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Who/what are we not playing enough of? Who are your "forgotten masters"?

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  • Who/what are we not playing enough of? Who are your "forgotten masters"?

    Hi all,

    It's your friendly neighborhood musicologist here.

    In my playing and my research, I deal primarily in works that have not quite made it into the standard repertoire, or once occupied a place on the list but have since fallen from grace. I'm beginning to organize, parse, and expand my collections, and the shuffling of files has provoked some curiosity...

    What am I missing?

    I believe many of us have "organ chestnuts" that make us say, "Composer X is underrated and underplayed" or "I wish I had more of Composer X's music", so I invite the hive mind of The Organ Forum to share their wisdom and experience. I'll go first:

    C.V. Stanford - while not unknown as a composer (The Blue Bird and Beati Quorum Via are quite popular), in my corner of the world Stanford's organ music (and many of his other works, but that's another post...) are unknown, and professionally deemed unworthy of academic study.
    A few of my favorite organ works are Op. 189: No. 4, Intermezzo Founded upon an Irish Air, Op. 105: No. 6, Postlude in D Minor, and Op. 182: No. 3, At Easter-tide.

    Bruce Steane - I know little about this composer save what I can find in old periodicals and Wikipedia, but I find his music imbued with an unusual Victorian vitality.
    A few of my favorites include his Evensong, Sortie (harmonium?), and Prayer.

    John Stainer - Once a pedagogical stalwart (I can remember two of my organ teachers criticizing my purchase of his The Organ long after he had been succeeded by Gleason, Peeters, Leupold, et. al.), his organ music has been largely (and unjustly) relegated to the trash heap.
    A few of my favorites are his Prelude in C and Prelude and Fughetta.

    Florence Price - A hometown hero of sorts (I grew up in an area her father was involved in helping to improve), new editions of her work and strong scholarly interest in her compositions are helping to give her the spotlight of which she was justly deserving.
    Her Adoration and Variations on a folksong, Peter go ring dem bells are especially fine.

  • #2
    Barbara Dennerlein

    Comment


    • #3
      DEWII,

      First, welcome to the Forum. I hope you continue to participate here for years to come.

      I think I'd disagree with John Stainer, as I've run into quite a few pieces of his being played by organists in programs.

      Unfortunately, there are many nice pieces that have come to the forefront, but have subsequently been overplayed, and therefore have fallen out of favor. An example of an overplayed piece might be Léon Boëllmann's Suite Gothique, especially the Toccata. Another might be the Finale from Charles-Marie Widor's Organ Symphony No.5, Op.42 No.1. Nice piece, but somewhat overplayed. The same could be said of Lemmens' Fanfare in D, or Eugène Gigot's Grand Chœur Dialogué.

      On the other hand, there are pieces by composers that are too difficult for most organists, so they retain their appeal because it is seldom one hears a good performance of the pieces. An example would be Henri Mulet's Tu Es Petra.

      However, I'd like to hear more of some of the Northern European composers from places like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, etc. Perhaps it's because of my place of residence, but I seldom hear performances of works by those composers. Another composer I wish had more music for organ is the Canadian composer, John Cook. I've played his Fanfare in F, and loved it, but wish he had more similar pieces available. Perhaps I've just not looked hard enough.

      That's a start for me.

      Michael
      Last edited by myorgan; 12-14-2018, 05:48 PM. Reason: correct piece title
      Way too many organs to list, but I do have 5 Allens:
      • MOS-2 Model 505-B / ADC-4300-DK / ADC-5400 / ADC-6000 (Symphony) / ADC-8000DKC
      • Lowrey Heritage (DSO-1)
      • 11 Pump Organs, 1 Pipe Organ & 7 Pianos

      Comment


      • #4
        I am always looking for the relatively unknown composers for organ music. IMSLP is a wonderful source where one can search by instrumentation and composers.

        Just found a new one, to me, that being Rudnick - heard the Organ Sonata I in G major for the first time in a concert two weeks ago. I scurried off to IMSLP and downloaded over 100 pieces by that composer.

        Others are d'Antalffy, Ravenello, Frank Bridge and many others.

        There is a Danish contemporary organist/composer by the name of Frederik Magle (prounounced M-A-A-HL-). Here is his website with examples of his playing and composing skills. Frederik is a personal friend on mine ... my wife and I were his and his wife's house guests when we were on vacation in Denmark in 2010. Had the wonderful opportunity to have played an organ concert there on a (then) new Frobenius 25 rk tracker organ installed in a village Lutheran church in 2009. Frederik designed that organ.

