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2002

Click here for Feedback Archives: 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008

Have an opinion? Click to post your message directly to our Feedback column below. Opinions expressed in this column are those of the correspondents and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of BACHorgan.com. BACHorgan.com reserves the right to remove any message which it deems offensive and/or not in the spirit of this forum.

"Tempo: To Each His Own"
I think we tend to take things too fast. The intricacies of harmony and polyphony dictate that the tempo be played so that you can hear all the voices. The churches in Europe have more open space so that the sound reverberates at a slower speed. When you play 16th-note figures, they get muddy. So the tempo has to be slower. But the key to this is energy and excitement even at a slower metronome marking. I heard a student of Reger play the Toccata and Fugue in d minor. He played the 16th notes so slow yet, out front, it sounded as though he was playing at a higher rate of speed. The church was an "evangelicherkirche" in Bad Kreuznach, Germany. The sound was full and the voices very clear. As such, taking a piece at a slower tempo may be the answer to a great performance in spite of the piece you are playing. Also, consider that the touch is quite different on those old organs--so it may have been a necessity to play slower.

Have a great day.
Will
12/16/2002

"Tempo: To Each His Own"
Dear Dan:
You are sooooo right on the choice of tempos. This is great advice to players just beginning, as it is to seasoned veterans. I'm a mature player of the organ, but learn something new of value everyday. The best thing as you suggest is to stay within one's self, otherwise things musical simply can fall apart unnecessarily. If the music sounds great to one's self, it is also projected as pleasurable to the listener. Anything else is just a foolish ego trip. Good for you!
Ron Severin
12/16/2002

"First Congregational Beckerath Organ"
Thanks, Mr. Long, for posting First Congregational Church's organ on the Bach organ site. However, instead of my name beneath that great organ, please post the name of the organist at First Church. He is a gifted, talented organist who deserves to be connected with this organ. His name is: G. Dene Barnard. His expertise as an organist makes First Congregational Church in Columbus an organ lover's delight.
Thanks,
Carl E. Miller
carl_e_miller@juno.com
Columbus, Ohio
12/16/2002

"Tempo: To Each His Own"
Dan,
Your post reminded me of an occasion long ago, in high school, in fact. A Union Seminary classmate of my organ teacher came to town (a suburb of Pittsburgh) to play a recital. I had worked on one of the pieces on the program, Bach's "Wachet Auf" (Schuebler), and had my eyes opened when he took it at a clip (say, 108 = quarter note). The chorale tune really popped out, and almost made one want to sing along.

Several years later, when my college choir was on tour in Germany, I was playing as a postlude one of the Orgelbuechlein preludes, and noticed that people in the congregation were singing along, something that would never happen on this side of the pond.
Sherman Hesselgrave
sherman@rosenet.net
Rector
St George's Episcopal Church
Roseburg, OR
12/16/2002

"Tempo: To Each His Own"
Dear Mr. Long,
I am a long-time reader but this is my first attempt at responding to one of your articles. Let me start by stating that I am not an organist. My mainstay in music is as an electric bass player who has spent many years in groups and I have "played out" to dozens of audiences of different sizes. Your writing about selecting the tempo of your performance is what has me writing back. As a soloist, you have the option of setting your own tempo, not so with a band. I can't tell you how many times I have found myself wishing that we hadn't started a piece at warp 2 and wondering if I will be able to get through it without screwing up royally! The biggest complaints usually come from the vocalist who finds him or herself slurring words just to keep up with the music. Please always remember that the audience, most of which can't even keep a steady beat, will never notice if your tempo is a little slow and pride yourself on delivering a grand performance. I enjoy reading every E-Mail from you. Please keep up the the good work and don't sweat the small stuff!
Kevin M. Kortsch
w311969@execpc.com
Bassist/Keyboard dabbler
Mary Kings' Close/K&M Studios
Milwaukee, WI
12/16/2002

"Tempo: To Each His Own"
Dan,
I couldn't agree with you more. Tempo is a "now" happening. I have found myself going "out of the box", experimenting with varying tempi with a given piece and been absolutely delighted with the results, both technically and emotionally.

Thank you and have a wonder-filled holiday.
Gayle
12/16/2002

"Where Did I Go?"
After I waited on line for all the well wishers to wish their wells, I told you that as far as I was concerned you own the G major Fantasia.

The 5-voiced inclusio, folks, sounded like one improvised stream, even the theatrical diminished-seventh cadence seemed inevitable. When I think of how many finger substitutions you had to do to keep those 5 lines distinct, and yet, each had complete melodic integrity from entrance to deceptive cadence.

The ending was a revelation. You drew your kinetic energy out of the pent-up individual voices from the peremptory termination of the ricercar. The filigree sounded as though each was sputtering out the last fizzle of its energy.

The opening was well calculated to culminate in the 5-voiced ricercar, again seemingly inevitably. One could argue that you overmilked the transition with your recoiled ritardando into the ricercar. But, hey, Sebastian Bach was not trying to be subtle here. He knew his audience just as well as you know yours, qualitatively different though it be.

Congratulations!
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
12/13/2002

"Final Countdown Commencing..."
This preparation has been viscerally painful to me, including the damaged finger, and it's not even happening to me. But I wish you spiritual fulfillment during the recital, and a joyful aftermath.

To compensate for my empathy with your agony, I jazzed up an old favorite (I've gone at least mad if not crossover--surely the signs were there that this was coming!):
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/concert8.htm
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles
http://www,virtuallybaroque.com/
11/24/2002

"Final Countdown Commencing..."
I enjoyed the sharing of your as well as others thoughts and feelings on the topic of preparation for 'the' event! I'm not alone... Have a 'great' time, and all will be 'swell!'
Tom La Fontaine
tomlafontaine@yahoo.com
11/24/2002

"Final Countdown Commencing..."
What a gorgeous console! I wish you luck and a blissful concert. Wish I could be there to hear it. But the distance is a little too large to cover after I finish my service at noon (Pacific Time)...I don't think I could make it if I immediately hopped a plane.

Knock their socks off!!!
Beckie Henry
webhenry@pacbell.net
Organist
Chapel of the Resurrection - Spring Lake Village
11/24/2002

"What Does Blue Food Taste Like?"
It's fun to write about music, but so often "you have to be there." Experiencing a live performance is best, (or being a live performance yourself), and 3rd best is hearing a good recording. That's why I feel sad that I can rarely get any of my piano students or their families to go to a live concert of classical music. They hesitate to go, thinking they would feel strange and out of place.
On another note, I enjoy BACHorgan.com since whenever I log on I know I don't have to apologize because I play an obscure, unpopular instrument or explain what I do, since we're all organists. Often when people at a party ask, "What do you do?" and I reply "I'm an organist," many people think, "Oh, organs are what they play at weddings and baseball games." I receive a blank stare and they change the subject.
Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
substitute organist
Bethesda, MD
11/18/2002

"What Does Blue Food Taste Like?"
I just had occasion to describe some pieces while putting up a concert page on my website. Sometimes I would resort to technicalities, describing fugue subject entrances and strettos and registrations, other times I could come up with a short phrase that described my feelings about the piece. One of my favorites was for an relatively little known choral prelude, BWV 1090: "Flowing scales accompany the first part of this one-manual setting, then a softer and lilting texture, followed by a strong rhythm pattern neatly finished by a slightly plaintive cadence." As with fine wine, there must be a finish. Link to more of these is available on:
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/concerts.htm
Some of the trios are not yet finished, and I spotted some typos, so be kind if responding and be creative if borrowing.
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles CA
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/
11/16/2002

"Two Quick Notes from a Recital Run-Through"
Some fingerings are not readily apparent, particularly when one has to maintain the integrity of a line as it passes between the hands (which of course happens a lot in Bach). Sometimes it is only the intense practice sessions that precede a public performance which bring to light a fingering that makes for a smoother rendition. In that case the "old fingerings" were probably not arrived at systematically, but instead derived simply out of habits of sight reading. So we're not talking about replacing something good with something perhaps a little better. Rather, this might be the first well considered fingering applied to the passage at all.

