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Organ music scores - why so expensive??

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  • #16
    Thrift shops can be great for this! Yes, colleges too -- if you know a librarian at one they're constantly processing donations and deletions. Prof. Craig Cramer at Notre Dame used to offer long lists of them -- maybe still does:

    Some AGO chapters have posted lists online of used music for sale (Organlibrary being the king of them all). Admittedly some forget to take them down when obsolete. Then there's the obvious Ebay and individuals who have put up their own free scores for the grabbing -- what's the name of that French one?
    Last edited by Victor Jules; 02-12-2021, 12:45 AM.


    • #17
      Several years ago someone was going to throw away some music books. They asked me if I wanted them if not they were going in the trash. I said I would take them. It turned out to be a box of books, many of them being "The Organ Portfolio" and "The Organist" from the 1990's and an assortment of other books as well.


      • #18
        Those mags should be very serviceable. The music in 'em is so nice and normal -- some is gorgeous. Familiar themes are what (IMHO) means the most to the average pew-warmer, and if our long-gone organ professors wouldn't approve so what.


        • you795a
          you795a commented
          Editing a comment
          I do agree, some of the pieces are beautiful in those mags. I just wish I could play better so that I could play more of them. They almost went in the trash. It looks like they were bi-monthly mags.

      • #19
        If I remember correctly, there were three distinct publications, each was published every other month. They functioned at 3 basic levels.
        - The simplest was written on two staves, with the pedal notes written 'small' on the LH bass clef, which made the pedal optional - a real bonus for organists with little or no pedal skills.
        - The middle one was written on three staves, but still leaned toward an evangelical audience, I think, with the occasional light classical piece,
        - The most challenging tipped the balance a bit toward a classical repertoire. It was my first exposure to Brahms and Reger, for example.

        The lowest level was published in landscape format, the other two were published in portrait format.

        If you subscribed to the second and third publications, you ended up getting one magazine each month. There was usually an educational article inside the front cover, and notes about the pieces on the inside and outside of the back cover. All in all, I found them extremely useful as a stepping stone in my own development as an organist.

        Sorry for the insecure memory. Once I developed my own skills more, I gave my whole collection away to an acquaintance who was learning the organ. The last time I had one in my hand was at least 20 years ago.


        • #20
          Practice slowly with metronome, you795a, and the world is yours.

          Don't apologize, regeron -- that's quite interesting and I'm sure accurate. Had never thought about only the easiest series being in 'landscape' mode. Should all organ music be printed that way? A short organist friend of mine rails against organbuiders routinely putting rows of stops or couplers between the top manual and the music rack. Somebody here will no doubt shoot that notion down.

          Wikipedia lists five Lorenz keyboard mags as active. For some reason I can't get into lorenz.com to verify it. I got in this afternoon but couldn't find any relevant info -- just a page on a January issue of one that wouldn't fully load.
          Last edited by Victor Jules; 02-12-2021, 12:56 AM.


          • #21
            Just to add more info about the Lorenz publications. Here is a page from their website:

            And here's a helpful paragraph from that page:

            "In 1898, E.S. Lorenz established the company’s first subscription magazine. The Organist provided a variety of music in different styles and difficulties for church organists. The magazine became the foundation upon which E.S. built what is now The Lorenz Corporation. The Organist later became a more focused publication containing easy and moderately easy organ music. It was later joined by further organ periodicals: The Organ Portfolio (launched in 1937) for intermediate music and The Sacred Organ Journal (launched in 1962) for moderately advanced music. These magazines brought new music and arrangements of classics directly to the doors of church musicians."

            From what I can tell from the Lorenz website, it seems that all three magazines are still available. If you look at the link, you will read that they also provided similar publications for accessible choral music.

            "Further keyboard magazines were established to meet the continuing demands of church musicians: The Church Pianist in 1984 and Keyboard Worship & Praise in 2007."


            • SchnarrHorn
              SchnarrHorn commented
              Editing a comment
              I did a search on the Lorenz site (follow this link: https://lorenz.com/shop?Search=subscriptions ) for 'subscription' and only 'The Organist' and 'The Sacred Organ Journal' returned (in addition to "The Church Pianist"). Not clear how one subscribes to them. The search result seems to be only for purchase of single copies.


