Ebay Classic organs

Collapse

Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

was E. Power Biggs good?

Collapse
This topic is closed.
X
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • jdcrash
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    The observation of Bach heading his works with S.D.G. brings to mind the observation that Bishop Fulton J. Sheen would head his written notes with the letters "JMJ." Oops! Not organ related, sorry!

    Leave a comment:


  • jdcrash
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    In terms of musicians criticizing each other, if you had attended one of Fox's post concert, after-glow get-togethers, you would know that he did not have many kind words for the likes of Catherine Crozier, for example. A well-known professor of organ performance/concert artist in Ann Arbor, Michigan did not have any kind words to say about Virgil Fox. These "true professionals" are quite human, you know. And thank goodness!

    Leave a comment:


  • jdcrash
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    As a concert organist per se, Virgil Fox was pretty darn good. I think that he was in a class all by himself. He has imitators and wanabes, what have you. I got to see Virgil perform in "straight" recitals before he went "commercial." Those were the most unique, uplifting musical happenings that I have ever had the pleasure to see and hear in my life. The French masters like Vierne and Dupre, just to name two, went through an unbelievably rigourous training. Just read Rollin Smith's book on Vierne and you will see what I mean. When we take into consideration what these men and women accomplished in their lives, we can conclude that Virgil Fox can't hold a candle to any of them. He was a concert organist, period. He was not the equal of Vierne or Dupre, but I think he did a pretty good job of emulating them.
    E. Power Biggs was a very accomplished concert artist in his early career. I have a good friend who owns early recordings of Biggs. He was a very fine player at one time. I have former acquaintances who shut organ music out of their lives when Fox died. Sad. There are talented organists out there whose music making is the like I have never seen or heard in my life. One has to keep an open mind, I reckon.

    Leave a comment:


  • jameslouder
    replied

    Leave a comment:


  • Barry C
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    I purchased this album last Spring and have thoroughly enjoyed it. It reminded me of his Gabrieli recordings made in San Marco. Wonderful stuff IMO.
    I'm hoping to have some of my Biggs LPs transferred to CD. I've got all the CDs, but not all was put on CD unfortunately.
    [[rogersjay wrote:
    He did a wonderful Christmas album with the Gregg Smith Singers and Texas Boys Choir that shows just how much spirit he could bring to a performance. Unfortunately, it suffers from Columbia's mediocre recording, but the playing sounds like he's just having fun for once!]]

    Leave a comment:


  • Jerry
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    Marie Claire Alain and Virgil Fox if I am not mistaken were friends. Fox's love of the French romantic era influenced him with the likes of Vierne, Dupre' and Alain, etc., etc. About the only organization that Fox criticized oddly enough was the AGO of which he was a member.
    Marie Claire Alain has recorded the entire organ works of Bach on the "musical heritage society" label.
    I find it odd that you would criticize Fox's playing of Bach but like those of Marie Claire Alain when in fact both were influenced by the same.
    As far as playing Bach. His Music is very killable, even by the best. it is the strictest form of harmonic structure there is and is the foundation of the way all music is written, played, and listened to today. The rules of music theory all stem from that. to think that Bach's music is unkillable would roll the great master in his grave. Considering the fact that he could improvise fugues on any given theme, he reveled in the fact that no one else could play his music as well as himself.
    Bach was known for his flamboyancy, going from organ to organ with in the town he was named official music director of, playing anything he wanted to showing off his talent. The arrogance that he would display was well earned. If he wasn't that way, we would not have the great music of his that we do today. Imagine all the transcripts that he wrote down and were used to wrap meat in the family business. better yet, imagine if we were lucky enough today to be able to hear any organist improvise a Baroque fugue. Most organists today avoid playing a lot of Bach in one recital. I have yet to hear Diane Bish play any of the major organ works of Bach. Bach's music can be delightfully played and listened to easily but falls close to a fine line of artistic caution fearing the criticism of their peers. I believe your terminology is "kill-a ble". Three hours of Bach in one night is an undertaking no one else has ever attempted, Fox did, and was repeatedly successful.
    Those who didn't like the "heavy Organ" tour of Fox's are those who stand in the minority. In reading his Biography, he has accomplished more than any other organist alive. And sits with the likes of Dupre' Vierne, etc., etc., why he chose not to write is a mystery to me, maybe it was because of his constant line up of recital dates. In any event, he did what he loved to do, Play the organ.
    One thing that all of us as musicians should try to emulate is the fact that Fox, Biggs, Alain, Vierne, Dupre, Schweitzer Widor, etc., never had one word of criticism for the other. No back stabbing, no condemnations of how the other interpreted the music that they played. true professionals. Great musicians that will be remembered for their contributions to the Organ. Unlike the critics that frequent this forum which I am one of.
    A sympathetic excuse for Biggs because of the arthritis but a murderous treatment of Bach by Fox, who, by the way battled cancer for four years.
    Is it more because of fox's arrogance that you criticize him. If that be the case, what would you say about Bach if he lived within our life time. according to historians, Bach displayed the same type of arrogance that Fox did.
    Yes, there are a lot of good organists alive today, but we are in the interim of the next great organist since Fox's death. When they arrive they will undoubtedly land center stage with all the arrogance and hoopla that the ones before them did. I hope that I am still alive then so I may hear the great works of Bach played once again on the mighty instrument he loved and wrote for.

