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OrganistOnTheHill

Flamboyant showpieces

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8 hours ago, sbarber49 said:

Though still in copyright, of course.

In  EU, anyway.  Copyright is only 50 years in North America, which means, for example, that Healey Willan comes into public domain at the end of this year.  Bairstow and Whitlock only came out of copyright in the EU a couple of years ago, whereas here they have been in public domain since 1996.  Vaughan Williams is also public domain here (since 2008). 

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Being in the IP Biz, so to speak, I must point out that copyright on various works is not consistent. Firstly, it runs from the death of the author of the original work. Secondly, 50 years is merely the minimum under the Berne Convention - many important jurisdictions run longer; 70 years in the EU, in the US it can run to 95 years. Copyright on a recorded performance of a piece, i.e. the performance itself, runs for 50 years from the publication of the performance, as some well known 60s performers have been complaining about recently.

Now my biz is specifically patents, so I can give no advice on copyright apart from seek advice. However, no official body polices these things, as in all IP matters the rights holder is expected to be reasonably vigilant about the use of their protected creation, and a performer is equally expected to be reasonably conscientious in identifying and informing rights holders.

IMSLP appear to do a good job of indicating what is or may be in copyright, I recall that they went offline a few years ago to adapt their system to give copyright advice and warnings for each piece on it. A huge task.

You can find, as an indication, a list of copyright terms in Wikipedia, at

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries'_copyright_lengths

I know copyright has been discussed on this forum before, so this may well repeat what has already been said. But things like this do change!

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I've always thought it singular that we have to support the children, grandchildren (and possibly generations beyond that) of the originator of a copyright-able work through the royalties which continue to be paid to his/her estate after their death.  I'd love to think that mine could benefit from such an arrangement.  Obviously I took the wrong career path.  I wonder if some organ builders might agree?  Could one of our legal eagles say whether an organ could be copyrighted in any sense, such as the design and appearance of its casework or its sounds, the latter having relevance to today's widespread practice of 'sampling' pipe organs ?  And if not, why not?

CEP

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Whilst no-one begrudges an artist fair recompense for their efforts, copyright has lately become something of a racket. J.S.Bach, for one, would undoubtedly be bankrupt and languishing in jail for plagiarism were he alive today. One wonders whether improvisation itself may have become a dangerous activity, given the possibility of legal action being taken for making reference to a melody in copyright. And God forbid if someone should record it or transcribe it! The only positive side is that churches and concert halls may soon fill up  - with lawyers listening out for organists in the process of infringing copyright. How did Olivier Latry get away with improvising on the Simpsons’ theme? 

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Wasn't Olivier Latry stopped by a court order from performing his own transcription of the Rite of Spring not so long ago?

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1 hour ago, David Drinkell said:

Wasn't Olivier Latry stopped by a court order from performing his own transcription of the Rite of Spring not so long ago?

I was at the Royal Festival Hall when he played for the inauguration of the restored organ in 2014. He explained that he could not, after all, play the organ transcription (as I recall it was a duet to be played with his wife) because the publishers had refused permission. If my memory serves me correctly he played Widor’s Toccata instead. He finished with an improvisation on a theme of Sir George Dyson (the same which had been given to Ralph Downes at the original inauguration - the joke being that Sir George Dyson intensely disliked the RFH instrument).

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Mark Twain has a pithy thing or two to say about the "myth of originality"! Worth looking up.

I don't know the details of the Latry incident, although I remember it being reported, but although he has the rights to his own transcription of the ROS, created through his own skill and sweat, the original work is still someone else's property for the time being. I have a (legitimately bought!)  CD of David Briggs giving a private concert at Gloucester Cathedral not so long ago. IIRC, it's not to hand at the mo, it states in the cover notes that his improvisations on current themes were limited to quoting no more than 5 seconds or so of each theme due to a specific rule somewhere.

I/we could go on at length about this - it is in fact a fascinating topic - but I won't. However, most of us will have facsimiles of 16th/17th music in our collections, and it's always worth looking at the fronticepiece to read the "Letters Patent", "Privilège du Roi" etc granted to the composers. This was their exclusive right to publish, sell and control their works, and make a living without being a burden on the royal patronage.

It's often said that Haendel could have been as good as Bach if he'd applied himself a bit more. But Bach was a court musician, living under the patronage of some prince or church council, and so had a steady income. Haendel was esentially an impresario, who wrote music and staged performances to earn his living.

A fascinating article in Early Music from about 20 years ago goes into great detail about this. Haendel staged most of his oratorios in theatres, not churches, and relied on subscriptions, sales, and concerts to earn his crust. The article estimates that in Londin at the time (or perhaps England, I forget) there were about 50,000 people who could have afforded these subscriptions. The need for protection of original work as your way of living in a precarious time is obvious, even if the details have become distorted in the intervening aeons.

It is said that the earliest known form of creative protection comes from Ancient Greece, c.4BC. If a cook came up with a new dish or recipe that the punters liked, he could prohibit any other cook from copying it for a year, thereby allowing him a reasonable, but not umlimited, opportunity to benefit from his inspiration and creative labour. 

