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Anton Heiller? Has anyone heard of him? Questions?

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    Re: Anton Heiller? Has anyone heard of him? Questions?

    Tony, why don't you go to YouTube and type in "Heiller" and "organ" and see what you get. Some posts there have him as Anton Heiller. Others have him as A. Heiller, so the first name may or may not be helpful. Let us know which recordings you like the most.</P>


      Re: Anton Heiller? Has anyone heard of him? Questions?

      I listened to several youtube videos of Heiller and I don't hear the "beat breaks" that my teacher claimed he made, exactly like Bach. Heiller's style of playing is not what I expected from the words she told me and the instruction she gave me.</P>

      I'm starting to think the woman was a NUTT CASE!</P>

      She told me that my previous organ teacher taught me all wrong and that she could only teach me right because she learned from Heiller, who was the only one who could play like Bach.</P>

      After taking 4 years of organ lesson from this demanding and difficult to please woman, I ended up hating to play the organ, my one time passion in life, to only recently wanting to play the organ again, after decades of being off the bench.</P>

      I think I should throw out almost everything she taught me, especially dumb fingering that forced me to "break the beat!"</P>

      It just occurred to me that my organ teacher might be a member of this forum. In that case, she knows who she is!</P>
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        Re: Anton Heiller? Has anyone heard of him? Questions?

        Why put up with that for four years? [:O]</P>

        If such teaching only taught you to hate the organ, then she is no teacher!</P>

        But ... you should have left sooner.</P>


          Re: Anton Heiller? Has anyone heard of him? Questions?

          She was my organ teacher in college. I had to put up with her or I couldn't graduate.


            My experience as a young organist duplicated precisely that of Clarion and J. Reimer. Collected every organ 33 I could get my hands on. Listened endlessly to Helmut Walcha's magnificent boxed set -- unbeatable as an introduction to the great Bach works due to his majestic tempi and superb articulation. But everything changed when I got hold of Heiller's Vanguard LPs on the Marcussen organ. Now scratched like Edison wax cylinder recordings, I still have them . . . or I should say, they still have me.

            Three strengths, in my humble opinion, distinguish Heiller's playing from the rest of the pack.

            1) A powerful rhythmic drive that results in a compelling overall cumulative force.

            2) Conservative registration techniques that avoid such flashiness as frequent manual changes and adding stops every few measures. Long stretches are played straightforwardly, enabling listeners to follow thematic development on its own terms, as written into the music by Bach himself.

            3) Above all, a respect for the primacy -- if not the sanctity -- of the unbroken line. That does not mean a gooey legato with each note clinging to the next, leaving you gasping for air. What it means is the skillful use of the unbroken line to bring out the interplay of inner voices so the listener can hear/see how they are connected with one another. It also means long pedal lines not chopped up for the sake of variety where such variety adds nothing to the continuity of the line and distracts from the goings-on above it; Heiller's footwork often results in pedal passages like a smooth moving sidewalk.

            Along about the 70s it became the rage to (i) play Bach obscenely fast, (ii) add trills where not written or called for, and (iii) chop-chop lines indiscriminately, like Lizzie Borden. It did not take long for the rage to become orthodoxy.

            Heiller's playing challenges that orthodoxy and stands to this day in complete contradistinction.

            Tony, you must somehow get hold of Heiller's Vanguard recordings. They used to be on YouTube but disappeared. Only when you hear with your own ears Heiller's Pasacaglia and Fugue and his E-Minor Prelude and Fugue (the "Wedge") will you understand the comments above.

            Of equal interest -- to this organist, at least -- was Heiller's towering recording of the 18 Great ("Leipzig") Chorales, which surprisingly few organists know or play. There you will hear an entirely different Heiller, with a soaring emotional expressiveness.

            For my money -- for Hermann Keller's money too, I'm glad to say -- the Trio super Allein Gott in der Hoh sei Ehr BWV 664 from the 18 Great Chorales is a stunning jewel that Heiller makes shine like ya never seen a trio sonata shine before.

            The Vivaldi Organ Concertos are guaranteed to knock your socks off as well. Heiller's articulation here is quite different, as he assumes a violinistic touch that's exciting.

            P.S. The Vanguard recordings provide in disputable proof that your college teacher was misrepresenting Heiller's ideas. But let's give her a pass -- maybe she studied with Alan Heiller instead of Anton and never knew the difference, whad'ya think?

            P.P.S. Had dinner once with one of Heiller's students, who said that Heiller could, without practice, simply open up Bach's music and start playing a recital. Never missed a note. Ever. Eat your heart out.




              You can also hear the Anton Heiller Memorial organ being played in this video.



                Wow, just checked out some of his music on youtube. Thanks for the introduction.


                  Wow, wow, and here I thought I was the chief Heiller epigone. No matter, what you said, in spades. For more examples and confirmation, please get the Heiller at Harvard CD box set (I co-produced) from OHS. All the stories are true, the playing skills true, the rhythmic swing, the power, and machinelike (in the good sense) effortlessness and contrapuntal clarity, yada yada. Pedal trills!

                  That poor student and his teacher; can't have been Christa or Yuko or ... wonder who the heck it was?