Break a leg at the recital. I'll be there with bells on, but I will try my best to keep them quiet.
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
11/13/2002

"All of a Piece"
My web browser is sluggish, this morning. I fear it's the freezing temperatures here, in the Western NC mountains. I'm unable even to open your
website - or my own.

It's great you mentioned working up to a recital, because yesterday, WNC Chapter AGO sponsored a workshop with Doctors Sally Cherrington and Stuart Weber, Organist/college professor and Chiroptractor, respectively. They spoke about "Organ Playing is a Contact Sport." You can see a write-up of it at http://www.agohq.org/chapters/westernnorthcarolina/.

They mentioned shoulders hunched from tension, etc., as did your Rampage. I can identify with that feeling. It took my chiropractor and myself (and liberal doses of Chondroitin and Glucoseamine sulfates) years to eliminate the calcification that was keeping my shoulders permanently hunched (a byproduct of 20 years of naval servitude, in my case).

Thanks again for the weekly reminder of our frailties and foibles.
Bill
mailhtims@charter.net
http://webpages.charter.net/mailhtims/
11/3/2002

"So What Am I Playing?"
Good planning, Dan. There is wisdom in beginning with a very familiar piece to "get rid of jitters" and you incorporate another principle which led me to practice pieces "backwards" from the end section to the beginning: always proceed to what you know better. In the middle you chose the very deserving B minor Prelude and Fugue and the multi-mood G Major Fantasia. I long to see many lesser-known pieces programmed regularly, if not in recitals then in services. It's one of the reasons I chose not to memorize a small number of pieces but explore the whole repertoire (Bach and others) in my performing days. The other reasons were that I was very bad at memorizing and a very good sight reader.
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com
10/25/2002

"So What Am I Playing?"
Hi Dan--
Wish I could hear your program. It sounds fantastic!!!! Love that BACH!!! I have a concert to play at St. Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco in March. If you don't mind, I will incorporate some of your ideas into that program. Of course, I will be expected to play more than Bach--some French and maybe some American composers as well. This is a concert of 45-60 minutes in length.
I really enjoyed reading the story from my sub-dean Beckie Henry. I knew part of the story, but not as much as she put into the article on your web page. She is a delightful person to know and work with. She has boundless energy and is a constant source of delight and support for me.
Douglas L. DeForeest
Dean
Redwood Empire Chapter
Santa Rosa, CA
10/24/2002

"Six Weeks and Counting"
Dan, thank you for sharing your thoughts. It is always nice to know how others prepare for a special performance. Mental stability and stamina can make or break a performance, can't it? One of my organ teachers introduced me to 'mini goals' several years ago. It works wonders. Instead of worrying about getting to the bottom of the page, you can pick the end of a line or even a phrase - your mind stays attentive and alert to that point, then you focus ahead to the next chosen goal. This method allows a sane level of mental confidence. My young students find the mini-goal method helpful -- it seems to keep their minds fresh and ready for the next challenge.
Lois J Miller
ljmiller@iastate.edu
Organist
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Ames, IA
10/14/2002

"Six Weeks and Counting"
Hi Dan,
I am sure you can muster the confidence in yourself to endure whatever. We somehow manage to when our noses are pressed against the millstone. We can grind away at the notes, but put in the tension of a performance and bingo, the adrenaline kicks in and away we go. I know your performance will be super. Way to go!
Gayle
10/14/2002

"Six Weeks and Counting"
Mental preparation and performance is the daily bread of those of us in liturgical services. Repertoire is the least of our challenges. Responses, solos, choir, dead spots that need improvisations (8 bars, a theme, a mini composition), PLUS monkey business at the altar, in the procession, and finally the madding crowd that makes up the congregation. Phew! After two or three of these a week, our work is less like a recital and more like the Ring Cycle! Good luck, Dan!
Peter Stapleton
10/14/2002

"Six Weeks and Counting"
Dan,
You're right about endurance, etc. When I am preparing for a member's recital, I start concentrating on the concert pretty much when I learn of the date and time and give my selection, etc. What is good, in addition to the technical aspect, mental and physical, is to get a lot of rest. Your adrenalin will have started and the music will be flowing in your mind continually. You just need to close your mind for a short time and just rest. That will give your physical part of playing that endurance. Take time to just close your eyes and meditate and relax spiritually. You will be surprised by the results.

I hope this helps.

Suona bene--play well.
Will
10/14/2002

"Six Weeks and Counting; also "
You're right about knowing the music but needing to practice the whole program for endurance, and for maintaining mental control. The organist at my family's church, Julie E., played the Dupre g minor fugue as a postlude and she commented that she needed that "tryout" for pacing her mental control and concentration when she played it at an upcoming Halloween recital. Then on another subject, excuse the lateness of this response -- I thought your description of your service on September 11th sounded very beautiful, effective, moving, and appropriate - I would have loved to be walking down the street, hear the music coming out the door, and to have gone in to listen and reflect. All I did on 9/11 was "channel surfing" on TV and I thought about lighting a candle and ringing a bell, (one suggestion to commemorate that day that I'd read about), but I decided my piano student would find it too strange, so I did nothing except talk about her school's remembrance of it.
Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
substitute organist
Bethesda, MD
10/14/2002

"Six Weeks and Counting"
Mental preparation is a valuable asset, and one about which I learned by necessity. I played a Lenten Consert, my first organ concert ever, and beforehand I gave little thought to mental preparedness. The morning of the concert, I was talking with the church secretary who rightly observed that I wasn't the least nervous. She then departed from propriety and asked, "Aren't you nervous? I'd be climbing walls, about now, with a concert less than an hour away..." and on, and on. She talked me right into a case of nerves, so I spent half an hour preparing myself. I knew the music like the back of my hand, and I knew the audience, too. I treated the occasion as I do every Sunday at the organ, realized that the only audience was God, the others just on-lookers. God heard every time I sat down to play and he knows how I play and loves me anyway.

In the end, one of the other organists in the audience told me I had nothing to be ashamed about, which I accepted as a wonderful compliment. I still have, as many performers have, performance anxiety, but I calm it with the assurance that the on-lookers just want to get in on the fringe of God's command performance.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church
Marion NC
http://webpages.charter.net/mailhtims/
10/14/2002

"How Great Bach's Time Was"
Ah, the 18th century. The age of reason, of fixed forms and Buxtehude. A composer draws on his time in history including Bach's certainty of vocation, living wage, and towering insight into his time, his predecessors, and his religious convictions. I would sit in the Dreikonigskirche in Frankfurt in the '50s and hear Helmut Walcha improvise fugues with such artistry we could have been in that bygone time which Walcha's immersion in Bach could recreate. Today Boston University has awarded its annual prizes for contemporary composition. The first features woeful sprechstimme, crunches of percussion, and strings that foretell The Finality of All Things. Another prizewinner has the seeds of a film score in it as long as the film needs no theme. Otherwise you can hear suspense, fear, and the car chase if there's a click track and a good cast. My teachers, card-carrying members of the International Society of Contemporary Music, thought this stuff was the berries in the sixties and nothing has changed. Market driven music gives us handsome rock. Technology gives us the synthesizer, an orchestra that doesn't make mistakes. Our time expresses itself in its own way as Bach's time did. Leipzig fed on fugue. We feed on rap. Just different that's all. The truly starving don't know what to do with food. Keep feeding us, Dan.
Peter Stapleton
10/8/2002

"Food for Thought"
Shorter recitals are a great idea, and as far as being cut in stone, perhaps they shouldn't be rigid, with a printed bulletin and all, but I think a little planning of what order to play them in is a good idea. So many factors come in: dynamics, mood, style, and surprisingly, key. People say of the Art of the Fugue when played through in one concert "It's an evening in D minor." Similarly, if you play three fortissimo preludes and fugues in a row this could get a little tiresome. Some of the same techniques you learned in theory and composition (using the circle of fifths and third-related keys, avoiding the stagnation of staying in one key and the famous old "diabolus in musica"--augmented 4th or diminished fifth) are also good programming practice. To help myself in planning CDs,and as a resource to the organ community, I sorted all the organ works of Bach by their key on my website - http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/list1.htm as well as many other ways. You can listen to samples to help plan your all-Bach recital. James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles/CA
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/
9/24/2002

"September 11, 2002"
Hi Dan,
I've just read your account re the service you played for on the 11th, and found it very moving. I watched the service held at S.Paul's and felt very close to you all.
Which church are you organist of, if you don't mind me asking?
Although I don't play "in public" any more, its great to be able to relate to the situations in your "weekly rampage"!!
All the best,
Paul Janczarek-Ballard
p_janczarekballard@hotmail.com
9/15/2002

"September 11, 2002"
Hello, Dan:
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to comment on things musical for this week's September 11. This was my contribution to the national focus on remembering the events of last year's September 11. The mourning and the grieving have not yet ceased.

