Category Archives: Features

Dr. Susan Armstrong and Michael Sklader perform at Elm Street Congregational Church in Southbridge, MA

Elm Street Congregational Church located in Southbridge, Massachusetts, is proud to present a concert featuring internationally known concert organist Dr. Susan Armstrong on Sunday, November 19, 2000 beginning at 7pm.

Dr. Armstrong will be performing on the Church’s 1891 Johnson Tracker Organ. Dr. Armstrong received her Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University, is an associate of the American Guild of Organists, and writes frequently for The New England Organist, and American Organist magazines. She has concertized widely throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada.

A versatile player, she has performed music ranging from Baroque and American music to “Great Romantic Masterpieces” such as Fantasies by Max Reger, and Symphonies of Vierne and Widor. She combines historical perspectives with an individualized concert presentation and performance for each occasion.

Performing with Dr. Armstrong will be Michael Sklader. Mr. Sklader has been playing the organ since he was 13 years old. He is currently the organist at the Portland Street Baptist Church in Haverhill, Massachusetts, where he plays an 1885 Hook and Hastings organ. A graduate of Montclair State College, he has performed in concerts throughout New England and New York.

The concert is part of Elm Street Congregational Church’s 200th Anniversary Celebration, and is being sponsored by the Men’s Fellowship group. Following the concert, a reception featuring food and fellowship will be held sponsored by the Women’s Fellowship group. Admission to the concert is free and opened to the public. Elm Street Congregational Church is located on the corner of Elm and Park Streets in Southbridge, Massachusetts. For more information, please contact the Church office at 508-764-8058.

Margaret Irwin-Brandon leads a Pipe Organs of Italy Tour

The Organs of Italy tour originator and guide, Margaret Irwin-Brandon, performer and teacher specializing in early keyboard instruments, enjoys a life-long interest in the historic organs of Italy and their music. Organs of Italy tours focus on instruments which cover a broad range of size, age and importance.

The Details: 

Cost of the tour, including land transportation in Italy: $1900.00
Single supplement: $400.
Contact Margaret Irwin-Brandon:

Hotels with breakfast
5 festive meals with regional specialties
Tips and taxes
Recitals & garden admissions

does not include:
Passport fee
Air passage to Italy
Items of a personal nature
Trip cancellation or travel insurance

Reservations may be made with a deposit of $400, payable by October 5, 2000. Reservations will be made in the order of receipt of deposit. Late reservations are subject to space availability.

Cancellations made before Sept. 15 will result in a full return of payment. After Sept, 15, refunds will be subject to charges by carriers, hotels and other contractors. Cancellation insurance is recommended.

Prices are based on exchange rates in effect on August 15, 2000 and are subject to adjustment before the start of the tour.

Leadership: Organs of Italy tour originator and guide, Margaret Irwin- Brandon, performer and teacher specializing in early keyboard instru- ments, enjoys a life-long interest in the historic organs of Italy and their music.Organs of Italy tours focus on instruments which cover a broad range of size, age and importance. Ms. Irwin- Brandon is also the founder and director of Arcadia Players, a period instrument ensemble specializiing in the music of the Baroque.

ITINERARY, Oct. 28 – Nov. 4

Saturday, Oct. 28 PISTOIA
Gather at the Cathedral at 4:30 pm.
“Choir rehearsal” for Sunday’s mass with Umberto Pineschi
Opening reception

Sunday, Oct. 29
Worship in the Cathedral
Organs of PISTOIA
Walking tour of several Pistoese organs by Hermanns, Agati and Tronci.
Dinner together
Recital in Serra (new Ghilardi organ)

Monday, Oct. 30
More organs of Pistoia
Afternoon trip to the villages and organs of TREPPIO & S. MARCELLO

Tuesday, Oct. 31 LUCCA/CORSANICO
Morning garden tour to Villa Garzoni
Inner-city organs in Lucca,
Afternoon visit to Lucca’s organ builder, Glauco Ghilardi
Evening in Corsanico: Recital & Dinner

Wednesday, Nov. 1 BOLOGNA
San Petronio’s famous Da Prato and Malamini organs demonstrated by Lieuwe Tamminga. Visits to other instruments, including the church of San Martino.

Thursday, Nov. 2 FLORENCE
free day

Friday, Nov. 3
Morning organ visits to La Badia and S. Niccolo
Afternoon tour of Baroque gardens:
La Gamberaia, La Pietra
Closing dinner

Saturday, Nov. 4
Farewell breakfast and check-out.

