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Carlo Curley RIP


wolsey

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I was pleasantly surprised that my local paper, the Oxford Times, had an item on Carlo Curley's death. There was a reminiscence of his visiting Oxford to play the (then) new Rieger in the cathedral. It is recalled that he had difficulty getting up the spiral stairs to the organ loft; then he is quoted as saying: "I can't get a decent tune out of this goddam box of whistles"; and finally the writer recalls that when CC learnt that it was his birthday, he proceeded to improvise a set of variations on "Happy Birthday", to the annoyance of the starchy cathedral staff.

 

Paul

 

 

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Was this before or after he spent time in Denmark?

 

I'm interested, because Carlo,( having accepted the constraints of a neo-classical instrument), proceeded to record a superb LP of Bach, which quite took my breath away when I bought it. It was Carlo like I'd never heard before or since, and which, at face value, was completely out of character....or was it?

 

I suspect that he set out to silence the critics, and he did it brilliantly, before leaving Denmark and resorting to what he knew and felt best.

 

Calo was nothing if not a clever cookie, with a good instinct for marketing and presentation.

 

Best,

 

MM

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The report said "thirty years ago". Anything more precise would require archive-diving, I guess.

 

Paul

 

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Thanks Paul, because that gives me the answer as pre-dating his time in Denmark, where he was frowned upon by the establishment,

 

I think the exact words he used in conversation with me, were, "Make no mistake, there is a Danish organ mafia, and I always expected to find a horse's head greeting me on every organ bench."

 

Of course, his critics worldwide were usually those who liked to play music pure; especially baroque music, where they tried to present the historically informed approach. It was a continuation of the Virgil Fox v E Power Biggs war; the legacy of which still exists in America, both in terms of performing style and the types of instrument available; Carlo was always on the side of the symphonic style and what I once dubbed the "expressionist" performing-style, which has its origins in pre-war Germany, (to a lesser extent England), and which filtered down to Carlo via Virgil; Fox and the legacy of Middelschulte.

 

Of course, as time went on, he became less overtly flamboyant; replacing that with well practised anecdotes, but one tended to miss those early years in certain respects. I well recall his playing of that "revenge piece" by Derthier, entitled "Christmas." It seems that Gaston Derthier was a pianist, but as part of his academic duties, he was obliged to teach the organ; an instrument which he hated with real passion.

 

Telling this story about this enormously difficult and virtuosic work, Carlo would then pause, point a finger at the audience and end with, "....and if I don't draw every stop, use every key and press every pedal before the end, then my name isn't Carlo Curley. Ladies and gentlemen....fasten your seat-belts!"

 

It was showmanship pure and simple, but what a display of technique and what fantastic console control; not to mention a prodigious memory, with not a single page in site.

 

So when he recorded very pure Bach in an historically informed manner, it was as if he was throwing down the gauntlet and saying, "Well, can YOU do it any better on a stick-organ?"

 

They couldn't and they didn't.

 

Best,

 

MM

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I have been asked by Paul Vaughan, Carlo Curley’s manager, to reproduce here the announcement which he has issued in respect of Carlo’s obsequies. It should be stressed here that Mr Vaughan has been recognised officially and legally as Carlo’s representative in these matters and that messages that may appear in other media and which do not appear to tally with Mr Vaughan’s statement are, therefore, not official and may be viewed accordingly.

 

“The funeral arrangements for the late Carlo Curley are properly in the hands of Paul Vaughan, who was his manager for more than thirty years, and Carlo's good friend the Rev'd Kenneth Crawford, with whom he left clear instructions.

 

Carlo's simple committal and cremation is to be strictly private by request but will be followed later in the year by a Memorial Service in Thanksgiving and Celebration of his Life at which his ashes will be interred to which all will be welcome.

 

Once arrangements are in place, announcements will be posted in the usual way".

 

PV Media Limited 180812

 

If and when further details come my way I will post them here, subject to Mr Vaughan’s approval

 

David Harrison

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Another great individual who has flown over the horizon to Other Realms.

 

I am glad that I made the effort to see and hear him at several locations; Redcliffe, Parr Hall, Liverpool, French church London, plus several lesser but by no means insignificant venues.

