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New Year's Resolutions


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I often wonder what Bach might have achieved in the nature of true musical expression, if only he hadn't been constrained by fugues and tight contrapuntal textures. The fugal form and the contrapuntal textures may permit certain means of expression, but they are less favourable to others. They hinder freedom of expression, even though Bach used the most difficult contrapuntal techniques. I wonder if Bach wasn't really a clandenstine cultivator of programme music, but one restrained by the rules of the day. ...

 

Sorry, but this is hogwash.

 

Are you posting simply for the sake of posting? The above does not, as far as I can see, say anything constructive.

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Sorry, but this is hogwash.

 

Are you posting simply for the sake of posting?.....................

 

Yes he is...................... but what is unusual about that!! - although, I've noticed, less frequently, of late!

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Yes he is...................... but what is unusual about that!! - although, I've noticed, less frequently, of late!

 

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

 

I think you should have written:-

 

Yes he is, but what is unusual about that? However, I've noticed that he has posted less frequently of late.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Sorry, but this is hogwash.

 

Are you posting simply for the sake of posting? The above does not, as far as I can see, say anything constructive.

 

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

 

Now there is a moral to this, in that one should never believe anything written by anyone associated with Romsey Abbey. :P

 

In point of fact, I had slightly paraphrased and modernised a letter written by Dr Harvey Grace in 1918 to the Musical Times, (of which he was editor), expounding the virtues of programme music for organ.

 

I agree that it says nothing constructive. Indeed, it says much that is quite destructive, and yet, within the context of the period, something with which many people would have agreed and even applauded.

 

We may have no means of knowing how Bach played the organ or whether he did this or that, but the interesting thing is that Mendelssohn introduced to England the concept of antiquariaism and even the study of early music, and it was upon this that the first wave of serious English organ academia was founded. It's interesting to go back to the performing editions of W T Best, who clearly knew what he was doing. There are sources somewhere, (I lost them), which suggest that in Manchester, Kendrick Pyne was advocating "toes only" for Bach.

 

The comment by Harvey Grace demonstrates, I think, how fashion and musical evolution can affect the way we perceive and execute things.

 

That stated, it is fascinating how the music of Bach somehow survives the ordeal, which suggests that playing Bach's works with musical sincerity is more important than playing them in some contrived or conjectural manner.

 

Best,

 

MM

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Now there is a moral to this, in that one should never believe anything written by anyone associated with Romsey Abbey. :P

...

 

I am not sure to whom you refer, MM. However, if you mean me, for the record, I am not associated with Romsey Abbey.

 

Again, your post above says....

 

 

.... nothing. If anything, it just goes round in circles.

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I am not sure to whom you refer, MM. However, if you mean me, for the record, I am not associated with Romsey Abbey.

 

Again, your post above says....

 

 

.... nothing. If anything, it just goes round in circles.

 

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

 

 

Thank God for American scholarship.

 

Best,

 

MM

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I found the Harvey Grace paraphrase interesting. Annoying, yes, but that's an important catalyst to interesting discussion. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and heard many express similar views on both Bach and the Organ Reform Movement.

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I found the Harvey Grace paraphrase interesting. Annoying, yes, but that's an important catalyst to interesting discussion. I grew up in the 60s and 70s and heard many express similar views on both Bach and the Organ Reform Movement.

 

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

 

 

I stumbled across the Harvey Grace comment quite by accident, when I was looking into the era of the orchestral organs of Hope-Jones and those who followed him, as part of the Compton research.

 

Have you ever come across what Berlioz had to say about organs, and especially about organ choruses and mixtures, where he claimed that Mixtures were ridiculous "triads" which caused harmonic congestion?

 

It makes perfect sense of what Hope Jones said about the perfect 8ft sound, (the orchestra) and the silliness of having Picollos at octave and super-octave, doubling up everything at the higher pitches.

 

It makes for fascinating reading, and to discover that Dr Harvey Grace, as a respected organist and commentator, was saying many of the same things about "expression" as Berlioz, Robert Hope-Jones and some of his more enthusiastic followers, demonstrates how ill-informed some of the establishment were.

 

It also ties in with my interest in turn of the century, romantic Bach playing derived from the Berlin school, which had such an impact on American organists, which I like to tag as "expressionist" organ-playing. The fact that it has German origins and not American ones, is quite fascinating, yet only a generation before that in England, certain people were on the right path....Kendrick Pyne, W T Best and, of course, Dolmetch. Guilmant in Paris was another great scholar of early music at about the same time.