        Comment


        • #5
          DEWII, What a great first post!

          I like a wide variety of organ music, both old and new, and every Sunday evening I listen to two sources of music on the Internet to wind down my week. I get tired of hearing the same pieces over and over in live concerts in the USA and find that many organists in England and Europe have much more interesting repertoires and are not afraid of playing 20th and 21st century compositions, along with lesser-known works of previous centuries.

          The first is the Contrebombarde site. The contributions are mostly from professional organists from around the world, who post MP3 files of their performances on virtual pipe organs - mainly using Hauptwerk. It's a mix of old and new, known and unknown. I've learned so much about the lesser-known organ literature from my two years of being a member of that site. If you are a member and log in you can download the MP3 files and sometimes MIDI files. I have about 30 pieces that I've saved from this site to play via MIDI on my Allen ADC organ.

          Many contributors give links to the publisher of music that is under copyright. If the music is out of copyright, some will post a pdf of it. Members can comment on the performances and ask questions about registration, etc.

          Here is a link to the Browse page that lists contributions in the order they were posted: http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/home/browse

          Two performances of Florence Price's Adoration:

          http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/music/27384

          http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/music/27394

          More about Florence Price: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/music-an...rnan_price.pdf

          Another source with frequent contributions of music I've not heard before is from the YouTube channel of an excellent Finnish organist and composer, Marko Hakanpaa. Many of his performances are of more recent works and I've run into quite a few composers and compositions previously unknown to me that I really like.

          https://www.youtube.com/user/mhakanpaa/videos
          Last edited by AllenAnalog; 11-15-2018, 12:14 AM.
          Larry is my name; Allen is an organ brand. Allen RMWTHEA.3 with RMI Electra-Piano; Allen 423-C+Gyro; Britson Opus OEM38; Steinway AR Duo-Art 7' grand piano, Mills Violano Virtuoso with MIDI; Hammond 9812H with roll player; Roland E-200; Mason&Hamlin AR Ampico grand piano, Allen ADC-5300-D with MIDI, Allen MADC-2110.

          Comment


          • #6
            One of my recent discoveries is Mel Bonis, a French composer (contemporay and fellow student to Debussy) - her organ works are very beautiful and she doesn't get played often, at least over here.

            For some nice romantic pieces, my choice is Elizabeth Stirling. It will be her 200th birthday next year and I plan to play several of her pieces in a recital.

            A contemporary of Elizabeth Stirling is Moritz Brosig. Though one might not agree with his ideas about what kind of music should be played in church, his organ compositions are worth looking at.

            I also love the organ pieces by Carlotta Ferrari. When you want to play something modern that doesn't require huge organs and doesn't overwhelm your audience but still gives them something unusual, have a look at her extensive collection on IMSLP.

            Comment


            • #7
              I have always enjoyed the organ music of C. H. Rinck (1770-1846). He studied with Johann Christian Kittel (1732–1809), who, in turn, had been a pupil of Johann Sebastian Bach. On that topic, Kittel himself is another "footnote" composer who's music should be better known today. In the more modern era, Joseph Jongen is certainly not obscure, but his music should really be better known than it is. Jongen's music is, generally speaking, quite difficult though, and this limits it's wider exposure by "everyday" organists.

              Tony
              Home: Johannus Opus 370

              Comment


              • #8
                Rinck plays quite an important role in the development of protestant music in the early 19th century. I will play choral variations by him in my next recital. :-)

                Comment


                • #9
                  I don't think there are that much forgotten master. But there are a lot of forgotten masterpieces because somehow only a handful are being played again and again.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have been following this thread with interest, listening to YT video performances of many pieces recommended here. I love finding new repertoire.

                    One thing that can make so much difference in our opinion of a piece is the performance and instrument. The first time I heard Florence Price's Adoration I was underwhelmed. However after finding this wonderful performance by Craig Williams, I really like the piece. Mr. Williams is playing on an Allen organ and, according to the description, he used the E.M. Skinner ranks of this instrument. While my musical taste is quite varied, I had the great pleasure to play on a Skinner for a number of years. Using those stops for this piece was the right decision. Thank you DEWII for bringing Florence Price to our attention.

                    Here is the link:

                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQZC...93Kpg6&index=4
                    Bill

                    My home organ: Content M5800 as a midi controller for Hauptwerk

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      DEWII,

                      First, welcome to the Forum. I hope you continue to participate here for years to come.