 

A true virtuoso whose prodigious talent was sneered at by many who should have known better but by whose lack of breeding prevented them.

Saw him at Liverpool Anglican very recently. He did not look at all well but he, being the true professional did not let this hinder either his style or acerbic wit.

 

Memorable performance, from memory of course, of BVW 564.

 

A performer who plays from memory is allowed to interpret the music in whichever way they think is best. CC certainly did that :)

 

 

" Komm Susser Tod "

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Thin-skinned and easily offended as am I, surely there was no disrespect intended by handsoff.

 

It IS an ironic situation. I'm confident that the Allen Coy. will provide a suitable instrument for the occasion, not unlike the many, many instruments played with joy by our late brother.

 

Interestingly, for Lynnwood Farnam's funeral, some eighty years ago, there was not a note of music. The full choir processed in silence. Very fitting, I think.

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emsgdh and Martin are, of course, quite correct and I thank you for your comments.

 

I find it ironic that the life of Carlo Curley, the most widely known organist of our time, is to be celebrated and remembered in an Abbey with no organ. No more than that.

 

Carlo was one of many who found and still find the beauty of Pershore Abbey breathtaking. As a young teenager I quite often cycled from Stratford-upon-Avon to Pershore, some 22 miles each way, to take in its atmosphere. I shall do my utmost to attend the service.

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..and as I think that the incumbent at Pershore was a long standing friend of CC, regardless of the organ situation it seems a rather good place to hold a memorial service.

 

A

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I have been asked by Carlo's manager, Paul Vaughan, to add the following announcement.

 

David Harrison

 

 

CARLO CURLEY

 

BBC Radio 4 “Last Word”

 

 

 

I have been advised by BBC Radio 4 that the edition of “Last Word” which will include a feature on Carlo will be broadcast on Friday 31st August from 4.00pm

 

 

Paul Vaughan

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..and as I think that the incumbent at Pershore was a long standing friend of CC, regardless of the organ situation it seems a rather good place to hold a memorial service.

 

A

 

I agree, a perfectly suitable location for a memorial service for a highly talented and allround pleasant person who is sadly missed. I see no problem in the fact that the outstandingly beautiful,spiritual, abbey church at Pershore should be the setting scene for this celebration of CCs life and work.

 

In fact the very lack of a box of shrieking whistles and booming foghorns to accompany the service will make the event all the more spiritual and contemplative.

 

If I remenber correctly ,at the funeral service, held at The Madeleine, of a well known Parisian organist/ musician , the organ was not used.

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Details of the Memorial Service from Rev. Kenneth Crawford who is the Vicar of Pershore Abbey and was a close personal friend of CC.

"We can announce, now, that Carlo's Memorial Service will be at Pershore Abbey, Worcestershire, on Friday, 26th October, 2012, at 2.30pm. At the end of the Service, we will inter Carlo's ashes in the Abbey's Memorial Garden. All are welcome to attend this Memorial Service which will be a thanksgiving for, and celebration of, his life. The choir Voces Assumptionis, directed by Alexander Crawford, will sing 'How Lovely are Thy Dwellings Fair' from Brahms' German Requiem and 'In Paradisum' from Durufle's Requiem. The hymns will be (in order) 'O Praise Ye the Lord', 'Abide with Me' (Carlo's favourite), 'The Day Thou Gavest' and 'Mine Eyes have Seen the Glory of the Coming of the Lord'. The Allen Organ Company will provide Carlo's Touring Organ for the Service. Do come and celebrate Carlo's life with us on this day."

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Memorial service and interment of ashes both to be in the UK. I never realised Carlo was such an Anglophile. I was expecting these to take place in his native USA.

 

Good that Allen have provided Carlos old touring workhorse for the occasion so I will have to eat my words re` my previous post! Think we can bet pretty safely that Himself chose the tunes.

Reckon that shares in " Kleenex " will increase as a result of playing that selection :)

 

For some strange reason ,which completely mystifies me, Carlo adopted This Wonderful Country as his adopted Homeland and it is very fitting that he developed such a love for Gloucestershire, and especially Pershore and its wonderful Abbey.