Optional extension:, November 4, 5, 6 VENICE

Organ Crawl in the Finger Lakes region, NYS led by Chemung Valley chapter of AGO

Chemung Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists invites you to join us for an Autumn jaunt to Lodi, Ovid, Interlaken, and Trumansburg, New York

0ctober 28, 2000
Meet: Lodi Historical Society
South Main ST
Lodi, New York
10:00 a.m. 1852 E. & G. G. Hook
14 ranks
Holy Cross Catholic Church
7231 South Main ST
Ovid, New York
11:00 a.m. 1862 Builder unknown
7 ranks
Lunch: Ginny Lee Café
Wagner Vineyards
9322 Route 414
Lodi, New York
Reformed Church
8315 Main ST
Interlaken, New York
2:00 p.m. 1928 Mõller/Strauss
12 ranks
First Presbyterian Church
Main ST
Trumansburg, New York
3:00 p.m. 1923 Casavant/Strauss
15 ranks
First United Methodist Church
Main ST
Trumansburg, New York
3:45 p.m. 1860 Garrett House
16 ranks

Please contact David Lenington to make reservations for luncheon buffet.
PH: 570-268-5035 evenings

Alexander Fiseisky plays Bach Marathon in Duesseldorf, Germany

On September 23, 2000, Alexander Fiseisky will perform the entire organ works of J.S. Bach in one day. See the program, stoplist, and Alexander’s bio here in both English and German.

Program 1 | Program 2 | Program 3 | Program 4 | Program 5 | Program 6 | Program 7 | Program 8 | Program 9 | Program 10 | Program 11 | Program 12 | Program 13 | Program 13 | Program 14 | Program 15 | Program 16

Organ and Stoplist of St Margareta Basilica   |   Alexander Fiseisky’s biography   |   About this performance

More about Alexander Fiseisky

Gesamte Orgelwerke / The Complete Organ Works

anläßlich des 250. Todestages von Johann Sebastian Bach /
In Commemoration of the 250-th Anniversary of the Death of Johann Sebastian Bach

gespielt von / played by Alexander Fiseisky
an der/on the Rieger-Organ

In tiefer Verehrung und zur Erinnerung an den größten Komponisten des letzten Jahrtausends
In profound honour and remembrance of the greatest composer of the second millennium

Program 1: 6.30 Uhr

Präludium und Fuge C-Dur, BWV 545
Valet will ich dir geben, BWV 735
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 718

Präludium und Fuge g-Moll, BWV 535

Trio-Sonate e-Moll, BWV 528
Adagio. Vivace
Un poco Allegro

Choralbearbeitungen: Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich, BWV 732
Jesu, meine Freude, BWV 713
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 706
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’, BWV 711
Herzlich tut mich verlangen, BWV 727

Präludium und Fuge c-Moll, BWV 546

Präludium und Fuge d-Moll, BWV 539

Choralpartita “Sei gegrüßet, Jesu gütig”, BWV 768

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Program 28.00 Uhr

Präludium und Fuge C-Dur, BWV 531

Valet will ich dir geben, BWV 736
Gottes Sohn ist kommen, BWV 703
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 730
Christ lag in Todesbanden, BWV 695
Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, BWV 690

Fantasie und Fuge a-Moll, BWV 561

Einige canonische Veränderungen über das Weihnachtslied:
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her, BWV 769a

Concerto d-Moll, BWV 596
Ohne Tempobezeichnung
Largo e spiccato
Ohne Tempobezeichnung

Fuge c-Moll, BWV 575

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Program 3: 9.00 Uhr

Toccata (Präludium) und Fuge F-Dur, BWV 540

Choralpartita “Christ, der du bist der helle Tag”, BWV 766

Concerto a-Moll, BWV 593
Ohne Tempobezeichnung

Fantasie C-Dur, BWV 570

Präludium und Fuge G-Dur, BWV 550

Präludium und Fuge a-Moll, BWV 543

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Program 4: 10.00 Uhr

Präludium und Fuge G-Dur, BWV 541

Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 699
Herr Christ, der ein’ge Gottes-Sohn, BWV 698
Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BWV 697
Wir Christenleut’, BWV 710
Ach Gott, vom Himmel sieh’ darein, BWV 741
An Wasserflüssen Babylon, BWV 653b
Wo soll ich fliehen hin, BWV 694
Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, BWV 691
Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott, BWV 720

Trio-Sonate Es-Dur, BWV 525
Ohne Tempobezeichnung

Passacaglia c-Moll, BWV 582

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Programm 5: 11.00 Uhr

Fuge c-Moll über ein Thema von Giovanni Legrenzi, BWV 574

Vom Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her, BWV 700
In dulci jubilo, BWV 729
Jesus, meine Zuversicht, BWV 728
Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731
Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein, BWV 734

