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Vierne at Tenbury


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I'm wondering whether anyone here can help me solve a little mystery. For 12 years (1973–85) I worked at St Michael's College, Tenbury Wells. Researching for a history of the College and the organ I came across a reference to the fact that, in May 1925, Louis Vierne visited and played a recital. I have so far been unable to uncover any details of this visit. Quite by chance, the other day, I stumbled upon a website [philosopherswheel.com/Vierne] which revealed that Vierne, after playing at Hinckley on 5th May 1925, wrote Les Cloches de Hinckley on the train to Tenbury. This information came apparently from an organ music forum [Magle.dk] posted by 'Thierry59'. If anyone can shed light on any of this then I would be delighted. Thank you ... Roger Judd 

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I don't know the answer to this, but, bearing in mind the well-known photo of Vierne composing, I'm wondering how he managed to compose anything on a train, although I suppose he might have dictated it to Madeleine Richepin. However, Rollin Smith says in his book on Vierne that both the third and fourth suites were composed at Lunchon during July and August 1927. He dates the Hinckley recital 3 May 1925 (not 5 May) and says, "The carillon in the bell tower played every three hours throughout the night and reportedly kept Vierne awake. Having memorized the tune, he later composed Les Cloches de Hinckley."

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Unless this has been done already, probably the best lines of enquiry would be (1) contemporary local newspaper reports, usually available in County record offices or archives (2) similar reports in Musical Opinion or possibly The Organ.  (Musical Opinion’s archived reports involve subscription).  A recital at Tenbury by Vierne surely would not have gone unreported.

Since writing the above, there is an extensive and detailed article about Vierne in The Musical Times by Felix Aprahamian, but again, full access requires subscription.  (These are the details: Felix Aprahamian, The Musical Times Vol. 111, No. 1526 (Apr., 1970), pp. 430-432).  No certainty that this will supply the answer, but Aprahamian would be a very knowledgable and reliable source.

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Many thanks to both Rowland and Vox Humana for their comments.

À propos the composition of the Les Cloches ... is it possible that Vierne would have remembered the chime in 1927, however irritating it was in 1925?

À propos possible mentions of this recital at St Michael's, I have checked local journals to no success so far. I'll look into Musical Opinion, and the like shortly ... thanks for those thoughts.

I am really intrigued by the Magle.dk organ forum ... does anyone use it now, or has in the past? I have tried to get into it, but with no success. The quote in my original post is the first time that I've seen Vierne's visit to St Michael's mentioned.

One more question ... is there in France a society that keeps Vierne's archive - Les Amis de Louis Vierne or something similar? I can't find anything like that.

Many thanks.

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The Magle forum seems to be alive and well.  Yes, it is a useful and well-established one.  Did you mean you can't register as a new user, or can't log in as an existing one?  I've just tested whether I can log in and it was trouble free, for what it's worth.

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4 hours ago, Rowland Wateridge said:

Since writing the above, there is an extensive and detailed article about Vierne in The Musical Times by Felix Aprahamian, but again, full access requires subscription.  (These are the details: Felix Aprahamian, The Musical Times Vol. 111, No. 1526 (Apr., 1970), pp. 430-432).

I have this issue. Aprahamian's article is not very substantial and he gives no references. About half of it is biography and much of the remainder deals with the symphonies. Of the piece in question he says only, "The last piece of the Third Suite, the famous Carillon de Westminster, Vierne dedicated to Henry Willis III, while the last piece of the Fourth Suite, the less often played Les Cloches de Hinckley, is inscribed 'à mon ami J. W. Iberson Esq Organiste à Sheffield'.

JSTOR has all the MT issues from 1925, but without a subscription it's not easy to tell whether Vierne's recital was mentioned.
https://www.jstor.org/journal/musicaltimes

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi Roger

  I'm doing an MA in Music with the OU so I have access to the Musical Times archive. In the September 1925 issue, under the Recitals section, page 829:

M. Louis Vierne, St Michael's, Tenbury - Toccata and Fugue in D minor, Bach; Pastorale and Piece Heroique, Franck; Prelude and Fugure in B, Saint-Saens; Legend, Berceuse, Carillon, and Canzona, Vierne; Cantabile, Adagio, and Toccata (Symphony No. 5), Widor.

Hope that helps.

James.

 

 

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