                      I think I'd disagree with John Stainer, as I've run into quite a few pieces of his being played by organists in programs.

                      Unfortunately, there are many nice pieces that have come to the forefront, but have subsequently been overplayed, and therefore have fallen out of favor. An example of an overplayed piece might be Léon Boëllmann's Suite Gothique, especially the Toccata. Another might be the Finale from Charles-Marie Widor's Organ Symphony No.5, Op.42 No.1. Nice piece, but somewhat overplayed. The same could be said of Lemmens' Fanfare in D, or Eugène Gigot's Grand Chœur Dialogué.

                      On the other hand, there are pieces by composers that are too difficult for most organists, so they retain their appeal because it is seldom one hears a good performance of the pieces. An example would be Henri Mulet's Tu Es Petra.

                      However, I'd like to hear more of some of the Northern European composers from places like Denmark, Sweden, Norway, etc. Perhaps it's because of my place of residence, but I seldom hear performances of works by those composers. Another composer I wish had more music for organ is the Canadian composer, John Cook. I've played his Fanfare in , and loved it, but wish he had more similar pieces available. Perhaps I've just not looked hard enough.

                      That's a start for me.

                      Michael
                      I love Stainer's work (I've come to really be fond of that time period and that part of the world in terms of choral and organ music) but I've been met with resistance by at least three prominent figures with which I studied (not to name names, but one is a well-known Bach scholar, one is a harpsichordist of some renown, and one who taught a well-known young organist). Additionally, it's virtually unplayed in my part of the world (Southeast AR).

                      I agree about the overplayed music. I love those pieces, and enjoy the challenge of them, but I wouldn't touch them for a service or a recital with a 39 1/2 pole. I especially have a soft spot for Widor 5's finale; a theory professor from my college days and I played a hilarious prank on my classmates with it one year.

                      I don't know much about Northern Europe's organ composers, save for the big names like Buxtehude, Nielsen, Olsson, et al. but I'd love to give them some serious consideration.

                      Thanks for your contribution. I'm sorry I didn't reply to you earlier. I thought that I would be emailed if the post got replies, so you can imagine how disheartened I was thinking that it was lost in the winds.
                      Last edited by DEWII; 12-14-2018, 12:47 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I am always looking for the relatively unknown composers for organ music. IMSLP is a wonderful source where one can search by instrumentation and composers.

                        Just found a new one, to me, that being Rudnick - heard the Organ Sonata I in G major for the first time in a concert two weeks ago. I scurried off to IMSLP and downloaded over 100 pieces by that composer.

                        Others are d'Antalffy, Ravenello, Frank Bridge and many others.

                        There is a Danish contemporary organist/composer by the name of Frederik Magle (prounounced M-A-A-HL-). Here is his website with examples of his playing and composing skills. Frederik is a personal friend on mine ... my wife and I were his and his wife's house guests when we were on vacation in Denmark in 2010. Had the wonderful opportunity to have played an organ concert there on a (then) new Frobenius 25 rk tracker organ installed in a village Lutheran church in 2009. Frederik designed that organ.
                        I love IMSLP and CPDL. They've made so much music available to dilettantes and researchers, and weird people like me that fall between the two. When I was in college, I would spend my Saturdays sight-reading music from both.

                        Thanks for the suggestions. They all sound like master craftsmen. There's a really fine recording of Bridge's Adagio in E Major from the dedication concert for Nichols and Simpsons' largest organ installation to date. I should probably qualify that by saying I think it's good, and that looking over the score and playing it myself might change my mind.

                        Magle's Lament seems especially poignant.
                        Last edited by DEWII; 12-14-2018, 12:54 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          One of my recent discoveries is Mel Bonis, a French composer (contemporay and fellow student to Debussy) - her organ works are very beautiful and she doesn't get played often, at least over here.

                          For some nice romantic pieces, my choice is Elizabeth Stirling. It will be her 200th birthday next year and I plan to play several of her pieces in a recital.

                          A contemporary of Elizabeth Stirling is Moritz Brosig. Though one might not agree with his ideas about what kind of music should be played in church, his organ compositions are worth looking at.

                          I also love the organ pieces by Carlotta Ferrari. When you want to play something modern that doesn't require huge organs and doesn't overwhelm your audience but still gives them something unusual, have a look at her extensive collection on IMSLP.
                          They all look great. The only one of the bunch I knew was Ferrari. Thanks for the suggestions.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by skydawg View Post
                            Barbara Dennerlein
                            That's probably the jazziest thing I've heard come from an organ. Thanks for the recommendation.