 

By some curious sequence of events, it was America which first consolidated early-music scholarship, and the English contributions came from E Power Biggs and our old friend Ralph Downes; others including the Yorkshire-born organ-builder, G Donald-Harrison.

 

 

Best,

 

MM

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Guest Hector5

My resolution - not to volunteer to lend my electronic piano to my local church (or any establishment) ever again. I damaged my back before Christmas lifting the stupid thing to the venue in question, and as a result am playing like a duck, walking and playing as if someone is poking me with an electric cattle prod and am very bad-tempered indeed. Visits to Osteopath have heralded some improvement, or some variation in which part of me is aching and protesting. I finished the end of the year full of optimism with the advent of a brand new organ at church, and the prospect of preparing to give the opening recital. Now, when I am faced with a huge pair of expectant eyes and outstretched arms from one of my 23 month old twins, I inwardly groan, knowing that I will pay for it when I lift them up - although the resulting hug is worth it.

 

Happy new year to you.

 

Paul

 

P.S. My piece to learn (properly) this year is the Organ Sonata by James Lyon

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Paul (Hector5) - agreed. I have a heavy digital piano and I've decided I'll only move it if I'm paid a porterage fee of £200. If that means I never have to move it again that's fine. My back, like yours, has suffered too much in the past and a decent porterage/hire fee means I can pay a "roadie" to do the hard stuff.

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I must admit I'm rather discouraged by the lack of suggestions of any twentieth century Grade VIII-level French repertoire so far.....do you have to be at least diploma level to attempt to learn it? Bach would never have been able to get his fingers around it in that case!

 

You could try the Trois Pièces pour Orgue (Op. 7), by Augustin Barié (1883 - 1915). He qualifies - just. As is often the case with French organists, he was blind from birth and had large hands.

 

The pieces are: Marche, Lamento and Toccata. I would say that they were well written and entirely worthwhile pieces. The Toccata is probably the more fiddly of the three, although the Marche also contains a few awkward moments. However, they are accessible and probably of the required standard.

 

The pieces are published by Durand.

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No more resolutions, then? ...

 

Here is one of mine:

 

I am going to stop watching episodes of Paranormal Witness. There was at least one night during the holiday where I had to stay up unitl about 03:30, when my level of tiredness had exceeded that of my, shall we say, 'uneasiness'.

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Here is one of mine:

 

I am going to stop watching episodes of Paranormal Witness. There was at least one night during the holiday where I had to stay up unitl about 03:30, when my level of tiredness had exceeded that of my, shall we say, 'uneasiness'.

 

--------------------------------------

 

 

I want to invite the team of "Most Haunted" to visit a suitable church, just to hear Yvett Fielding scream when I secretly hide inside an organ in the dark, and operate a suitably creaky swell box before closing the shutters with a bang.

 

It would have to include a contribution from Derek Accora becoming posessed.

 

"Why do I think of the name Henry? He's got a funny hat on and a beard! He's telling me to lay the bearings....What? How? I don't understand."

 

Best,

 

MM

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You could try the Trois Pièces pour Orgue (Op. 7), by Augustin Barié (1883 - 1915). He qualifies - just. As is often the case with French organists, he was blind from birth and had large hands.

 

The pieces are: Marche, Lamento and Toccata. I would say that they were well written and entirely worthwhile pieces. The Toccata is probably the more fiddly of the three, although the Marche also contains a few awkward moments. However, they are accessible and probably of the required standard.

 

The pieces are published by Durand.

 

Thanks for that suggestion, always nice to find a new French toccata I hadn't heard of before. And as they are out of copyright, they are freely downloadable too:

 

http://petrucci.mus.auth.gr/imglnks/usimg/3/3b/IMSLP15707-Bari___3_pieces_pour_orgue.pdf

 

A twentieth century French organ music score for free, how rare is that?

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Thanks for that suggestion, always nice to find a new French toccata I hadn't heard of before.

 

Peter Wright recorded the pieces on the Lewis/Harrison at Southwark for Priory - Great European Organs No.35 - PRCD406. Although it's deleted, it's still available - for a price - through their archive service. If you're quick though, you'll find better deals on Amazon.

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A twentieth century French organ music score for free, how rare is that?

 

Barie's untimely death at the age of 31 meant his music went into the public domain some time earlier. I really enjoy his music - one can only imagine what else he might have produced had he lived longer. The Intermezzo from the Symphony is also great as a lighter piece between more weighty recital items.

 

If you are interested, there is a thesis on Barie and his organ works, viewable here.

 

VA

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