MusingMuso Posted October 11, 2006 Share Posted October 11, 2006 This could be the start of a fascinatng thread; perhaps covering rather more than pure organ-playing or showmanship. Virgil Fox was so many things to so many people, and not all them complimentary or comfortable, yet he left a legacy, a legend and even an source of inspiration for many who might aspire to the dizzy virtuosity of a top concert-organist. Perhaps we live in a less robust and confident age; constantly concerning ourselves with matters historical or musically tasteful, whereas Virgil Fox (and others who try to follow in his wake) played, and continue to play, to a different gallery. Perhaps Fox really was a freak, in the sense that he could play the clown, poke fun at J S Bach, entertain, astonish, annoy, display extraordinary innate musicianship or thoroughly appalling taste as the case may be, thrill, delight, inspire....the list of superlatives and extremes is almost endless. His lifestyle was personally and professionally risky, and but for good fortune, he may well have gone the way of Liberace or Rock Hudson. His "pool parties" are still talked about to this day, and yet he managed to stay on the right side of the press and those who could have damaged him had they so chosen to do so. Others have followed his example, such as Carlo Curley and Cameron Carpenter, but none even begin to come close to the complete phenomenon which was Virgil Fox. If there is one really annoying thing about the Virgil Fox legacy, it is the mass of contradictions. On the one hand, a man who could really drop into the gutter of shameless attention seeking and self-promotion, and yet, just when you are about to dismiss him as a musical jester, you hear something special and unique; perhaps something so powerful, that the exact opposite springs to mind. However, in fairness to the memory of the man, perhaps we should start with a tribute. The following two video-clips show two movements of the Jongen "Sinfonie Concertante," and in spite of the limited sound-quality and poor video-quality, it is possibly the most thrilling piece of organ-playing ever captured on camera. The absolute mastery of music, instrument and acoustic is astounding, but so too is the total awareness and control of the musical circumstance; all played from memory before a rapt audience. Personally, when I first watched this, I got shivers running up and down my neck.....a real spine-tingler and absolutely spell-binding to watch. If there is one thing that really gets to me in this video, it is the absolute JOY that Fox demonstrates as he turns to the conductor and shakes his hand; having just rattled his way through the Toccata without any apparent effort. As this thread unfolds (and I hope we can stay on track, much as we like to ramble) I will post other URL's which demonstrate the many facets of the phenomenon that was Virgil Fox. Fasten your safety belts! MM Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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