Memorial Meditations -- One Nation, Under God -- A series of daily musical meditations during the lunch hour, Monday-Friday. Each meditation began by the tolling of the church bell. Our church is considered to be 'downtown' -- the weather was beautiful -- we were able to fling open the doors to welcome people in and to let our music waft outwards.

Inspired by a longing for a peaceful and secure United States of America, by the grieving for all of the unknown families and children of Sept. 11 and past tragedies, and drawing inspiration from the strength of my faith and from the ideals instilled in me by my family experiences, I used Dan's 'Elegy for Freedom' as well as Charles Callahan's 'Patriotic Suite' and Mark Hayes' and Lori Line's patriotic piano arrangements as guideposts in selecting my music. There was a wide variety of keyboard and chime music chosen to enhance those ideas, including chorale preludes by Bach family members, Max Reger, Healy Willan, Camil van Hulse, and more contemporary hymn-based chorales by Emma Lou Diemer, Wilbur Held, Gordon Young, Calvin Hampton and Jonathan Orwig. There were also folk tune arrangements -- in particular, there is a lovely version of Shenandoah in 'Music of the Islands' published by Kevin Mayhew. Piano music included a wide variety of selections from the classical literature to Scott Joplin rags (how much more American can you get?) such as 'Solace' and 'Weeping Willow,' to hymn tune and folk tune arrangements by contemporary American composers. One of my favorite selections for almost any occasion is Joel Raney's Bind Us Together (which he combines with Blest Be the Tie That Binds) in his volume, "Overtures of Praise" published by Hope Publishing. Thursday's meditation was provided by a local organ enthusiast who is much more comfortable improvising than playing his notes from the page. His meditation included Bach, Brahms and Beethoven themes as well as personal arrangements of hymn tunes and folk tunes. His arrangement of 'God Bless America' was so stirring (prefaced by 'How Great Thou Art) that I asked him to return on Friday to do them again.

Does anyone know of a published organ arrangement of "God Bless America?"

Especially in times like these, I hear appreciative comments about how music soothes the soul. If our music could heal a nation and beyond, wouldn't that be wonderful?
Lois J. Miller
ljmiller@iastate.edu
Organist
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Ames, IA
9/14/2002

"September 11, 2002"
Thank you so much for mentioning "Elegy for Freedom" in your September 6 Rampage. I used it for the memorial service on 9/11/02 as well as my regular Sunday service on the 8th. I had some interesting responses to the piece...I play for a retirement community on Sundays and one of our residents was a world-class organist in her day. She said it was "fine - just long enough." (I wondered if that was like "you didn't play too loud today.") I also had people at the other service who wanted me to play it again. I played it at the beginning and the end of the service with different registrations to give it a different mood... and still they wanted me to play it again. It is such a beautiful piece. Thank you so much for sharing it.
Beckie Henry
orgelstompen@yahoo.com
Organist
Chapel of the Resurrection/Spring Lake Village
Santa Rosa/CA
9/13/2002

"Tempus Fugit...Regardless"
As good fortune would have it, I played your Elegy last Sunday. I found it, at first, to be easily played (one of my parishioners was tickled with the way I turned the pages), but as I practiced it during the week, I found it also easily expressed my own emotions.

Let me explain about the turning of pages: I was raised as a 'cellist, not a pianist nor (God forbid!) an organist. As a 'cellist, though, I had to memorize everything I was to play in solo performance, and even the etudes that I was to play for my next Saturday morning lesson! The result was that I never learned to turn pages easily. When I started playing the piano (self taught), most of what I played was contained on two opposing pages and so the necessity to learn to turn pages wasn't present. On the odd chance there was a page turn, I would stop, announce to anyone listening, "Page Turn," turn the page and continue as though nothing was amiss. I do that today at home, just for fun.

At church, when faced with the necessity to turn pages, I normally have the pages offset so I won't turn two or more pages by accident, then peel off the page and place it on the bench beside me. It makes for amusing da capos, and even more amusing dal segnos.

Once, at a church many miles away from where I now live (Asheville NC), I was accompanying the organist (I was Assistant Organist) as he sang a vocal solo. Knowing my difficulty with page turns, I had memorized the piece. He, knowing my difficulty with page turns, but not trusting my memorization, created a two-page arrangememt of the four pages (taped them together two and two), so there would be only one page turn. Conveniently, there was a two measure rest in the left hand to facilitate that turn. As I peeled off the first double page, though, the second page caught the wind of it and followed it off the music desk. As I placed the first page on the bench next to me, the second page flowed over my left hand and onto the floor.

Running on stored energy, that is to say relying on the memorized music, I watched as it landed on the floor in a position where I could still read it (isn't presbyopia wonderful?), so I continued playing, glancing over my shoulder at the printed notes on the floor. A choir member, not understanding my extraordinary eyesight, arose from her seat, picked up the page and placed it back onto the music desk -- upside down! At first I tried to do as Mozart would have, to read the music upside down, but I found I couldn't even find the place where I was playing. Still, having memorized it, I played on. I looked over my shoulder at the "helpful" choir member and mouthed the words, "It's upside down," and she, slowly realizing her error, as slowly arose from her seat, approached the organ console and righted the page.

The congregation was moved to laughter, and I could do nothing more than continue to play, though by that time blinded by tears of my own laughter. Believe it or not, having turned the pages sloppily, reading the page from the floor, fumbling to find my place upside down and laughing at the comedy of it all, I missed not one note! It was the best performance of any piece of music in my entire career (and that in its infancy).

Now onto more serious matters. As a 20 year veteran (and retiree) of the U.S. Navy, I was quite shocked when the towers and the Pentagon were struck, incredulous as the towers fell, and enraged when they aired the clip of bin Laden expressing his approval. I still feel all three emotions, as I did at the time of the attack, and while I feel the effort is just beginning, I fully support our President in his counter attack.

May God have mercy on us all.
Bill
mailhtims@charter.net
http://webpages.charter.net/mailhtims/
9/7/2002

"Tempus Fugit...Regardless"
These days I only do subbing as an organist, and so learning new repertoire has to be regarded as something of a luxury. I played a service at a certain church last Wednesday, and did the B minor cantilena from Mendelssohn's Sonata V as a prelude, a movement most of us have played umpteen times. As part of my preliminary practice I went on and read through the sonata's final, contrapuntal movement, probably the only organ or piano work of Mendelssohn's I've never really mastered. (He is my favorite composer.)

I have decided that I want this Sonata entire to be my offering next Wednesday (the 11th), when I will be playing at a different church. The first two movements will together make a pensive prelude to the service, and I will learn the headlong finale in time to do it justice as a life-affirmative postlude. The recurrence of the opening chorale as the concluding panel to this movement, which makes little sense musically if you didn't hear the sonata from the beginning, probably accounts for my not having used the Allegro maestoso as a postlude before.

But the work as a whole, framing this service, seems to be saying that we should let ourselves experience life to the full, even given all its vicissitudes. The cantilena is sad, and when the texture thins out at the end, it is as if the soul is losing the last of his grip on faith. But in the course of things, we stir ourselves again (the finale featuring the concluding peroration of the chorale theme) to passion and steadfast faith in God's resplendence reflected in all his/her creation, including us. So be it.