This illustrates two basic principles of copyright; firstly, it is a right to prohibit anyone else pinching your idea, and secondly you still have to put the effort in and hope that someone wants to buy your creation! There are few licences to print money, unfortunately, so probably best not to give up the day job.

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Just a few thoughts. Bach would not have knowingly broken a law on copyright infringement so had there been such a law in his day he would either have not used the music of other composers in his own compositions and arrangements or he’d have obtained the relevant permissions in advance.

North America: I don’t think Canada and the USA have the same copyright laws. The USA situation is, I think, 95 years from publication. Under the older law it was possible for composers to outlive the copyright on their music eg Irving Berlin and Alexander’s Ragtime Band. Any work published in the USA before, I think, 1923 is now public domain. This is very different from the EU and, I think, Canada. Also remember that in jurisdictions with x years after the death of the composer it’s generally the case that in collaborative works, eg operas, songs, musicals, copyright subsists until x years after the death of the last collaborator to die. This affects eg some Puccini operas. The moral is to work with young and healthy lyricists and librettists if you are an old composer if you want your family to benefit most from your work as a composer.

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Yes - Canada is life+50 years, USA is life+75 years.  Both have provision for unknown artists, in which case it is the shorter of 50 years from publication or 75 from creation (Canada) or 95/120 (USA).  Some people in the US are pushing for copyright to be extended to 144 years (basically, they're looking for nothing ever to come out of copyright again, you might think), but this is widely expected to fail.

Recordings here in the UK are now 70 years, not 50 (a recent EU change), except broadcasts are still 50.

Paul 

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The problem is that, whilst copyright law was introduced to protect artists and give them greater incentives to create works of art, the opposite is now happening. So-called copyright trolls are apparently buying up the copyrights to obscure and forgotten works written long ago and then threatening anyone they can find whose work could be remotely construed as bearing some resemblance. Given the very high penalties for infringement (unlimited fines and up to ten years in jail), the level of intimidation experienced upon receiving a threatening letter is likely to be such as to result in a settlement out of court. 

There is surely a difference between plagiarism and art. The plagiarist simply steals someone else’s work for financial gain. But artists in the past have shown their creativity in quoting, developing or transforming something created by someone else. How many composers today are prepared to risk their livelihoods or freedom to write a set of variations on a theme still in copyright? The fear of doing so unintentionally must also be a factor in limiting creativity. The fact that the melody to the song “Yes, We Have No Bananas” can be construed as resembling the opening of the Hallelujah Chorus, or that of Noel Coward’s “London Pride” as resembling Haydn’s tune now used for the German National Anthem, shows how easy it is to claim plagiarism. It looks as if copyright law has gone too far and, far from protecting those who depend on royalties for their living, is acting as a disincentive to creativity and art.

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Resurrecting a slightly old thread, I came across a fairly easy-to-play firework last week - Noel Parisien by Charles Quef.  It's a toccata, easier than the Dubois, perhaps not as easy as the Belier, but quite exciting.  The Quatre Noels are available on IMSLP.

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I always think that the ultimate showpiece is the (original version) Durufle Toccata.....a French toccata par excellence.IMHO, by far the best recording was made by Jane Parker Smith at Blackburn Cathedral many moons ago (early 1970's?) 

However, not all show-stoppers are loud and frightening.  Some are quite delicate and infinitely frightening at the same time. I was all of 15 when I first heard Virgil Fox play the 'Giga' by Marco Enrico Bosse; which is a transcription of one of his own orchestral pieces, transcribed by the composer.

It is difficult.....to say the least.....and requires ultimate control.  Fox  did a wonderful job of playing it very quickly (which I think is right) and he was lifting those fingers as fast as he was putting them down. It is wickedly tricky to play, and in something like 55 years, I have never heard a single performance of it at a recital.  Everyone seems to shy away from it.

Checking through YouTube, the original Virgil Fox recording can be heard, but the recording quality is not good. What IS very good, is the computer rendered version, which is clearly based on Virgil Fox, but with far better sound quality, so perhaps this is the best one to hear first.

Here it is.....fasten your seat-belts!

 

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Evensong at Christ Church Oxford yesterday concluded with Cochereau's marvellous Gigue from Suite de Danses, which I hadn't heard before. Here's a random YouTube performance... though it had percussion at ChCh!

 

 

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On 08/08/2018 at 14:07, pwhodges said:

Yes - Canada is life+50 years, USA is life+75 years.  Both have provision for unknown artists, in which case it is the shorter of 50 years from publication or 75 from creation (Canada) or 95/120 (USA).  Some people in the US are pushing for copyright to be extended to 144 years (basically, they're looking for nothing ever to come out of copyright again, you might think), but this is widely expected to fail.

Recordings here in the UK are now 70 years, not 50 (a recent EU change), except broadcasts are still 50.

Paul 

Copyright is now 70 years, but anything released 50 years before the year that law was passed (2014?) is now in public domain. Tbh, if you haven't made your money out of a recording in that 50 years, it's not going to happen now lol. 

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