            • Victor Jules
              Victor Jules commented
              Editing a comment
              What a heartwarming, all-American saga. Ellen Jane studied with Boulanger and got a doctorate after she retired! I've just emailed 'em to ask which magazines are still issued. Hope they'll survive the present nightmare.

          • #22
            If I remember correctly, when a certain peanut farmer was in the oval office, he embarked on a downward trajectory of taxing anything he could. Thus trying to spend his way out of a depression. One tax that we now see the long reaching results of, was to tax all published items from the time of their manufacturing rather than when a piece was sold.Publishers would print a number of scores or books and pay a tax on them when they were sold. So a publisher could print maybe 10 copies of a rarely sold piece and then sell them one at a time. Only paying for the labor and materials up front.This system served the publisher and consumer very well. Small shops could compete selling specialty pieces and lightly ordered pieces could be maintained in ready stock. So, as I understand, as the tax was being initiated publishers destroyed printed music and stopped printing slow sale pieces. This is one of the reasons you can buy almost any thing from European composers and virtually nothing from American organ composers. Just try and find the full catalog of Purvis, or the hundreds of composers listed in the St Cecelia catalog.


            • SchnarrHorn
              SchnarrHorn commented
              Editing a comment
              Well, now, that is interesting. I cannot confirm nor deny this tax. However, I will add an anecdote that seems to confirm it. When I had opportunities to visit downtown Chicago in the 1980's, I used to always stop in at the Carl Fischer music store. They had multiple floors of music of all types. Depending on who was at the counter, they'd let customers behind the counter to browse the organ section which consisted of a large number of filing cabinets containing their in-stock items. I noticed (as did other friends who frequented the store more than me) that the filing cabinets became more and more empty of stock as the decade progressed. There were usually a couple of copies of a given piece in a file folder. As time progressed, the file folders were still there, however more and more of them were empty, indicating items were not being reordered or they were no longer available. The store closed around 2000 I believe. I was out of the organ scene by that time and don't really know if any other store popped up, is still in operation, or if there are zero brick and mortar music stores in Chicago.


            • Victor Jules
              Victor Jules commented
              Editing a comment
              I've just liked a post for the first time, aeolian pat -- yours. Horrifying and unfortunately easy to believe.

          • #23
            The demise of printed music shops has been bittersweet indeed. The last one in NYC, a small one I wasn't familiar with, folded what seems like 5 years ago so it's prolly 10. I used to play in the lunchtime recital series at Grace Church on Bwy right near Carl Fischer and Cooper Union. When I finally thought to visit Fischer's I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Things I'd been itching to get my mitts on (Pierné's The Children's Crusade for one) were just sitting there in the appropriate part(s) of the endless grid of file cabinets.
            The publisher soldiers on, thank God


            • #24
              Lorenz's Wheat Williams writes

              Lorenz has been publishing organ magazines going back to our founding in 1890. Last year, because of business constraints due to the COVID crisis, we moved our magazines to digital download only, as PDF files. Our priority is to get the new music out there the best way we can.

              Unfortunately, due to licensing issues, we have ceased publication of our magazine Keyboard Worship & Praise. But the following are still going strong:
              • The Church Pianist
              • The Organist
              • The Organ Portfolio
              • The Sacred Organ Journal
              Subscribers can download each new issue as a PDF from our website as it is released.
              We continue to provide printed reprints of pieces from previous issues in our collection of “real book” volumes called, respectively,
              • The Church Pianist’s Library
              • Easy Organ Library
              • The Organist’s Library
              • The Sacred Organ Library
              which are published a couple of times each year.
              Yes, we are building a new website and there are unfortunately a few things we don’t have working properly yet. We certainly need a page about subscribing to our magazines.
              Until then, if you or anyone you know would like more information about subscribing to our magazines, please send an email to service@lorenz.com.
              I would point out that you can easily find recent volumes of our reprint series at these links:

              The Church Pianist’s Library
              Easy Organ Library
              The Organist’s Library
              The Sacred Organ Library

              Thanks for your support!