All of which goes to say that truly great art works, such as those this site is consecrated to, speak to us meaningfully even as we rehearse experiences that could never have been imagined by the men and women who created them. Let us all take solace in this, and move deliberately forward.
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
9/7/2002

"Taming the Dreaded Alto Clef"
I'm happy to see the alto clef issue coming up again, as I am an organist who loves to use the alto clef for the notation of the left hand staff in organ music. For many pieces the alto clef is in fact more suitable than the violin and bass clefs. On the other hand, I view it as an advantage that the number of different clefs one has to learn has decreased since the time of Bach. In order to further simplify the clef learning effort I would like to ask the organ player community what they think about using the one-octave-lower g clef like it is commonly used for tenor voices in choir music. While it is nice to be able to read and play viola (and string quartet) music, it may be more important for church organists to be able to read and play choir music. According to my experience, it is far easier to learn the one-octave-lower g clef for the left hand staff in organ music than to learn the alto clef. To summarize, the one-octave-lower g clef contains the advantages of the alto clef (it is only one step aside) but it involves a substantially lower learning effort. So, why shouldn't we use this clef for the left hand? Sometimes it is good to break with tradition in order to simplify things!
Henrik Behrens
http://www.mp3.com/HenrikBehrens
8/15/2002

"Sullied Genius"
Excellent article! I love Art so I was very happy to read about it and this might make you laugh, I think I will try some of the techniques! I also love photography and I think I will get some inspiration from my photography for my painting and drawing too. Very interesting and informative stuff and I enjoyed reading all about it.
have a good day everyone!
Michelle
michelleyoushell@hotmail.com
musician
8/14/2002

"Sullied Genius"
I agree Bach probably wouldn't be much interested in synthesizers as such. However, I think he'd be pleased with digital-sampled pipe-organ stops and musical instruments. At least by the quality produced by Johannus Orgelbouw in Holland.

I've found many personal and prayer-like hymns sound good when played as a digital-sampled instruments string quartet. Or, if they have a Refrain, play the Refrain as a string quintet via a Contrabass.
Pauline Phillips
ProphecySpirit@aol.com
Forums Moderator
Sunnydale Academy Church
Centralia, Missouri
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/JohannusOrgansSchool/
8/13/2002

"Sullied Genius"
I'm certainly not going to defend the position of the organist who phones in his service and takes a Sunday off, though I admire his bravery for trusting people to push the buttons while he's away. However, since I use MIDI as a "prosthetic aid" to express myself, and have worked diligently to create clean but musical interpretations of the complete organ works of J. S, Bach, I'm asking for a special dispensation from this condemnation of modern technology. Unless you believe strongly in the Darwinian principle that people shouldn't take life-prolonging pills or use extending devices like prosthetic arms (Stephen Hawking comes to mind), but just watch TV all day and die earlier rather than sooner, I think the benefits of technology to the disabled should be given just a little consideration.
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com
8/13/2002

"MTV Invasion"
I enjoyed the article about Brittany Spears invading the music schools in Germany and I appreciated your realistic view of what is happening. I think that this is just the sign of the times and Rock music is a part of todays age and that Bach is still Bach and I love them both.
thanks
have a good day!
Michelle
michelleyoushell@hotmail.com
musician
Allentown PA
http://msnusers.com/AvenueofRecoveryandSpiritualInspiration/
8/13/2002

"Sullied Genius"
Like you, I think Bach would be amused with synthesizers, nothing more. I had occasion to play with one last weekend. I was fascinated and equally disappointed with its vast array of different sounds and lack of pure, true and recognizable voices. I played with it for hours, but I would hate to have to play it in concert, let alone a service of worship.

True to the subject article, I use software to create and even test arrangements of hymns and anthems for use in worship, though I have abandoned Finale in favor of the less costly and (for me) more usable Mozart. And there are times I have used MIDI to "play the service for me." I have the luxury of pre-recording MIDI files so, when I need a vacation day, I can e-mail my accompaniments to the church and drive off to enjoy God's creation for the weekend. There are some at the church who know how to plug the disk in and start the MIDI player at the appropriate time on the appropriate file. Believe me, though, the congregation can tell the difference between me and the MIDI. I listen to the congregation as I play, whereas the MIDI, though it's me playing, will leave them in the dust, not compensating for the mood of the day, adding to lethargy, rather than inspiring.
Bill Smith
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church
Marion NC
http://webpages.charter.net/mailhtims/
8/13/2002

"F Major Toccata of Bach"
Dan, your analysis of the fugue was great! I never learned the fugue, since the toccata was so difficult. I learned it to play in a recital series back in the late '70's. I was inspired to learn it after hearing the whole thing as a background for some scenes in the British movie "IF" (it was either in the 60's or 70's); it was so exciting. When I played it in the recital, I made a few mistakes; I could do better now, if I had time to practice it.
Susan Burkhalter
Scastlekep@aol.com
Substitute organist, piano teacher
Bethesda, MD
8/9/2002

"MTV Invasion, Stage II: Misery Loves Company"
From Bach to Britney -- what a change. Does anyone know who even writes the "music" today? Does anyone care? They remember the recording "artist," if that much.

I remember my 'Cello teacher asking me, "What's so great about the Beetles? Anybody can write that kind of music -- It doesn't require much brain power or musical training.

I think Germany has missed the point, though. The quest is not to teach what the children like now, but to train their minds to reach beyond what they know and grow into the rich traditions that espouse and define who they are.
Bill Smith (real name)
mailhtims@charter.net
Organist
St. John's Episcopal Church
Marion NC
http://webpages.charter.net/mailhtims/
8/8/2002

"Fugue in F Major - Quirky Diamond In the Rough"
Thanks Dan! Actually BWV 540 was the first major fugue of Bach that I learned, and I really enjoyed discovering the hidden gems within the polyphony. I really think this fugue should be played more often, it is so life-affirming. My favorite parts are when it all comes together near the end, Measures 152-to the end. Did you play the fugue as written or did you come up with ornamentation along the way?
Lana Krakovskiy
webmaster@organfocus.com
New York, NY
http://www.organfocus.com
8/7/2002

"FREE Organ Music"
Thanks for everything, Dan! The Preludes look great. I work on getting Book II down on Finale from time to time, but can't promise delivery of that in less than a few months, because other projects are on line (two words, please) before it. I have already had wonderful e-mail contact with many in your fold, who seem to like my Midsummer Night's Dream numbers, but don't quite know what to do with them. That is what decided me to get these Preludes down at long last (although some people have xeroxes of some of the hand-written Urtext). They are eminently more practical for the Sunday (and Saturday, and in our case Wednesday) organist.

Or most of the Preludes are, anyway. I hope I haven't scared people off with my story about the perpetual motion one in 5/8 time (my last missive). I assure you, most of them sound as though they came out of some musty Victorian recueil you found holding up one of the corners of the wind chest.

My best to everyone, and particularly the dedicatee.
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
8/6/2002

"The Wurlitzer @ Smithsonian"
Thank you for the report on Lowell Ayars' Wurlitzer Theater Organ
now at the Smithsonian Institute!

Approximately 1976, Mr. Ayars invited me to his home to demonstrate this wonderful organ. He described the purchase and shipping, the planning and construction of an addition to his home, and the installation of the Wurlitzer.

