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What was YOUR first encounter with the organ?

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  • What was YOUR first encounter with the organ?

    I didn't want to make the title to lengthy so here it is:
    When, and why did you ever want to play the organ? What were some of the things that enticed you? Gimmi some feedback and some other details too. Just curious!!

  • #2
    Grew up in an isolated small town, so no real organs to hear except Hammonds in a couple of churches. Even though those were nothing like today's digitals when it comes to mimicking the pipe organ, I do recall hearing some very inspiring sounds from them. One church had a very creative organist who played nice arrangements (probably from The Organist or some such periodical), so I heard good organ playing even on mediocre instruments. Occasionally I would also hear some old Lowrey or something in another church or in someone's home, but I always thought they sounded horrible.

    First organ I ever got to play was a Hammond M-3 in the home of our pastor at the time. I had only played piano before then and found the organ-like sounds and deep bass of the pedals quite thrilling! I was probably 12 at the time and thought this little organ was glorious.

    First pipe organ sound I ever heard was in the movie "The Sound of Music" :-)

    There is a wonderful snippet of lovely full-organ at the beginning of the wedding scene, and once I heard that I was hooked on "real" organ sound. I was about 14 or 15 at the time and did not hear a pipe organ in person until I went away to college at 18. But it was the thrill of the organ in that movie that really stirred my interest in the King of Instruments and I still consider the sound I heard in that movie to be about the most wonderful organ sound in my memory.
    *** Please post your questions about technical service or repair matters ON THE FORUM. Do not send your questions to me or another member by private message. Information shared is for the benefit of the entire organ community, but other folks will not be helped by information we exchange in private messages!



    • #3
      My parents bought me a small portable chord organ as I loved it and started learning music by the age of 8. Then by the age of 10, my grandmother, a big fan of the Lawrence Welks Show back then bought me a Thomas Troubadour 181 spinet organ in 1973. It was the low end line of Thomas as I never wanted nothing but a Hammond organ. I then bought a Hammond X-77 organ in hight school, but I was sorry that I sold it when I needed the money. I then ended up with a Thomas organ again, as I love my 1981 Thomas Eldorado 792 organ, with so many fun advanced features.


      • #4
        Wow YO, good idea for a thread. My first recollection was 1967. I went to see my older sisters boyfriend play at a CYO dance. I know you don't know what that means. (Christian Youth Organization) Mainly it was social dances held at Catholic churches. Anywho, My sisters boyfriend was playing his M3 through a Leslie. They were playing covers of the Young Rascals,Buckinghams,Vanilla Fudge. Music of the day. I remember watching that swirly thing in the Leslie. I knew I could never afford such equipment so I took up guitar instead.
        Young folks today are fortunate because back in the day Hammonds cost as much as a new car.
        C3, Leslie 720, A100, E100, Have owned L100 and M3, http://soundcloud.com/twiggybush


        • #5
          I'm a great music fan, everything from Tchaikovsky to Dion. I heard electronic organs on AM radio; bought the pop 45's The Happy Organ 1958? and Telstar 1962? but they weren't my favorites. When in 1962 Dad's new FM radio started playing the LP Bach Organ Favorites Played by E Power Biggs , I was entranced. Passacaglia and Fugue in C min became my favorite piece of all time, followed by Jig Fugue and Little Fugue. I never heard JS Bach on organ live, was unimpressed by the electronic organ at church or the pipe organ at a wedding, JS Bach was all a big mystery. I bought the record in high school, and a good stereo with some actual bass response sophomore year of college , and made do with canned music.
          I played a Hammond C2? some at a Houston TX Harrisburg church in 1977 when the music director and organist ran away to Sugarland. Was impressed with its durability, not with the sound particularly, went back to the church's grand piano to play hymns. The sound of the Leslie reminded me of Brunhilda in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, so I shut it off.
          After I bought myself a good piano in 1982 (better than Mother's Everett) to reclaim some of my youthful skills , I was in the Westron Wynde shop in Manhattan Kansas looking around, and they had Petersen JS Bach Ogelwerke Vol 1 in stock. It had the Passacaglia in it! I bought that, along with both Beethoven Sonata books from Dover and Pictures at an Exhibition from Belwin. I played the manual parts of the Passacaglia some, analyzed the bottom line and realized it would take two octaves of pedals to do it, and started looking for an organ I could afford. Never found one. C2's were rediculously expensive, spinets sitting on the curb or in junk shops were too small. Real estate first, toys second, I got the house paid off in 1988.
          In 2010, prices came down enough I could afford a 25 pedal hammond H100 in almost operational condition. I lucked out, H100 has real bass in the bottom octave instead of the foldback bass of a C2. As I restored its power and sound, I started practiciing my favorite piece in the world. I Got okay on two pages barefooted, but after my first organ lesson from a pro in 2012, transferred to shoes. I'm trying to relearn it, the right way. Meanwhile, I'm 10 pages from finishing Pictures on the piano, so finish what I started, I'm concentrating on that. At least I can play that in public. I know of no church or school that has a 25 pedal organ anymore, so Passacaglia will have to remain a private pleasure. I can't really take lessons, I have to pay extra for the doctor to come to my house as a special favor, since all the teaching venues are 32 pedal organs.
          I started attending AGO concerts about 2011, have heard a lot of great repretoire on pipe organs in the three counties. I've heard Passacaglia live on a pipe organ once; was unimpressed by the performance somehow. His feet falling off the pedals once didn't help. I haven't heard Jig or Little fugue live, yet. So far the best live organ piece has been Max Reger's Passacaglia , which seems to be JS Bach's Passacaglia played inside out.
          city Hammond H-182 organ (2 ea),A100,10-82 TC, Wurlitzer 4500, Schober Recital Organ, Steinway 40" console , Sohmer 39" pianos, Ensoniq EPS, ; country Hammond H112


          • #6
            Indy, those are some pretty good references. I'll be checking them out. However, what was your first experience? You know, that impressionable moment.
            Young Organist, what was your first experience?
            C3, Leslie 720, A100, E100, Have owned L100 and M3, http://soundcloud.com/twiggybush


            • #7


              • #8
                Virgil Fox. Purists love to hate him but he sure knew how to make the organ exciting. I didn't get to hear the organ much in church until later as we mostly went to very small churches in my younger years where there was only a piano and no organ or at least no organ player.