              I tried to order a back issue of SOJ to show som solidarity -- bit steep at $13 for a digital reprint -- but couldn't get it to show in my cart for checkout. Maybe I'll try again Monday by phone. Hope these folks are going to make it.


              • SchnarrHorn
                SchnarrHorn commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks for following up with all that info!! Good to hear that there are 3 organ journals still alive!!


            • #25
              My pleasure. Let's all pile on with orders as soon as the site's rebuilt.


              • #26
                I think many have indicated the issues behind increasing prices already, so I shall not reiterate them here. However, it should be noted that now we are beyond the mere advent of the internet age it is quite possible to shop around online to find the best price. I had wanted to purchase a copy of Hendrik Andriessen's Thema Met Variaties for some months, but I was not interested in paying around as much in postage as I would be paying for the score (which is a problem somewhat different to the actual topic of this thread). But I recently found a copy available through Presto Music 's website which cost me AUD$19.15, which included postage. This is a lovely piece of music, I encourage you all to purchase a copy, if you enjoy a modal feel you should definitely enjoy it, and after about a week-and-an-half of practice I have virtually learnt it (I would however want to practice it a bit more if I was going perform it of course to be extra sure that I wouldn't make any considerable mistakes).

                So back to the original issue, shop around. Also, and it is a reality of living in a modern world, different countries have different laws regarding what is considered public domain. Some things will be PD is the US but maybe not elsewhere (although this tends to be for exceptional cases); in Canada the rules are life +50 years which means things will come into PD sooner than other countries like the US, Australia and I think the EU: so you may find that a French composition from 1970 is now cheaper to buy from a Canadian business than from an European outlet since in Canada they will be free to make copies without paying copyright-related fees.


                • myorgan
                  myorgan commented
                  Editing a comment

                  That makes me wonder–if I travel to Canada, download a piece (or set of pieces) which are PD in Canada, then drive across the border to the US with the copies in my possession, am I in violation of copyright laws?;-)


                • Larason2
                  Larason2 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  You would be, unless the pieces are also public domain in the US. Whether the law is enforced or not is another matter. In practice, there are relatively few pieces where this would apply, particularly for organ. Examples of composers would be Ralph Vaughan Williams and others from that era.

              • #27
                Victory can come in the most unexpected forms, Sathrandur. (Love that name -- is if from Star Trek, Star Wars or Tolkien? :-) ) Friends and I couldn't find Dupré's Tombeau de Titelouze for under $40 to save our lives. (We were after its entrancing finale Placare Christe Servulis, natch.) Then suddenly there it was.... in the form of individual mvts at $4 each!

                Congrats on finding a good deal on the Andriessen. It's obviously a very popular piece. A seller has it for woodwinds and keyboard instrument for download to something called Newzik:
                Looks like a great tool for those that read scores digitally -- count me out:
                Worldcat lists a downloadable version of Thema met Variaties giving the publisher as J.R. van Rossum -- sounds highly unlikely.


                • #28
                  Oh yes -- Schnarrhorn (#14.1) -- public libraries and interlibrary loans (ILLs). You got one from the Library of Congress? Wow!

                  Many years ago I was bowled over by the Hancocks' performance of the Merkel duo sonata at a convention. Needless to say I was dying to get my hands on some of his solo works -- but how? There was nothing of him in the many foreign and domestic publishers' catalogs I had or at my local music store -- a marvelous old place almost literally full to the ceiling with classical scores, lots decades old, and teaching materials.

                  I didn't own any copies of The Progressive Organist or other books reprinting Merkel's short bonbons. But years after that convention I idly thought to see if the large library in my city (Plainfield NJ) held any printed music. Sakes alive, it did -- Merkel's solo organ sonatas and only about 3 or 4 other things, period! They were kept in the basement for some reason. Just couldn't believe it -- he was such an obscure composer at the time. I almost looked to see if "somebody up there was watching over me" and having a good chuckle. So let's keep public libraries in the back of our minds, fellow repertoire fiends.