You renewed very happy memories for me. The visit suddenly has much added meaning. Many times I wondered about where the organ was being housed. Now, I hope it will be put on display so that perhaps I can hear it one more time.
Bob Heinly
bobal@fast.net
7/26/2002

"The Legend of the Bobcat Boogie"
Your story was hilarious! I really think you should write a book, and include such bits as "the history of toasters," "getting to the wedding" etc. I had a similar experience as a pianist when I was in grade school. I, too, learned using the books of John Schaum (I still use many of them with my own piano students and the sons of Mr. Schaum have updated them, they're very attractive). Anyhow, in 6th grade I was asked to play piano at the big instrumental music spring concert (funny how we remember the names of our grade school music teachers - Mr. Brusiloff, and Mrs. Damron (8th grade chorus). What a thrill! I "wowed" them with some top 40's sheet music of "I was a Big Man Yesterday but boy you oughta see me now-ow"! and another piece, perhaps "the Original Boogie Woogie," also a classical number.
Susan Burkhalter
Scastlekep@aol.com
freelance organist, piano teacher
local churches (sub)
Bethesda, MD
7/25/2002

"The Legend of the Bobcat Boogie"
Once again, I find myself writing you after doing the two substitute Wednesday services at Fifth Church. The people were thrilled last week after I played the C major Prelude as a postlude (q.v., my last posting), even applauding at the end. And the soloist at this church has programmed some of my Mrs. Eddy settings from time to time.

I guess I got cocky, Dan, and didn't really, as you capitalize, KNOW MY AUDIENCE. I thought, Gee, these people really like my music, and seem to consider it a special treat that I as a substutute was the one playing it. So, today I programmed my more challenging C-sharp minor Prelude as a postlude.

I don't regret it, but I learned something, and that is that no matter how predisposed people are to a new musical experience, sometimes we just have to accept the fact that it can be beyond their ken. It's a big organ in a very reverberant room, and the piece is in a fast five, which doubtless alienated them. (They undoubtedly heard this as one beat too few, or one too many, depending on the passage!) The Prelude also has a weird middle section, where stacked appoggiature get resolved only on the last (extra...) of the five eighth notes in several successive measures. No-one was impolite, and I don't think they'll run away if they see my name listed as composer again, but I could tell it went over like a lead balloon.

Then I come home to your Rampage, which reinforces the same message. I thought I knew this audience and went out on a limb. I'll be subbing there again next month, and you can be sure that my postlude then will be not only loud enough, but one they can get excited to hear, all within the limits of their present vocabulary.

I'm subbing at your church this Sunday. I promise to leave my 5/8 Prelude at home!
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
7/24/2002

"Here Comes the Organist!"
Dan, what a misadventure! If you can rent the 1954 Ealing Studio comedy "Happy Is the Bride" on VHS, by all means do so. The wedding preparations and scene are hilarious, especially when Joyce Grenfell, the organist, wails to Hattie Jacques when the bridal couple have been missing all night and all day, "What shall I play??" Jacques thunders "Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow!" Instead, Grenfell starts Handel's celebrated Largo. The rest I shall not spoil for you. I practically had to be carried out of the theatre twenty minutes later.
gcr
7/18/2002

"Here Comes the Organist!"
Inasmuch as you say that you were relating your story for the sake of out-of-towners, I felt when it came in last night that you had taken quite a few antecedents for granted. For example, they might not realize how bad the traffic problem has gotten in New York. How many people who can afford to take cabs take mass transit, just because it is so dependable. (Except when it isn't, but in any case you have a lot of competition for any cabs that might be on the street, irrespective of the traffic concerns.) Deciding against relying on a cab to get through traffic from where you live to Battery Park, in a half hour, had nothing to do with miserliness. It was common sense, plain and simple. Give yourself credit, guy.

Today I was subbing at Fifth Church, which has a noon Testimony Meeting (in addition to an evening one). Now that I have my C major Prelude down on Finale, I wanted to try it on their big organ, as a postlude. But because of traffic I did not play it at noon, only this evening. I got too late to the church today to register it or practice it beforehand, and I substituted a different work, even though the C major was listed. Why was I late?

Traffic and a bad cab driver, who went the way he went to keep me longer in the cab, so the fare would be greater. Pretending a language barrier prevented his getting my explicit instructions. (At least I didn't end up in Staten Island....)

As I sat in traffic, fuming, I wondered whether I'd ever be able to laugh about the experience, the way you seem to be able to about yours this past week-end.

So far, guy? No. (But check back with me later....)

(Also, everybody wonders how the unrehearsed solo went.)
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
7/17/2002

"Here Comes the Organist!"
Been there done that and got the T Shirt-have also had two or three weddings on the same day in 3 different churches covering for friends-makes it real interesting when someone in the wedding party is late at the first one-Incidentally I wont get theatre tickets or make dinner plans if I have a wedding at 4PM or 5 PM on a Saturday. I'm sure our comrades in the Midwest dont have these problems, but that is part of the gig in NYC.
Brian Bombarde32'
7/16/2002

"Here Comes the Organist!"
Don the way you told this tale--it sounded like a detective tale told by another resident (fictional) of New York and a former real life resident--- Nero Wolfe and Mickey Spillane (who now lives in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. O if you go looking for Wolfe's brownstone---you'll end up in the Hudson.

I have had more horror rides in cabs there than I can recall.
I am amazed that the cops never seem to ticket them for speeding.

As one who is also an Organist --please do not call that umhm dry sounding thing an Organ---it is only an imitation of one--call it a electronic synthesizer if you will but not.

I am not surprized that you could not get 32' or even low pedal C at 16' to sound as this is one area where the real thing separates the Organ from fake imitators and the reason for this is that it is almost impossible to produce these sounds at these pitches through speakers and when it can be done the speakers and other equipment that make this possible can cost almost the cost of several ranks of pipes.
Ludwig van Beethoven
ludwigvan_beethoven
7/16/2002

"Here Comes the Organist!"
Oh don, I forgot to mention that the crescendo pedal has been around before General motors or Ford. It was invented during the 19th century and use to be totally mechanical.
Ludwig van Beethoven
ludwigvan_beethoven@yahoo.com
7/16/2002

"An Appleton Anthology"
Lois Regestein has presented in this CD a work of sensitivity, high artistry and historical importance.Years in the making, the Appleton Anthology should be the one organ recording for any library to buy this year if only one can fit in the budget. If you're not a library, buy it anyway. Any keyboard musician can learn from and enjoy this outstanding work.
Peter Stapleton
7/10/2002

"Elegy"
Thanks, Dan, for your beautiful "Elegy For Freedom". I played it as an offertory this past Sunday. Received many compliments.
It's lovely in a very simple way.
Your website is wonderful! Keep up the fine work.
Janice Dunphy
jandunphy@aol.com
Principal Organist
Church of The Messiah UM
Westerville, OH 43081
7/3/2002

"To Work Is Inhuman, To Create Divine"
Dan --
I'm a little concerned about the tenor of your essay today. From my viewpoint, there is value in augmenting a pipe organ with digital voices if the voices are of a high-quality manufacture and the tonal scheme of the old and new has been well designed. It has taken me years and years to come around to the realization that if a small pipe organ, such as ours at First Christian Church in Ames, can be augmented by high-quality digital voices such as color stops and substantial pedal stops, then it is an excellent way to continue to promote the classic organ literature rather than not play it at all because of limited resources. Stress: ... promote the classic organ literature!

What the outgoing president of the AGO has done in his church is similar to our project at FCC. Our organ chamber is too small even to add a substantial 16' pedal rank to lead the congregation's singing. Only a 16' Gedackt rank has been in place for 50 years, and therefore, the organ really needed some oomph. An array of Ahlborn 16' voices will be a blessing for us, in addition to some other beautiful color voice choices. We are also using the highest quality speakers available for the installation, which is crucial for authentic pipe sound projection. Upon completion of the project, it will truly be a versatile instrument.

Our intent is to provide a good solid foundation and add some variety, not to design an instrument that will 'boom' the congregation out of their seats!

It is so important to have a decent instrument for our much-loved Bach, Mendelssohn and Reger; Guillain, Franck, Vierne, J-L Lefebure-Wely and Langlais, and the Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and American music. Please be assured that with the proper installation and with the services of a skilled tuner who knows how to blend the wind pipes and the digital voices, a 'mixed installation' will provide a wonderful instrument. Our project will be completed by the end of the year. We are so looking forward to having a joyful sounding instrument rather than the present nothing-to-get-excited about instrument.

Thank you for giving us the opportunity to respond to this week's rampage....

