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How about this for a list of Friday night recitalists?


Giles Williams
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A poster was recently found at the American Cathedral in Paris which was designed to publicise the Lenten series of free organ recitals in the building way back in 1949.

 

The list was as follows;

 

March 4 - Charles Doddesley Walker, Organist of the American Cathedral

 

March 11 - André Marchal, Organist of Saint-Eustache

 

March 18 - Jean Langlais, Organist of Sainte-Clotilde

 

March 25 - Marcel Dupré, Organist of Saint-Sulpice

 

April 1 - Olivier Messiaen, Organist of Sainte-Trinité

 

April 8 - Maurice Duruflé, Organist of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont

 

And all of the above in a church advertised as being heated!

 

Posterity doesn't seem to say much about Mr Walker's competence or otherwise but the other five make for a pretty interesting line-up.

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A poster was recently found at the American Cathedral in Paris which was designed to publicise the Lenten series of free organ recitals in the building way back in 1949.

 

The list was as follows;

 

March 4 - Charles Doddesley Walker, Organist of the American Cathedral

 

March 11 - André Marchal, Organist of Saint-Eustache

 

March 18 - Jean Langlais, Organist of Sainte-Clotilde

 

March 25 - Marcel Dupré, Organist of Saint-Sulpice

 

April 1 - Olivier Messiaen, Organist of Sainte-Trinité

 

April 8 - Maurice Duruflé, Organist of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont

 

And all of the above in a church advertised as being heated!

 

Posterity doesn't seem to say much about Mr Walker's competence or otherwise but the other five make for a pretty interesting line-up.

What an era in the land of giants.

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Although these are remarkable names in the organ world, I would suggest (for debate) that their reputation was bolstered no end by folk outside their own country. It still happens today. We must never forget that there were remarkable players on both sides of the Atlantic during their lives (and for the sake of modesty I include the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland). My teacher (continental) could never understand why so many foreign organists were so idolized. He enjoyed it immensely though, but said we had quite the equal on our own territory. Sir Thomas Beecham also remarked (rather tersely) concerning the same thing with conductors! Most of the UK organ players concentrated on vocal compositions and so the ecclesiastical heritage is idolized globally but not their playing or more generally. their compositions for the organ. Balançoires et ronds-points!

Perhaps the Protestant versus Roman Catholic traditions have much to play in all this - but when the 'playing field' was even in Europe, the UK organists and composers were possibly leading the field. The Reformation has much to answer for in some ways. Likewise in the usage of the organ. Where are the West End 'sanctuaries' in the UK? For many-a year/decade/century the 'titulaire' is seen conducting the choir but still producing the most sublime recordings of organ playing - remember the Great Cathedral Series? Shocking in its gloriousness.

A sentence that includes 'prophet' and 'own country' springs to mind. But I do not decry the wonders from France and elsewhere. They should rejoice in their talent and their education. I just sometimes tend to think that much of the world thinks the best playing (and organ building) emanates from sniffing the Seine.

Best wishes,

N

 

PS I am sure Mr Walker's competence was enviable - he certainly had quite an equal in instrument, anyway, with those in the list. Perhaps he would not be so disparaged here if he had been M. Charles Promeneur and been published by Durrand (or the like). As one who was organising a series of concerts he certainly had excellent taste in knowing where the crême lay in Paris and was no doubt befriended by everyone in that list. Ergo, their equal. This says much for his posterity. Bravo Mr Walker for being such a wonderful entrepreneur in post-war Paris. Une gifle sur le dos pour vous. Vous n'êtes pas un nain dans la terre de géants.

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From Nigel's appropriate comment...

 

We must never forget that there were remarkable players on both sides of the Atlantic during their lives (and for the sake of modesty I include the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). [Just to make the geography correct].

 

F-W

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From Nigel's appropriate comment...