                If it is Caesar that you worship, then Caesar you shall serve.


                • #9
                  Apart from regularly hearing the organ in church as I was a member of the choir, the first time I really noticed the organ as a solo instrument was when my Dad took me to an science and technology exhibition in London in the mid 1960s. I heard the Hammond being played and was amazed that such a big sound came from such a small instrument. I wanted on but we couldn't afford it, so I learnt piano, accordion and guitar, until rediscovering the Hammond a few years later. This time, there was no question, being an organist was what I wanted to do in life! 44 years later, I still love all forms of the instrument.
                  It's not what you play. It's not how you play. It's the fact that you're playing that counts.

                  New website now live - www.andrew-gilbert.com

                  Current instruments: Roland Atelier AT900 Platinum Edition, Yamaha PSR-S970, Kawai K1m
                  Retired Organs: Lots! Kawai SR6 x 2, Hammond L122, T402, T500 x 2, X5. Conn Martinique and 652. Gulbransen 2102 Pacemaker. Kimball Temptation.
                  Retired Leslies, 147, 145 x 2, 760 x 2, 710, 415 x 2.
                  Retired synths: Korg 700, Roland SH1000, Jen Superstringer, Kawai S100F, Kawai S100P, Kawai K1


                  • #10
                    I can't remember my actual first encounter with the organ. I suppose it was the pipe organ at church when I was a kid, and which I now play and help look after. But the instrument which had a massive impact on me was the Blackpool Tower Ballroom Wurlitzer. I went nuts for it, and my parents wrote to Jim'll Fix It for me to have a go on it. I didn't get a reply from Jim, which, on reflection, I am thankful for! But I don't think I would be an organist now had I not had that experience in that wonderful building.

                    Best wishes,


                    • #11
                      Two words: Green Onions
                      When Green Onions was released in 1962, I was 8 and the family was living in Jasper Indiana, literally 2 blocks from the Kimball factory and HQ. My mother had played piano since her childhood and when we moved to Jasper she bought a blond spinet piano from Kimball, allegedly one of the first ever produced in blond. Mom signed my older brother and me up for lessons at the Kimball plant. I hated it, being taught 300 year old music by dead Europeans (no ugly American-ism intended) by a women who probably went to school with Beethoven. But, while my brother was in having his time with the instructor, I would spend my time on the showroom floor and they would let me pound it out on the organs. That was heaven and I pleaded with my parents to burn the piano and replace it with an organ, any organ. Didn't happen. And until last year, I was certain a Hammond would always be beyond my reach financially. Little did I know about Craigslist and curb-side abandoned beauties.
                      DrLunk aka Mike Head
                      Unofficial Senior Member of the yet to be organized Organizational Committee for "Burning Hamm"
                      "Maximum Use of Available Technology"


                      • #12
                        Great question!

                        As a 14-year-old accordion student, I was on my way home from a lesson and passed Hammond Organ Studios (Ft. Wayne, Indiana) and heard this beautiful sound coming out the open door. The HOS instructor showed me how my accordion knowledge could be transferred to the organ and I was hooked! I soon became bored with the sine wave sound and went on to discover the theatre pipe organ and other electronic organs.

                        It's been a great 64 year trip!

                        . . . Jan
                        the OrganGrinder


                        • #13
                          Age 4, 1947, I had my father take me up to the console of our church organ as the postlude was being played and the organist gladly showed wee little me around the 3 M Casavant.
                          Fast forward to about 1956 when Dad bought a Wurlitzer spinette complete with toe pedals and I learned some Jerome Kearn etc on it but craved a full organ to take some proper lessons.
                          Did not happen.
                          About 1958 I was walking home around Jane and Bloor in Toronto and happened by the Allen Organ Store there, Walked in and watched as one of the organs was being demonstrated.
                          That incident had a big influence on me!
                          I was just completing a Heath kit FM tuner at about age 16 and, running over the stations I could get, I came upon Virgil Fox on the big organ at Riverside.... Silhouettes.....
                          That did it and I vowed I would follow up when on my own and try to have a full organ at home some day.
                          That did not happen until I was well into my practice here in Thunder Bay in the 80s. At one point the whole family was taking piano and I was doing both piano and organ with an Allen at home and a Casavant at my disposal when I felt I could bare the icicles!
                          Like David I am not the greatest organist but I love the instrument. At 70 years of age it seems harder to learn new stuff though!


                          • #14
                            I was first enamored with the organ while listening to Jerry Burke playing the Hammond Electric Organ on the Lawrence Welk show. For the past 35 years I have dreamed of owning a Hammond and that dream came true this summer when I purchased my RT 3.


                            • #15
                              House of the Rising Sun by the Animals.............I was hooked for life
                              1956 M3, 51 Leslie Young Chang spinet, Korg Krome and Kronos