                            - - - Updated - - -

                            Originally posted by AllenAnalog View Post
                            DEWII, What a great first post!

                            I like a wide variety of organ music, both old and new, and every Sunday evening I listen to two sources of music on the Internet to wind down my week. I get tired of hearing the same pieces over and over in live concerts in the USA and find that many organists in England and Europe have much more interesting repertoires and are not afraid of playing 20th and 21st century compositions, along with lesser-known works of previous centuries.

                            The first is the Contrebombarde site. The contributions are mostly from professional organists from around the world, who post MP3 files of their performances on virtual pipe organs - mainly using Hauptwerk. It's a mix of old and new, known and unknown. I've learned so much about the lesser-known organ literature from my two years of being a member of that site. If you are a member and log in you can download the MP3 files and sometimes MIDI files. I have about 30 pieces that I've saved from this site to play via MIDI on my Allen ADC organ.

                            Many contributors give links to the publisher of music that is under copyright. If the music is out of copyright, some will post a pdf of it. Members can comment on the performances and ask questions about registration, etc.

                            Here is a link to the Browse page that lists contributions in the order they were posted: http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/home/browse

                            Two performances of Florence Price's Adoration:

                            http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/music/27384

                            http://www.contrebombarde.com/concerthall/music/27394

                            More about Florence Price: https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/music-an...rnan_price.pdf

                            Another source with frequent contributions of music I've not heard before is from the YouTube channel of an excellent Finnish organist and composer, Marko Hakanpaa. Many of his performances are of more recent works and I've run into quite a few composers and compositions previously unknown to me that I really like.

                            https://www.youtube.com/user/mhakanpaa/videos
                            I greatly enjoy the Contrebombarde site, it's been a wonderful resource for tracking down recordings of pieces I only have in really old scores.

                            I don't know Marko Hakanpaa's channel yet, but I will be sure to browse it during my breaks at work. Thanks for the resource.

                            - - - Updated - - -

                            Originally posted by voet View Post
                            I have been following this thread with interest, listening to YT video performances of many pieces recommended here. I love finding new repertoire.

                            One thing that can make so much difference in our opinion of a piece is the performance and instrument. The first time I heard Florence Price's Adoration I was underwhelmed. However after finding this wonderful performance by Craig Williams, I really like the piece. Mr. Williams is playing on an Allen organ and, according to the description, he used the E.M. Skinner ranks of this instrument. While my musical taste is quite varied, I had the great pleasure to play on a Skinner for a number of years. Using those stops for this piece was the right decision. Thank you DEWII for bringing Florence Price to our attention.

                            Here is the link:

                            https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQZC...93Kpg6&index=4
                            I'm glad I could bring her to your attention. She's really a fascinating figure, and recent scholarship is starting to give her the acknowledgement she deserves.

                            - - - Updated - - -

                            Originally posted by Melos Antropon View Post
                            I have always enjoyed the organ music of C. H. Rinck (1770-1846). He studied with Johann Christian Kittel (1732–1809), who, in turn, had been a pupil of Johann Sebastian Bach. On that topic, Kittel himself is another "footnote" composer who's music should be better known today. In the more modern era, Joseph Jongen is certainly not obscure, but his music should really be better known than it is. Jongen's music is, generally speaking, quite difficult though, and this limits it's wider exposure by "everyday" organists.

                            Tony
                            I love Rinck and Kittel. On the latter, I believe Clarence Eddy notates on one of the pieces he edited (Prelude in D) that he is the last of J.S. Bach's pupils. I was to play it and a two-part fugue by Handel on Holy Name Cathedral's (Chicago) main organ on a field trip of sorts, but it was canceled at the last minute.


                            I know the name Jongen, but I can't say I'm overly familiar with his work. I'll have to give one of his pieces a whirl sometime soon (fully expecting to make little progress on it for a while).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This is a really great thread idea. As I read it, its a way to put out the names of some organist composers whose sheet music might be interesting to study vs organist performers whose interpretation of their own or others compositions might be inspiring. Well here are some names I haven't already seen in this thread. I've got more but its late. Another day.

                              Gardner Read, Dale Wood, and Emma Lou Diemer; Percy Whitlock, Charles Hubert Parry and Healey Willan; Denis Bedard and Dom Paul Benoit. And Ralph Vaughan-Williams.

                              Comment

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