 

We must never forget that there were remarkable players on both sides of the Atlantic during their lives (and for the sake of modesty I include the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland). [Just to make the geography correct].

 

F-W

 

Corrected with thanks but with abject apologies to the Irish. N

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The point of posting this item was neither to make a national comparison not to in anyway belittle the abilities of Mr Walker who even at the American Cathedral has become a rather obscure historical character but rather to say wistfully that, had I been around at the time, I would have made a beeline for the ave George V. Of the six recitalists, I hardly think it contentious to say that the last four enjoy an enduring reputation internationally for their contribution to the organ repertoire. As a proud Brit living and working in Paris, the post was merely to state and share my amazement that such a concentration of talent could have been assembled during the course of a liturgical season, if it is construed otherwise, franchement, je m'en fous.

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A poster was recently found at the American Cathedral in Paris which was designed to publicise the Lenten series of free organ recitals in the building way back in 1949.

 

The list was as follows;

 

March 4 - Charles Doddesley Walker, Organist of the American Cathedral

 

March 11 - André Marchal, Organist of Saint-Eustache

 

March 18 - Jean Langlais, Organist of Sainte-Clotilde

 

March 25 - Marcel Dupré, Organist of Saint-Sulpice

 

April 1 - Olivier Messiaen, Organist of Sainte-Trinité

 

April 8 - Maurice Duruflé, Organist of Saint-Etienne-du-Mont

 

And all of the above in a church advertised as being heated!

 

Posterity doesn't seem to say much about Mr Walker's competence or otherwise but the other five make for a pretty interesting line-up.

 

 

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

 

 

Quite an impressive list by any standards, but it was a good era, with many fine French organists from whom to choose.

 

I can't help but be reminded of Dr Donald Hunt's tenure at Leeds PC during the 1960's and beyond (?).

 

What a galaxy of international artistes he managed to line-up, which continued when Simon Lindley became organist.

 

Apart from choral and orchestral events, the organ-recitals included such names as Roy Massey, Jane Parker-Smith,

Fernando Germani, Langlais (I seem to recall), Jiri Ropek, Melville Cook, Francis Jackson, Nicholas Kynaston, Alan Wicks, plus numerous other celebrity names of the day, from far and wide.

 

It didn't feel like it at the time, but this was really the last trump of a golden-age, when organ-recitals got big audiences whenever a celebrity recitalist played on a decent instrument.

 

Wonderful memories.

 

MM

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

 

 

Quite an impressive list by any standards, but it was a good era, with many fine French organists from whom to choose.

 

I can't help but be reminded of Dr Donald Hunt's tenure at Leeds PC during the 1960's and beyond (?).

 

What a galaxy of international artistes he managed to line-up, which continued when Simon Lindley became organist.

 

Apart from choral and orchestral events, the organ-recitals included such names as Roy Massey, Jane Parker-Smith,

Fernando Germani, Langlais (I seem to recall), Jiri Ropek, Melville Cook, Francis Jackson, Nicholas Kynaston, Alan Wicks, plus numerous other celebrity names of the day, from far and wide.

 

It didn't feel like it at the time, but this was really the last trump of a golden-age, when organ-recitals got big audiences whenever a celebrity recitalist played on a decent instrument.

 

Wonderful memories.

 

MM

 

.....and I remember marvellous recitals in St Nicholas Great Yarmouth from 1961 - 5 organised by my father; Fernando Germani, Flor Peeters, John Dykes Bower, Douglas Fox, Margaret Cobb, Robert Munns and many more. They all stayed at our home and to see Douglas butter a piece of toast with one hand was something else. I sold entrance programmes at the door for half a crown (12.5p).

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.....and I remember marvellous recitals in St Nicholas Great Yarmouth from 1961 - 5 organised by my father; Fernando Germani, Flor Peeters, John Dykes Bower, Douglas Fox, Margaret Cobb, Robert Munns and many more. They all stayed at our home and to see Douglas butter a piece of toast with one hand was something else. I sold entrance programmes at the door for half a crown (12.5p).

