly possible as St. Marien houses today another organ (Merten Friese 1629 and Gebr. Hillbrand 1985) rescued from the 1944 ruined neighbourhood St. Johann.

 

3. The Michael Engler organ mentioned by MusingMuso was indeed destroyed by fire in 1976 but stayed in Wroclaw - some 600 km South from Gdansk and belonged to a totally different tradition.

(nearer to Silbermann and Zacharias Hildebrandt than to Nitrowski

NB. There was another member of the Hildebrandt family, Andreas, active in Gdansk. He is known to use Pedalrückpositiven and create the Gdansk prospect type (different from the Hamburg prospect or the Prussian prospect) for the first time.

His best preserved organ stays in Pruszcz Gdanski - for photographs and stoplist visit http://organy.art.pl/instrumenty.php?instr_id=113)

 

Currently there are plans to reconstruct the organ with the equally large and excellently preserved Engler organs in Krzeszow and Olmouc serving as models.

 

Fro photographs and stoplist of the organ in Krzeszow visit: http://organy.art.pl/instrumenty.php?instr_id=274

 

NB. There is a second church in Krzeszow with a wonderful organ by Jacob Ulisch (17th c.), for details visit:

http://paxel1677.republika.pl/forqueray/krzeszow.html

 

For details visit: http://www.opusorgani.wroclaw.pl/polski/glowna2.html (in Polish only...)

 

Kind regards,

Krzysztof Urbaniak

 

www.organist-harpsichordist.com

 

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

 

 

What a wonderfully informative post, thank-you.

 

I think it was only three years previous that I started to investigate the organs and music of Eastern Europe, which by definition, covers so many places, so many traditions and so much history. I feel sure that a whole lifetime is not long enough to reach anything like a comprehensive understanding of the whole.

 

Nevertheless, stumbling over the obvious language barriers, I have discovered a great deal which continues to fascinate me, and which deserves to be better known by those of us to the west of Europe, who think that proper music and organ-building began there and stayed there.

 

Whatever the merits and demerits of communism (and there were indeed merits), the fact remains that we were largely cut-off from the extended artistic family of a wider Europe, and behind that barrier, many very interesting and exciting things were happening; as they continue to do to-day.

 

Poland is especially interesting, because so many fine old organs (and a number of splendid romantic and modern ones) tell of a whole history of composition, performance and tradition, yet we know disturbingly little about it due to a lack of communication. I always like to remind poeple that Poland is perhaps the only country, other than Germany, to have had a good pianist as its leader; one of them being Paderewski.

 

Perhaps we need a European organ-forum, which would enrich all our lives considerably.

 

God knows, with 500,00 Poles in the UK, we need something to talk about which isn't alcoholic!

 

MM

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