Have a great week, Dan!
Lois in Ames
7/1/2002

"To Work Is Inhuman, To Create Divine"
Work and play for me have always been interchangeable, my great job has always been to make work playful (and some say, play unnecessarily complex). Now that I am officially unemployed I still put in more than 40 hours a week "playing," although I could watch television all day and probably be better off financially, since hobbies require an occasional investment of money.

I think a better distinction than "work vs. play" might be "what I want others to do vs. what others require me to do." This implies that I do not share a common goal with others, so some form of compromise or communication would seem to be in order. Given human nature, this is not always possible, so one puts out feelers for a better situation, with the risk that something new might turn out to be even worse than the present circumstance.

As to Pipe vs. Electronic, let's face it, nothing in the organ world is of the financial scope that would create a single headline if some massive fraud was uncovered (and believe me, I've discovered some huge misrepresentations in both areas, especially in the area of statements made while fund-raising for a new organ).

I've never had a modern sampled electronic instrument to actually play with, although I've been programming them in MIDI for a year or more, and I find the individual voicing that takes place now removes "cookie-cutter" from the pejorative labels one can apply. Even the AGO recommends electronic 32' stops for practical reasons, and allows for certain uses of MIDI.

I think the best summary of my response to Dan's eloquent Rampage is that we are involved with the organ because we love it, find its literature unique and adore its lore: it is in all the best senses of the term an avocation, no matter how we earn our daily bread.
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles CA
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com
7/1/2002

"Free Workshop #2"
So of course I hafta enter my two cents:
1. I get the hymns 12 hours in advance. If I have a chorale prelude that fits, I ditch my plan and insert that puppy.
2. Believe it or not, the weather is an influence. If I have an introspective piece and the weather's fine, fine. Conversely, if it rains, they may need something peppier. Or so may I.
3. I played the Reger Benedictus with real poetry yesterday. I was up for it, wanted it, needed it. It went great.
4. Since I get hymns on short notice, there's a small window period for practice, and yes, I practice hymns, assigning to them the highest priority. In the course of practice, it may appear to need a free harmonization. 2 weeks ago, I did a free intro, free 1st verse, harmony on 2nd verse right out of the book, then the free version with added trumpet calls at the end of each phrase. Hard to foresee such a trip.
5. Improvisation still is important to me. On occasion a noisy recap of the last hymn with interludes, or for the offertory something I haven't been able to get out of my head. Here again, inspiration calls the shot. If I'm up to improvise, I do. Embarrassingly or not, the folks sometimes applaud an improv more than a set piece I walk through. Regardless of results, ranging from adequate to inspired, this practice keeps me improvising.

So I applaud your suggestions, and then wanna use intuition as intuition presents itself.
PS
6/24/2002

"FREE Workshop #2"
Hi----
I liked your points about practice time. These are things I have tried to do over my many years as a church organist. However, there is one practice problem you didn't mention. The visitor. How often when trying to practice does a staff member, pastor, church member, etc. hear the organ and think that is a great time to discuss something or just visit. "I don't want to disturb you, but-----" You can't lock them out---they have keys. You can't be rude and throw them out. Sometimes resuming your playing while they are talking works, but they are usually determined to continue the discussion anyway.
Just a comment for you to ponder. I really enjoy your e-mails.
Doug
6/24/2002

"your free organ workshop of June 24th"
Those were good ideas about how to plan and practice organ for services. I always plan what music to play about 2 months, even 3, in advance, and I follow some of your suggestions already. Also I plan to buy the Seymour Bernstein book, many piano teachers have mentioned it, and Mr. Bernstein came to the DC area in person to give a master class with some children! (I couldn't go to it, but my friend is giving me her notes)
Susan Burkhalter
Scastlekep@aol.com
Bethesda, MD
6/24/2002

"The Heart of Fugue"
Dear Meister,

Your piece on Fugue brings joy and inspiration.

What it does not bring are, to begin, independence of the fingers, supplety of the hand, fingering, pedaling, articulation of subject, countersubject and episode, and the inevitable registration decisions required of 1) each organ and 2) each room which in the US are notorious for being padded parlors with zero resonance, especially for fugue playing.

But back to inspiration. I enjoy the organ as an harmonic medium though it's taught as a contrapuntal one. But of course I love and aspire to counterpoint. As you recall, Nadia Boulanger loved counterpoint but she taught canon and inventions as the sine qua non of composition, improvisation and performance.

Organists have three contrapuntal alternatives to fugue that may yield joy and better artistic results: bikinium, canon, and the 2-part invention. I won't soon forget my beginning harpsichord lessons devoted to portions of a single JSB invention!!

I like your idea of summer counterpoint. Given my humble skills, I think I'll haul out the lovely two-part sections of the Clerambault Suites. This will give me time to revisit some JSB inventions to play on the organ.

Some day, though, SOME DAY, I will play the Dupre g minor fugue. Meanwhile I'm off the clunkier fugues (the 8 Little). While it's a glorious form in most (not all) of the Master's work, it's a taskmaster, and the music isn't always better for being a fugue.
PS
6/21/2002

"The Spiritual Bach"
I have thought for years that Bach transmitted his own personal religious/spiritual connection to God to me through his music. A spiritual feeling profoundly affects me listening to both the cantatas and the organ music. I am awed by it and listening to Bach is an important part of my own spiritual life. I recently read a web article on the cantatas by Jan Koster (http://odur.let.rug.nl/Linguistics/diversen/bach/cantatas/introduction.html) that seemed to deny this spiritual aspect of Bach. He didn't reply to my response to his article. Anyone else read this article? Any comments?
George
rodney@lefurjah.org
King George, VA
6/19/2002

"GUEST RAMPAGE: Survival of the Fittest, My Foot!"
What money? "It's the economy, stupid."
(anonymous)
6/12/2002

"GUEST RAMPAGE: Survival of the Fittest, My Foot!"
Dear Anonymous II,
Advocacy groups have nanobucks compared to digital marketers. They'd have to employ more salesfolk, more lobbyists, and what they'd get back in tiny instruments would not pay back any profit to speak of. I'm amazed pipes are doing as well as they are. Pipes are architecture dependent and digitals can alter the acoustics of a dead building.
(anonymous)
6/12/2002

"GUEST RAMPAGE: Survival of the Fittest, My Foot!"
Dear anonymous,
The economy? I don't get that. Like the church, the advocacy groups have plenty of money. I don't think anyone held back their AGO dues this year because of the economy. And the organ contracts for this year and next are already signed. The problem is that the pipe organ guys are craftsmen and they're booked solid and the digital guys are corporations and they're going for market share and winning. If the advocacy groups spent as much time in the churches with their propaganda as the digital guys do, churches wouldn't be led into thinking they're getting a better deal with the digital stuff.
Anonymous II
6/12/2002

"Food for Thought"
"Roll out those . . ." I'd go along with an offer of beer included in the contract for an organist position; but preferably not in barrels. Also when I was in high school we used to square dance to "those lazy, hazy days of summer"; finally, on the music of J.S. Bach, I practically worship the guy & agree with what you said about the effect his music has, both upon the performer and the audience - it's mystical. I am sometimes intimidated psychologically by having to play his more difficult things, though.
Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
freelance organist, piano teacher
here and there
Bethesda, MD
6/7/2002

"Food for Thought"
Thanks, Dan,
Back to Bach it is!!
Indeed, good stuff there.
If he were among us, I would tell him to his face, "I like the way you think."
That is the highest compliment I could pay to such genius.
Have a super week!!!
Gayle
6/6/2002

"Food for Thought"
Amen, brother Dan!!!
The "Top Forty" radio stations manage to play the same trite things once an hour before they discard same. Music of true beauty will endure forever and ever, Hallelujah!
Jeanne Suehr
"Summer Sub"
6/6/2002

"Food for Thought"
Keep up the pressure on playing Bach, Dan. Down here in Florida, except for a "Very Few" people, I hear "play the light stuff" even at our Chapter Showcase recitals. I do not know why the church should "Dumb Down" anything it stands for. I do not believe that it brings more people when that course is followed. I have seen this happen in those church situations where they started a "contemporary Service." The growth is from services already in place for the most part. When I was in Washington, DC I started a Bach Festival at the Church of the Ascension and St. Agnes which ran for 20 years. I had, of course, a Rector who was active in his support of it. We didn't even have any money to support it, but we had a wonderful building with ideal acoustics. We didn't even have a really fine organ. When we started the Festival, I had put together a small instrument modeled after the Aeolian Skinner at the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard. The Rector and I talked Dr. Vernon DeTar into coming down for that kick-off. We had a local high school choral Director bring his honors chorus, and maybe one or two other recitals. The "Free Will" offerings were there to sustain future and current expenses (programs). It grew each year after that. Unfortunately when that Rector retired it all ended.
Bob Shone
Rcshone@aol.com
6/5/2002

"too much Bach???"
Recently I presented an organ recital of late 19th and 20th century music, in particular, works by Josef Rheinberger, Cesar Franck, Volker Braeutigam, and Louis Vierne. One of the first comments I received afterwards was how wonderful it was to hear a good program that did not include anything by Bach!