 

 

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

 

Forgive my ignorance, but who on earth was Douglas Fox?

 

MM

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

 

Forgive my ignorance, but who on earth was Douglas Fox?

 

MM

 

Virgil's brother? :) Perhaps not, but here is a clue just copied from the internet:

 

Barry Ferguson (b. 1942) was a boy Chorister (eventually Head Chorister) at Exeter (and accomplished enough, by then, to play for choir practice), and later a music scholar at Clifton College in Bristol under the famous one-armed organist Douglas Fox.

 

Now I suddenly understand the reference to buttering toast with one hand.

JC

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

 

Forgive my ignorance, but who on earth was Douglas Fox?

 

MM

 

Dear, dear! How little you know of some of the unsung legends of early-20th century British music education. The website of the Old Cliftonian Society says:

 

"But the figure who, above all, dominated Clifton music was Douglas Fox, the first boy to be elected to a music scholarship at Clifton. He was denied the chance of a career as a recitalist, or cathedral organist, when he lost his right arm in action while serving with the Gloucesters. He nevertheless taught himself to play the organ with left hand and pedals and, after some years as director of music at Bradfield, came back to Clifton in 1931. He was described by one of his Clifton colleagues as having "the mind of a scholar and something of the waywardness of genius". His greatest contribution was inspiring the music scholars, while demanding of all boys the very highest standards. In his 27 years at Clifton, more than 50 boys were elected to music scholarships at Oxford or Cambridge. Among them was David Willcocks (now Sir David Willcocks), who succeeded another Cliftonian, Boris Ord, as Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge." John Pryer, currently Titular Organist of Alexandra Palace and whose improvisations are nothing short of stunning (at Birmingham Cathedral, a young chorister called David Briggs would often run to the organ console after services to watch and take in what John - who was the Assistant then - was doing) is another of Fox's pupils.

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Dear, dear! How little you know of some of the unsung legends of early-20th century British music education. The website of the Old Cliftonian Society says:

 

"But the figure who, above all, dominated Clifton music was Douglas Fox, the first boy to be elected to a music scholarship at Clifton. He was denied the chance of a career as a recitalist, or cathedral organist, when he lost his right arm in action while serving with the Gloucesters. He nevertheless taught himself to play the organ with left hand and pedals and, after some years as director of music at Bradfield, came back to Clifton in 1931. He was described by one of his Clifton colleagues as having "the mind of a scholar and something of the waywardness of genius". His greatest contribution was inspiring the music scholars, while demanding of all boys the very highest standards. In his 27 years at Clifton, more than 50 boys were elected to music scholarships at Oxford or Cambridge. Among them was David Willcocks (now Sir David Willcocks), who succeeded another Cliftonian, Boris Ord, as Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge." John Pryer, currently Titular Organist of Alexandra Palace and whose improvisations are nothing short of stunning (at Birmingham Cathedral, a young chorister called David Briggs would often run to the organ console after services to watch and take in what John - who was the Assistant then - was doing) is another of Fox's pupils.

 

 

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

 

Thank-you for the information.......definitely "QI"

 

MM

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

 

Forgive my ignorance, but who on earth was Douglas Fox?

 

MM

 

Organsit of Great St Mary's Cambridge and previously DOM Clifton College, who lost his right arm serving in the

First World War. Probably born around the turn of the 20th century and really an Edwardian - had never heard Weston super Mare pronounced other than Mare as a french pronunciation (with acute accent on e) of the sea, that is until I referred to it as Mare (female horse). Oh for the sheltered life! He played with one arm and two feet and solo-ed the next keyboard down with his thumb. Balanced his breakfast toast in palm of his hand and manipulated the knife somehow to butter! And drove a Morris Minor whose only concession was the indicator (not flasher) control stalk on the LHS of the steering column!

 

PA

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