Current Issue

February 2018 - April 2018 (Number 383)

Issue 383 includes features on: as well as lots of news from the UK and abroad, reviews of choral and organ CDs, books, concerts, new organ music, new installations, letters, and more.

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Cover of Organ magazine current issue


Organa Ruralia

Organa Ruralia

Notes on two historic organs in the Czech Republic

We are pleased to print personal impressions by two distinguished organists from the Czech Republic concerning historic instruments in small rural towns which have survived the vicissitudes of history Pavel Svoboda and Jaroslav Tüma.

A personal recollection: in 2012, I was asked by Stanislav Kupka from Mélcany whether I knew what kind of organ was at the local Hussite church.

Although I grew up in Dobruška, until then I have never been in the choir loft of that local church. I took at face value what I had been told by Mr Miroslav Drašner, the organist at the church of Saint Wenceslas and a graduate of the Brno Conservatory, who had once told me he would go there to play for funerals on some awful electronic keyboard. But he never mentioned that right behind his back there was a non-functional pipe organ.


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The Henry Willis Royal Albert Hall Organ – A Day-Long Grand Celebration in May

Royal Albert Hall

A report by James Palmer

Notwithstanding the fascinating feature in our last issue on the World’s Biggest Organs, when it was unveiled 146 years ago the organ in the new Royal Albert Hall in London was easily the biggest musical instrument in the world. In the almost century-and-a-half since its inception a surely unique roster of great composers and the most notable musicians, from Anton Bruckner to Frank Zappa, have played in this legendary Hall.

So it is appropriate that this year the Royal Albert Hall is mounting what is termed as ‘A Grand Organ Celebration’ on Tuesday May 15, encompassing a day of highly significant events, offering a fresh perspective on one of the world’s most renowned and revered musical instruments.

These day-long events will include performances, a pre-concert talk featuring a live relay of the 9,999-pipe organ’s inner workings, as well as Education & Outreach events in partnership with St Paul’s Cathedral.


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Organ Composers’ Anniversaries – 2018

John Collins


The author offers his annual survey of composers of organ music worthy of commemoration during the coming year.

In 2018 there are several composers whose anniversaries can be commemorated, albeit some of the dates are not known for certain; a few of the names listed below will need no introduction but there are also quite a few lesser-known names listed here whose compositions are well worth exploring. No claim is made for completion - and there is no guarantee that every edition is in print – there may well also be editions by other publishers.

Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg 1718-95 was a German theorist, critic and composer. He published several important treatises including I Principi del Clavicembalo, Abhandlung von der Fuge and Die Kunst das Klavier zu spielen. His numerous compositions for keyboard include Sei Sonate per Cembalo 1755, edited by Raimund Schächer for Carus Verlag CV18.002/00 and by Laura Cerutti for Armelin, Padua AMM10. Being very similar to C.P.E.Bach’s organ sonatas, they would also sound well on the organ.

The Fughe e Capricci 1777, which contains a prelude, 2 Capricci and 7 Fughe, has been edited by Martin Weyer for Forberg F25048 and is available as a facsimile from Fuzeau and from Broude Brothers, New York as PF 142.

The Versuch in figurirten Choräle sowohl für die Orgel als für das Clavichord I which contains 21 pieces, and the Zweiter Versuch in Figurirte Choräle …. Part II ca. 1792 which contains a further 15 pieces are available as facsimiles from Broude Brothers, New York as PF136 and 137. Other works best suited to stringed keyboard instruments appeared in prints and anthologies, several of which are also available in modern editions.



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Music and the Reformation

Martin Luther

Rev David Bunney

Marking the half-Millennium of the Reformation, the following paper was given at the URC Music Day on October 21st last year.

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017 is an interesting focus, but based on a token gesture which has little historical evidence. On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.

Or did he? There’s no historical basis for this, and Luther, who was meticulous in keeping records, never mentions it. The old Hollywood principle applies: never let truth spoil a good story. What is indisputable is that on this date Luther’s challenge to the authority of the Pope became public.







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Rubrics: before and beyond

Dan Locklair

Dan Locklair

The distinguished American composer contributes the latest addition to our occasional series in which we invite composers to write about their organ music.

Rubrics, my five-movement organ work, is about to turn 30! Composed in the spring of 1988 on commission from the Organ Artists Series of Pittsburgh and premiered the following year in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by the American organist Mary Preston.

It has been exciting to see Rubrics become a part of the organ repertoire world-wide. Of course, in order for that to happen with any composition, it must have performers who embrace and champion the piece. Without those champions, composers and their compositions never have a chance. In the UK, the US, and elsewhere, I continue to be filled with gratitude for each and every musician who has played and/or recorded Rubrics.

That appreciation would certainly start with American organist, Barbara Harbach, who initially performed Rubrics widely and was the first to record it, and to the beloved American organ virtuoso and distinguished Indiana University Chancellor’s Professor of Music Emeritus, Marilyn Keiser. By introducing Rubrics to the UK at the 1993 Southern Cathedral Festival and, the following year in America at the 42nd National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Dallas, Texas, Marilyn Keiser is clearly deserving of a gold medal for popularizing Rubrics! She has performed the piece in part or whole in hundreds of recitals, taught it to numerous students over the years, and commercially recorded it twice, with her Loft recording being the latest.


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Implementation of the Aristide Cavaillé-Coll’s Vatican project in Poland

Michal Szostak

Polish Organ

Particular attention should be pay on the project from 1875 of monumental organ for the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome made by the great French visionary of the symphonic organ, Aristide Cavaillé-Coll (1811-1899). This 124-stops colossus was to crown the work of Cavaillé-Coll and was “to complement the artistic achievements of the greatest masters of architecture, sculpture and painting, because music, the most religious of fine arts, did not have a worthy monument in this place”.

Unfortunately, this project has never been implemented at its destination. However, at the beginning of the 21st century, around 130 years after the idea came into being, in the small village of Lichen Stary, located in the geographical center of Poland, in the largest Catholic temple of the country, the vision of Cavaillé-Coll materialized.

In the years 2002-2007, the Polish company "Zaklady Organowe Zych” according to the concept of prof. Andrzej Chorosinski reproduced the sound of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll's organ in a monumental instrumentarium with 157 stops managed by a six-manual console.

This article describes in detail the design of Aristide Cavaillé-Coll's organ for the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome, completed organ of the Basilica of Our Lady of Lichen in Poland and a comparative analysis of these two sound concepts.


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