Now I agree that the organ music of Herr Bach forms the foundation of the organist's repertoire and should be frequently included in programs and always part of practice sessions. However, I believe we do the public's image of the organ harm if we rely too heavily or too frequently on works by this composer for programs or church services.

There is a great deal of organ music composed before Bach even lived that deserves wider recognition. And the works of 19th and 20th century composers contains such a wealth of material to pick from that it is quite easy to forget the organ existed prior to 1800.

For good reasons Bach will remain the greatest composer of organ music; but let's not forget to include the other gems that are out there as well.
Robin High
Lincoln, NE
6/5/2002

"Roll Out Those..."
In answer to your first question, about where the church got the beer: from the brewery, of course! More seriously, in northern Europe, the inclusion of beer in the contract would not have been unusual, since beer was the bottled water of the day. Reliable sources of safe drinking water in cities and town were not common (the true advantage of boiling was not yet know), but beer was known to be safe. Even up until the 19th century, everyone -- even children -- drank beer. Now, what is not well known is that beer was made in several different strengths, and there was one, called 'simple', which was very low in alcohol: this is the one normally drunk, morning, noon, and night.

More than you ever wanted to know!
Lee Ridgway
6/3/2002

"The Attack of the Clones"
It has always been my opinion that the things that we consider to make are lives easier, also make them more complicated. In my world I seem to need to fax everything first to clients and also mail the original. It simply adds a step. Technology, though wonderful in many ways, often hinders a simplier life style. Organs that are digital seem very impersonal to me. Though I more than appreciate the ability of a skilled organist to lift music to the glory of the skies, I also occasionally enjoy a note out of sequence to bring me back to reality and to the fact that a skilled human life is making that instrument sing through all the complexities of the keyboard. I have heard both, and I will take the traditional pipe organ hands down!
Carol Peterson
Minneapolis, MN
5/21/2002

"The Attack of the Clones"
I always think the Digital Organ is a different instrument to the Pipe Organ. There are many things you can do with a Digital box that just can't be done with pipes, but then it really becomes something different, and is no longer an organ...

There should always be room for both.
Dave Wade
dave.wade@hp.com
5/21/2002

"The Attack of the Clones"
A small contribution to the discussion this week about pipe organs(read: REAL organs) versus electronic organs (Clone or replica or whatever).

For practising purposes Electronic organs are a real blessing. In particular in European houses (which in most cases are much smaller than USA houses) where space is at a premium.

But for a church an electronic organ should not even be considered as an option. There is no substitute for the real thing. Even the argument that with digital sampling the sound is virtually the same then still it should not be done.
Compare this with other instruments: has it ever been considered to replace the violin section of an orchestra with a digital sampled instrument and then amplifictaion could reduce the number of violin players to 1. What a cost saving.....
Are we going to replace a Stradivarius
by a digital sampled replica (even when it sound the same..)

I assume that you all agree that the above sounds ridiculous but in fact the same is happening when we use an electronic organ as substitute for a real organ.

Music is art and not an engineering business. Art needs the real thing at all times.

Even while sometimes the sound of electronics may be close, the real pipe organ will be recongnized and appreciated by most organ players (artists) in the world.
A good personal method to judge if an organ is artistic or not is simply by playing. Most electronic organs (but also some poor quality pipe organs) will start to bore the player within 1-2 hours. When playing the real quality an organ simply does not bore at all. When I am playing a good organ I don't want to stop playing at all. No matter how primitive this method may seem I know many, many organist who experience the same feeling. Quality allows to play on for ever and the clone makes you to want to do something else after a while.
Christian J. Faddegon
c.faddegon@fpturbo.com
organist
German Church
The Hague, The Netherlands
5/21/2002

"The Attack of the Clones"
Thank you, Dan for the Digital story.
I do imagine how wonderful it will feel every time I sit down to practice.
I do have a quite satisfactory pipe organ.
Digital effects are fairly awesome, however each pipe organ has its own personality, unique in its own setting. That is a wonder, indeed. Very distinguishable.
Have a great week.
Gayle
5/21/2002

"BWV 543 Is Shrinking!"
Dan,
The last message I posted on your site concerns the creative person's subjective time warpage with resepect to music, and you show the same thing happening to the re-creator as well. I once expended enormous energy writing a quintet for oboe and strings, took everything out of me, and I felt as if I had created a masterwork. Someone asked me how long it was and I guessed "twelve minutes or so." But then some musicians read through it and it was over in about six minutes! The details along the way (landmarks, in your metaphor) are indeed magnified the first time through the terrain, and nobody ever notices all those painstaking details the way the composer does whilst writing. Thanks for widening the context and pointing up that this universal phenomenon is just part of the human condition!
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
5/16/2002

"Calgary Organ Competition"
Dan,
Just spent a glorious three days as a volunteer for the Calgary Organ Competition at Spivey Hall. What talent! It was an inspiration to hear these wonderful organists and realize that the organ will never die as long as we have such talent.
Will
5/12/2002

"WhereintheheckisHogNorton?"
Very funny! Hysterical! Keep up the good pork!
Kenn
5/11/2002

"DVD Store"
Amazon.com is usually better about listing contents when they're selling CDs. I'm afraid I wouldn't spend $30 for a DVD called Bach's Greatest Hits without knowing what the editors chose to include!
James Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Los Angeles, California
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com
5/8/2002

"WhereintheheckisHogNorton?"
Hi, Dan. I really enjoyed your piggish plays on words after relating the insult from The Bean Tree by Barbara Kingsolver. I don't think you should be insulted by that passage that mentioned pigs playing the organ. When my children were young we read many children's books where pigs were the characters. Pigs are very popular in children's books because they're adorable and are wonderful subjects for artists to draw and paint. We still have some cute stuffed pigs from that era.
Susan Burkhalter
5/8/2002

"WhereintheheckisHogNorton?"
I think it's character assassination to imply that organists in general and HogNorton in particular are lesser creatures. HogNorton played a lot of repertoire, but preferred works of H. Schweinemann, S. Schnitzel, S. Kotelette etc. He played from memory; it is said that this was because he once took his music home to the sty. His playing style was criticized as "slop-py," and it is in fact clear that his diet may have been the cause. His favorite hymn is "My Sweet Lard." His lullaby was "Schinkenlied." He liked to dance the porka. His children's favorite bedtime routine was a reading of the pig tale "Drei Kleine Schweine," followed by a spirited round of "This Little Piggie Went to Market." He himself, like all organists existing on a high intellectual plane, preferred to read essays by Sir Francis Bacon, in the original Pig-Latin. He created a musical piece based on the novel "Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic," as well as of course "My Fair Sow" based on George Bernard Shaw's "Pigmalion." Like many other organists, he was unjustly called a prig (or was that a typo?). His motto was "Why Go to the Packer When You Could Go to a Tracker?" Therefore, the idea that organists are somehow lesser members of society is simply a pigment of your Mama's imagination, Barbara Kingsolver.
Dorry Shaddock
5/7/2002

"WhereintheheckisHogNorton?"
Dan,
I can't stop from roaring. Thank you for today's issue.
It was greatly needed and appreciated.
Lately I've been taking this job too seriously.