    Jerry

    Leave a comment:


  • DeserTom
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    E. Power Biggs was not the only organist so names. In LA (I think) many years ago was a player whose name was Richard Keyes Biggs.

    When I was a young twerp attending the University of Rhode Island, I attended the Music Educators National Conference in Boston, and a group of us were invited to E. Power Biggs house in Cambridge so we could see, hear and play his Schlicker portable organ. It had two manuals and pedal, maybe 10 ranks of pipes, I'm not sure about that, and it was very baroque in voicing. He had a trailor which he could load it into and take it places. I even recall once when he had it on a program such as "Sunday Morning."

    On that day at his house, Mr. Biggs was very gracious and helpful to all of us students.

    Happy New year to everone here.
    Tom

    Leave a comment:


  • jameslouder
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    Jerry,

    Fox's "Heavy Organ" tour was indeed an all-Bach affair, no doubt because (as I pointed out in a previous post) no other repertoire could have stood up to the murderous treatment he subjected it to. I'm not familiar with the master class to which you refer (though I knew a couple of Fox's students from around that time), but I'll take your word that Fox at one point may have understood cantabile playing. That recording I alluded to earlier seemed to suggest it. Fox's playing later mutated into the grotesque oom-pah style that was the mainstay of his Heaving Organ period -- and if it kept the rubes in their seats, so much the worse for them. I remember when he hit Vancouver with his medecine show -- he blew away every accordion player in the music studio where I was working at the time. But so what?

    Grammercy for your good words about Marie-Claire Alain. She is twice the musician and three times the teacher that either Fox or Biggs was -- and still going strong pushing 80 years old, her pedal technique better than ever after two hip replacements!

    Leave a comment:


  • rogersjay
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    Interesting.
    In my student days (the late 60's) Weinrich was considered by many at least the equal of Fox or Biggs. It's a shame his Bach hasn't been reissued, to my knowledge, although a number of Westminster recordings have been reissued by Deutsche Grammophon. Neither Biggs nor Bach ever recorded Bach complete, to my knowledge, either. (Apparently Weinrich's cycle was never completed, either.) I have a couple of the LP's, and they certainly are different from what we hear today. Nevertheless, the musicianship is superb.
    It's true that many of Bigg's later recordings were somewhat stodgy, probably at least because of the arthritis. The "Historic Organs of France" and "Historic Organs of England" recordings being among the worst examples. But having re-listened recently to some of the Bach recordings in particular, I have come to appreciate Biggs more. There is more life there than I previously thought. (Or maybe I'm just getting Old!)
    He did a wonderful Christmas album with the Gregg Smith Singers and Texas Boys Choir that shows just how much spirit he could bring to a performance. Unfortunately, it suffers from Columbia's mediocre recording, but the playing sounds like he's just having fun for once!

    Jay Rogers
    downey, Ca.

    Leave a comment:


  • Jerry
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    (The message you are replying to:
    Posted By: jdcrash on 12-28-2003 06:28 PM
    Subject: Re: was E. Power Biggs good?
    Message: Virgil Fox: "shill for Rodgers." Truer words were never spoken. Towards the end, Virgil would slaughter the Alain Litanies on the Rodgers, for example, much to our emabarassment and intense dismay.He could play some pretty darn good Bach when he wanted to though. Speaking of Marie-Claire Alain, her reading of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in A minor is positively thrilling on any organ. )




    I may stand corrected, but it was a known fact that the "Heavy Organ" tour of Virgil Fox's on the Rogers organ was totally composed of music by J.S.Bach. Three hours of it, and no one even got up to go to the bathroom for fear of missing something at the one I attended. It was the first time I had excused the massive doubling of sounds that only an electric organ can produce. I truly believe that if a pipe organ could have been hauled around on a tour like that, he would have used it instead. But.......
    Speaking of Marie Claire Alain, yes, I do agree with you. I was lucky enough to attend one of her master classes when in college, she came late, and promptly threw her coat on a pew and she jumped up on the organ and played the Litanies, In heels no less! Besides Fox, she plays Bach quite well. she, as well as Fox play the" a min" with such a pulse you can feel the swing through out the building. I have recordings of her, Fox and Biggs playing the "a min" some one should have mentioned to Biggs that there is a difference between 6/8 and 3/4. similarly, Alain and Fox glide through the D Maj. so wonderfully that it makes one want to go home and play scales. when you listen to Biggsy's recording, the ear pulls for the leading tone to resolve. once again, I encourage all to take a listen to the master class of Fox's from 1969. He speaks of the pulse music naturally has if done right and the absolute need of practice on the piano to obtain good technique for the organ

    http://www.virgilfoxlegacy.com

    Jerry

    Leave a comment:


  • jdcrash
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    Virgil Fox: "shill for Rodgers." Truer words were never spoken. Towards the end, Virgil would slaughter the Alain Litanies on the Rodgers, for example, much to our emabarassment and intense dismay.He could play some pretty darn good Bach when he wanted to though. Speaking of Marie-Claire Alain, her reading of Bach's Prelude and Fugue in A minor is positively thrilling on any organ. Very similar to something Virgil would do sans the showmanship. She once declared at Christ Church in Pensacola, Fl that romantic music could not be played on the Gabriel Kney pipe organ, the same organ with which Ken Karadin had masterfully performed the Widor 6th a couple of weeks previously. That organ sounded wonderful with Marie-Claire at the console.

    Leave a comment:


  • jameslouder
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    Going back to Stephen's original question, "Was E. Power Biggs" good, the answer is , yes, of course he was. But so were lots of other people -- not just Virgil Fox! Hugh, you are surely right that the "younger generation" would be impoverished indeed if there were only Biggs and Fox to choose from. Unfortunately, if you start Googling around the web, looking for organ music, you will find the recordings of Biggs and Fox still preponderate at the expense of many of their musical betters, both past and present. So it's little wonder that many people get the mistaken impression that these two are the whole deal.

    It will come as no surprise that, forced to choose, I would rather listen to Biggs play Bach. Just his choice of organs would be enough to settle the matter. But the fact is, my introduction to Bach's organ music, when I was a very small boy, came from an early LP of Fox's called simply, "Virgil Fox Plays Bach." I can still see the record-cover in my mind's eye: an etched drawing of the great Sebastian filling the entire cover, on a blue background. This would have been Fox c. 1952 and the organ was, of course, the monumental Aeolian-Skinner of Riverside Church, NYC. So when Biggs' records on the Harvard Flentrop came along, I was well prepared for the epiphany of that organ's sound; the music was already well known to me. For that I have Virgil Fox to thank and I would be dishonest not to give credit where credit is due. I may also say that Fox's work on that LP was artistically superior in every respect to the popped-up Bach of his latter years, when he was putting on the medecine show for Rodgers.

    That Fox still thrilled so many people with the music of Bach says a great deal more about Bach than it does about Fox. The fact is, Bach's music will stand up to just about any kind of abuse because the writing is so strong. Let a musician push a line too hard -- no matter, the muscles and sinews of the other voices will deploy their might to bring the piece back into a recognizable shape. I mean, Larry Adler used to play the Tocatta in d min on the harmonica, for God's sake -- and it worked! You can't do such things to Handel, not even to Mozart, and only occasionally to Beethoven. But with Bach you can get away with murder, because he's unkillable.

    So one does not have to choose between Fox and Biggs. For that matter, neither was my organist of choice once I started, as a teenager, to discover the wider world. Among the serious performers of that time, I gravitated to Hellmuth Walcha, Anton Heiller, and Marie-Claire Alain. But I also had a quirky Bach album by Gaston Litaize that used to move me to tears; and Glenn Gould's temperamental recording of the Art of the Fugue was one of the great revelations of my life. The serious listener will, of course, have as many recordings as he can afford of Bach's greatest organ works, on many different organs -- and they will run the gamut from the historically impeccable, like Ton Koopman, to the modernly outrageous, like Jean Guillou.

    Leave a comment:


  • Barry C
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    One big thing with me about this whole thing is, I've never once heard a pipe organ live, not a real concert anyway. I admit I have listened to the John Wanamaker organ a couple times, but those weren't real concerts. The organ was only played a few minutes, with a crowd of people who were talking and not listening. I guess that goes with having an organ in a department store.
    I've never been to a real concert, in a cathedral or whatever. That would be cool. I have my collection of recordings to enjoy though, which is good enough for now.
    Barry

    Leave a comment:


  • smartcs
    replied
    Re: was E. Power Biggs good?

    This is a very good post James.
    The original question "Was E. Power Biggs Good?" seems to be lost in who played Bach better.
    If there is only Fox , Biggs, and Bach it would not leave much room for the future of pipe organ playing in the younger generation.
    I like to hear both play on recordings, BUT have heard many younger (and alive) organists that out preform them both.
    I haven't seen any mention of other organiest like Joyce Jones, Dale Wood, or Richard Purvis here.
    Even though Dale and Richard are gone many fine examples of theire recording exist.
    I have heard contemporaries in live preformances, and the style, and presitation of the music they played put them in the uper class of preformers.

    Hugh

    Leave a comment:


  • jameslouder
    replied

    Leave a comment:

Working...
X