You love pipe organ music and Johann Sebastian Bach or you wouldn't be here. But that's not the whole story, is it? Tell how you discovered the pipe organ or J.S. Bach by emailing and it will be posted here.


I come from a long line of Lutheran pastors and school teachers. My family was always involved in the church and the church's music program. I started playing the piano when I was 10 and after years of playing the piano in church, I became interested in the new sounds and music of the organ. Jim Gladstone, the minister of music at my church, was great in showing me the cool stuff of the pipe organ. After years of watching and practicing music on the organ, I got the chance to play a few hymns in a service. I was hooked from that point on. I spent many summers at the Lutheran Summer Music program, studying organ with some of the best teachers in the world. I am now minister of music at a Lutheran church in Florida. I direct the vocal and bell choirs while playing three services each weekend.

Presentation: "Introduction to the Pipe Voices of the Organ" by Ryan Hostler Questionnaire: JONATHAN DIMMOCK

What is your most favorite Bach organ work to play or listen to, and why?
The Passacaglia is my favorite. It seems to be tireless in its capacity to unfold and show depth of character.

What edition(s) do you use?
The Bärenreiter NBA.

Whose interpretation of Bach's organ works do you enjoy and why?
Harold Vogel, Bill Porter. They are both expressive and historically informed. They don't play academically.

Who is/was your favorite teacher?
I assume you mean for the music of Bach (because it varies depending on the repertoire). Bill Porter.

What is your favorite organ stop and why?
Principal 8 foot. If it's not a desert island sound, then the whole organ can't make up for it.

Your main organ:
What is it?
What kind of action?
How many manuals?
How many ranks?
11 stops

What and where is your most favorite organ?
Jacobikirche in Hamburg (Schnitger)

Finally, what do you think about when you are playing a Bach organ piece?
Utter joy, relaxation, shaping the music, being present in the moment.

More information about Jonathan Dimmock:
Recordings by Jonathan Dimmock


I grew up in a small farm village near Dayton, Ohio. It was settled mostly by Pennsylvania Dutch in the early 1800s and everything was simple protestant churches - Lutheran, Reformed, (these two shared the same church for about 40 years), United Brethren (ala Otterbein), then Methodist in the middle 1800s, Church of God later and finally a Roman Catholic church in 1941. The old churches got pipe organs early, but were very unsophisticated. I grew up in the Reformed church - a German/Swiss Calvinistic group like the Presbyterians in Scotland and the Dutch Reformed church in Holland. There was no liturgy like the Lutherans, but we had the typical organ music every Sunday: variations on 19th century opera tunes (Berceuse from Joclyn, etc) plus the hymns that we sang.

In my late teenage years, I began to learn something about Johann Sebastian Bach and his ideas on church music. This converted me to becoming Lutheran and I thought about building organs for my vocation. As I learned more, I began to see how the old organs were used in the protestant churches to aid the singing of their hymns. Since that was the type of customers I expected, I decided that I better learn more about this type of organ. I read lots of books during my time getting a Master's degree in Electrical Engineering at Cornell University and was very surprised to learn the development of the organ in the medieval time, even before. The organ, I discovered, was one of the earliest musical instruments that is still in use in our west European civilization. When I say west European, I mean that of the early immigrants to the place that was to become the present USA: mostly English, a few French, Dutch, and Swedes, eventually lots and lots of Germans, and then in the 19th century, also large invasions of Scandanavians, east Europeans of every type, Irish and Italians. Except for the Scandinavians, the latter tended to be Roman Catholic and Jews, but in the early times, except for the English Roman Catholics from Lord Baltimore and a few French, almost everyone was protestant. The protestants came in two categories: the English Puritan/Pilgrim types which were anti-Church of England, and anti liturgical - very much like the Dutch Reformed preachers. The only group that tended to be liturgical was the Lutherans and eventually the Anglicans, but the majority of the Virginia Anglicans tended to be low church. The German/Swiss Reformed group, though Calvinistic, seemed to go for a low Lutheranism.

So I studied more and more about how the pipe organ developed for the liturgical Continentals, since that was my own ancestral background. My wife-to-be grew up in NW Germany (we met in Cincinnati when I was working for Baldwin Piano Company as a principal in the development of electronic organs by that firm), and we got married in her hometown. We also saw some organs in her part of the world and I became even more fascinated with them than what E. Power Biggs' and Helmut Walcha's recordings had done for me. I realized that this simple type of organ which was based on centuries of development in NW Europe going back before 1200 was perfect for the average American protestant church. (Actually, the basis for these instruments goes back much further to the time when Charlemagne's father got a primitive organ as a present in 757 from the Emperor in Byzantium; in fact, it goes even earlier, but that is not much of a basis for the present organ in Europe.) My experience is that these ancient instruments have a special sound that eventually got lost around the same time as when J.S. Bach died. To me, it seemed like a terrible loss. I wanted to see if I could rediscover why these organs sounded so good, why they motivated people like J.S. Bach to make such incredibly wonderful music for us, and if I could even make something which had the attributes I liked so much in these instruments. Obviously, this became a passion for me - you might call it my religious rampage!

More information about John Brombaugh:
"Pipe fitter," article from The Lutheran
The Brombaugh Organ in Duke University Chapel
Fairchild Chapel Organ, Oberlin, OH