Keep up the super work.
Gayle
5/7/2002

"The Life Expectancy of Toasters"
Dan
Certainly enjoyed your "Toaster" commentary - especially since I recently, with great joy, deposited our "microwave" (Baldwin Microwaveform) in a large construction dumpster !!!!! Alas, the old Baldwin was "toasting" itself from the inside out! Ug..........
(PS the Microwave was replaced by a new Orgue Letourneau ! YEA !!!!)
Beth
Florida
4/22/2002

"The Life Expectancy of Toasters"
Good point about toasters....they DO last forever if not abused, or are usually easily fixed.

Same thing with Allen organs. No Allen has ever been retired due to lack of suitable spares. Not to say they should be kept running forever any more than one should keep driving a 1950 Cadillac...but it is the user's choice, not the manufacturer forcing one to upgrade.

Just came home from playing an organ recital for 40 people in a private home...90th birthday party of a retired lady organist with all her church friends. Organ in her house is an Allen Protege AP-30 (3 manuals, 40 stops, self contained speakers, Renaissance technology.)

Program:
Buxtehude: Prelude, Fugue and Chaccone
Bach: Whither Shall I Flee (Schubler #2)
Burkhardt; Partita on "All Glory, Laud and Honor"
Purcell, arr. Drummond Wolff: Purcell Suite (using MIDI)
Brahe: "Bless This House" (it was also a House Warming Party)
Bach/Fox: Now Thank We All Our God

I'd like to see a TOASTER play THIS concert. <grin>

Enjoying your posts
Regards,
George L. Butterfield
Past Dean
San Diego AGO chapter
among other things
4/22/2002

"Is My Prelude Too Loud?"
Or, worst of all, Is My Offertory Too Long?

Time-and-space warpage is an occupational hazard when you improvise in real time at a service. But for a long period in my life that was the only context in which I let myself do so. (It wasn't worth the trouble if there was no audience, in other words.)

Since you and I both play in Science Churches, we're used to 1) listing our service music and 2) not expecting there to be anyone who would know the difference. But I got into trouble when subbing at Ninth Church. The chair of the music committee, Iris Maasdamme, began bragging about her countryman Flor Peeters when I would list any improvisations I did as Miniature XL (or whatever number over 35...) by him. (Knowing of course he wouldn't mind.)

I'm so pleased with the incredibly supportive response from your fold to my previous musical offerings (Pedalexercitium and the Shakespeare album) that I've made it my business to get some of these inscribed (or, in a few cases, taped) improvised performances down on Finale.

Book I of my 24 Preludes (1-12) is done. Book II is done except for the F minor, where two contestants are battling it out. (Literally, whichever one gets done first wins.) I was going to tell you about this project, which I'd like to dedicate to you, when it was all done. But instead you are hearing about it at the same time as everybody else.

Maybe just this once you'll forgive me for not getting to your newsletter right away. They make an announcement about the postlude at every service at 9th Church, by the way. But everyone ignores it, of course. You see why David Hurd calls this "Doormat Music."

So, my Preludes are consecrated to the earlier use of the doormat--from the other direction! No, the Offertory is the only time we really have them!

Love, Victor
Victor Frost
VFrost@gis.net
4/17/2002

"The Only Constant Is Change"
I guess the only constant IS change, Dan, since I remember when you proudly purchased those first organ shoes; but now I'M sitting here at YOUR high school (teaching chemistry) and YOU'RE out and about playing the organ!

While preparing for a recital once, I was practicing "He who will suffer God" from the Orgelbuchlein every chance I could get, and used it softly and slowly on some nice flutes as an offertory. The congregation loved it, and I was not used to them commenting much about quiet pieces.

I like your idea of exchanging this info. I'll be watching to see what others suggest. Thanks for your idea about the Fantasy in C - I'll give it a try this summer on the "substitute" trail!
Jeanne Suehr
4/16/2002

"The Only Constant Is Change"
Thanks, Dan for your first workshop. The three Bach pieces you offer are not only accessible to the player, but not overly well-known, so they intrigue and nourish the player as well. If anybody wants to hear my interpretations, a complete list of all the Bach organ works by BWV number is available at the URL listed below.
Jim Pressler
jocr@toast.net
Virtually Baroque
Los Angeles
http://www.virtuallybaroque.com/list6.htm
4/16/2002

"Postlude on Easter"
Hi, Dan, the article on APVL'S BY Joe Ganist was just hilarious!(appropriate postlude volume level). I played the Widor toccata this Easter, but one time I played Carillon Sortie by Henri Mulet.
Susan Burkhalter
scastlekep@aol.com
Interim Organist, Kirkwood Presbyterian
Bethesda, Maryland
4/10/2002

"Spotlight On a Professional Concern"
Some more Widor alternatives that I've enjoyed using on my "off-years" when Widor takes a break:
Dubois - Toccata
Weaver - Toccata
Gigout -Grand choeur et dialogue
I enjoy your website!
Rebecca te Velde
rgtevelde@aol.com
Organist
First Presbyterian Church
Stillwater, OK
4/10/2002

"Spotlight On a Professional Concern"
I judge the playing of a postlude by the congregation for that day. I can tell generally by the temperament of the congregation the type of postlude to play and how loud.
Will
4/10/2002

"Spotlight On a Professional Concern"
A pastor once told me, after I asked him if the postlude was too loud, to "let her rip - Get 'em up, on their feet and march 'em out!!!! After the ensuing hysteria, I didn't worry about that occasional comment behind my back about how loud I was or how much louder it could be. I always smile at the concern from colleagues. Since my congregation does not remain for the postlude or remain quiet for the postlude, this is not a problem. Thank you for making me smile once again and remember a super pastor, friend.
Gayle
4/10/2002

"The Strife is O'er, Alleluia!"
Dan - thank you for the Easter message - as to Postlude for Easter day - acouple of good ones come to mind - Just the Prelude in B Major of Dupre' - also the Tournemire - Victimae Paschalis improvisation (trans. by Durufle') I like your Bach choices, however. Easter blessings to you
Bob Shone
4/4/2002

"Alternative to Widor"
How about the Farnam, "O filii et filiae" (variant spellings) it's really not a bad piece.
R Jay Williamson
4/3/2002

"The Strife is O'er, Alleluia!"
I played the Finale from Vierne's 1st Symphony for two of my four Easter Services. I played Easter Victory by Charles Callahan for the other two. I would love to hear Easter anthem suggestions from others. My choir sang the Rutter Christ the Lord is Risen Again.
Virginia Koepkey
virginiack@aol.com
Music Director
St. Mark's Episcopal
Venice, FL
4/3/2002

"Widor alternative"
By the time I had the choir ready and had exhaled from Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday, I realized I hadn't time to practice! So I pulled out the Rutter "toccata in 7" because it's light, fast, and people like it - and let's face it, it's not that hard!
K. Bailey
kbailey@fbcanderson.org
Minister of Music and Arts
First Baptist Church
Anderson IN USA
http://www.fbcanderson.org
4/3/2002

"The Strife is O'er, Alleluia!"
How about the Cyril Jenkins "Night" and "Dawn" for the Easter Prelude (if you have an expressive organ with solo tubs), and the Percy Fletcher "Festival Toccata" for the Postlude? Did those this year on the 1929 III/45 unchanged E.M. Skinner.
gordon clark ramsey
gramsey@mail.hartford.edu
Second Church of Christ, Scientist, Hartford
West Hartford, CT

4/3/2002

"The Strife is O'er, Alleluia!"
The Farnham mentioned earlier is one of my favorites. I'm also very fond of the Dupre "Variations on a Noel." Years ago a colleague chided me for playing a "Christmas piece." I reminded him that there were both Easter and Christmas carols (noels). This tune is set to the Easter carol "Now the Green Blade Riseth." Of course, the Dupre is a tour-de-force, but worth the effort.
Clarice Stegall
Indianapolis IN
4/3/2002




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