 

Thank heavens he did not deem to be situated in Yorkshire for perpetuity :)

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Good that Allen have provided Carlos old touring workhorse for the occasion so I will have to eat my words re` my previous post! Think we can bet pretty safely that Himself chose the tunes.

Reckon that shares in " Kleenex " will increase as a result of playing that selection :)

 

For some strange reason ,which completely mystifies me, Carlo adopted This Wonderful Country as his adopted Homeland and it is very fitting that he developed such a love for Gloucestershire, and especially Pershore and its wonderful Abbey.

 

Thank heavens he did not deem to be situated in Yorkshire for perpetuity :)

 

 

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

 

 

Is there something wrong with 'God's own country', huh?

 

We have the best organs OF COURSE, the best scenery, the best abbeys and cathedrals AND, were it a separate country, it would have been 10th in the Olympic Games!

 

Joking apart, it IS strange how people find a place and then feel at home there, and I suppose we should be honoured that Carlo loved being here so much.

 

I've never been to Pershore in my life, and I am looking forward to attending the memorial service, all being well.

 

Best,

 

MM

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For some strange reason ,which completely mystifies me, Carlo adopted This Wonderful Country as his adopted Homeland and it is very fitting that he developed such a love for Gloucestershire, and especially Pershore and its wonderful Abbey.

 

Thank heavens he did not deem to be situated in Yorkshire for perpetuity :)

 

I don't understand any of these observations, and it's nothing to do with my being from Yorkshire.

 

CC might have loved Gloucestershire, but not enough to want to live there. When I heard him play at Bridlington Priory his one lament was the difficulty in getting there by train; maybe he should have set up home in Doncaster!

 

The remark about whistles and foghorns was brave - espacially on an organ forum, (although I would be the first to admit to making unmusical noises on the instrument I play) and don't see why it is appropriate to take leave of CC in a place without an organ. It might have been more eloquent to have the service in a place with a wonderful instrument that was very obviously shrouded for the occasion

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I don't understand any of these observations, and it's nothing to do with my being from Yorkshire.

 

CC might have loved Gloucestershire, but not enough to want to live there. When I heard him play at Bridlington Priory his one lament was the difficulty in getting there by train; maybe he should have set up home in Doncaster!

 

The remark about whistles and foghorns was brave - espacially on an organ forum, (although I would be the first to admit to making unmusical noises on the instrument I play) and don't see why it is appropriate to take leave of CC in a place without an organ. It might have been more eloquent to have the service in a place with a wonderful instrument that was very obviously shrouded for the occasion

I understand that the Allen Touring Organ is now in private ownership in the South of England ----- http://cdmnet.org/Ju...es/elec/cjc.htm

 

AND http://uk.prweb.com/...rweb9096167.htm

 

Could it be possible that the presence of this organ was requested by the one who took it on tour for many recitals?

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

 

 

Is there something wrong with 'God's own country', huh?

 

We have the best organs OF COURSE, the best scenery, the best abbeys and cathedrals AND, were it a separate country, it would have been 10th in the Olympic Games!

 

Joking apart...

 

MM

 

Who's joking? What you say is absolutely correct.

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I understand that the Allen Touring Organ is now in private ownership in the South of England ----- http://cdmnet.org/Ju...es/elec/cjc.htm

 

AND http://uk.prweb.com/...rweb9096167.htm

 

Could it be possible that the presence of this organ was requested by the one who took it on tour for many recitals?

 

Carlo has not owned an organ for many years - at least an Allen touring one anyway. Allen would hire out an organ to any venue (that Carlo was performing at) which was described as his organ - of late its been a Quantum 370 (3M, 58 stops). Its this organ that will be used at his Memorial Service. I assume that they kept the same instrument for his own use each time although I am not sure whether it was exclusively for him!

When I hosted him in 2001 I enquired about the cost of having the Allen but the cost was prohibitive due to it having to cross the Irish Sea - we hired a 4M Phoenix locally (at a fraction of the cost) which worked fantastically well and which he happened to rather enjoy, spending the entire afternoon playing it which I believe he would never do on an organ he didn't like.

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