Fuge h-Moll über ein Thema von Corelli, BWV 579

Präludium und Fuge C-Dur, BWV 547

Pastorale (Pastorella) F-Dur, BWV 590

Toccata und Fuge d-Moll (dorisch), BWV 538

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Programm 6: 12.00 Uhr

Präludium und Fuge a-Moll, BWV 551

Choralpartita “O Gott, du frommer Gott”, BWV 767

Trio G-Dur, BWV 1027a

Arie F-Dur, BWV 587

Allabreve D-Dur, BWV 589

Trio-Sonate G-Dur, BWV 530

Präludium und Fuge e-Moll, BWV 548

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Program 7: 13.00 Uhr

Orgelbüchlein (45 Choralbearbeitungen, BWV 599-644)
1. Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
2. Gott, durch deine Güte
3. Herr Christ, der ein’ge Gottes-Sohn
4. Lob sei dem allmächtigen Gott
5. Puer natus in Bethlehem
6. Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ
7. Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich
8. Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her
9. Vom Himmel kam der Engel Schar
10. In dulci jubilo
11. Lobt Gott, ihr Christen, allzugleich
12. Jesu, meine Freude
13. Christum wir sollen loben schon
14. Wir Christenleut’
15. Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen
16. Das alte Jahr vergangen ist
17. In dir ist Freude
18. Mit Fried’ und Freud’ ich fahr’ dahin
19. Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf
20. O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig
21. Christe, du Lamm Gottes
22. Christus, der uns selig macht
23. Da Jesus an dem Kreuze stund
24. O Mensch, bewein’ dein’ Sünde groß
25. Wir danken dir, Herr Jesu Christ
26. Hilf Gott, daß mir’s gelinge
27. Christ lag in Todesbanden
28. Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
29. Christ ist erstanden
30. Erstanden ist der heil’ge Christ
31. Erschienen ist der herrliche Tag
32. Heut triumphieret Gottes Sohn
33. Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist
34. Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’
35. Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier
36. Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot’
37. Vater unser im Himmelreich
38. Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt
39. Es ist das Heil uns kommen her
40. Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
41. In dich hab’ ich gehoffet, Herr
42. Wenn wir in höchsten Nöten sein
43. Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten
44. Alle Menschen müssen sterben
45. Ach wie nichtig, ach wie flüchtig

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Program 8: 14.30 Uhr

Dritter Teil der Klavierübung (“Orgelmesse”)

Präludium Es-Dur, BWV 552, 1

Choralbearbeitungen, BWV 669-689:
Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit
Christe, aller Welt Trost
Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist
Kyrie, Gott Vater in Ewigkeit
Christe, aller Welt Trost
Kyrie, Gott heiliger Geist
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’
Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot’
Dies sind die heil’gen zehn Gebot’
Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott
Wir glauben all’ an einen Gott
Vater unser im Himmelreich
Vater unser im Himmelreich
Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam
Christ, unser Herr, zum Jordan kam
Aus tiefer Not schrei’ ich zu dir
Aus tiefer Not schrei’ ich zu dir
Jesus Christus unser Heiland
Jesus Christus unser Heiland

Fuge Es-Dur, BWV 552, 2

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Program 9: 16.00 Uhr

Acht kleine Präludien und Fugen, BWV 553-560
Präludium und Fuge C-Dur
Präludium und Fuge d-Moll
Präludium und Fuge e-Moll
Präludium und Fuge F-Dur
Präludium und Fuge G-Dur
Präludium und Fuge g-Moll
Präludium und Fuge a-Moll
Präludium und Fuge B-Dur

Trio-Sonate c-Moll, BWV 526

Fantasia und Imitatio h-Moll, BWV 563

Fantasie (Präludium) und Fuge g-Moll, BWV 542

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Program 10: 17.00 Uhr

Fantasie und Fuge c-Moll, BWV 537

Choralpartita “Ach, was soll ich Sünder machen?”, BWV 770

Präludium G-Dur, BWV 568
Fuge G-Dur, BWV 577

Trio-Sonate C-Dur, BWV 529

Präludium und Fuge h-Moll, BWV 544

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Program 11: 18.00 Uhr

Gottesdienst mit Musik von Johann Sebastian Bach

Präludium a-Moll, BWV 569

Sechs Choräle von verschiedener Art (Schübler-Choräle), BWV 645-650:
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme
Wo soll ich fliehen hin
Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten
Meine Seele erhebet den Herren
Ach bleib’ bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ
Kommst du nun, Jesu, vom Himmel herunter

Toccata d-Moll, BWV 565

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Program 12: 19.30 Uhr

Präludium und Fuge c-Moll, BWV 549

Fuge G-Dur, BWV 576

Ach Gott und Herr, BWV 714
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’, BWV 717
Lob sei dem allmächt’gen Gott, BWV 704
Herr Gott, dich loben wir, BWV 725

Toccata (Präludium) und Fuge E-Dur, BWV 566

Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich, BWV 719
Erbarm’ dich mein, o Herre Gott, BWV 721
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’, BWV 726
In dich hab’ ich gehoffet, Herr, BWV 712

Concerto C-Dur, BWV 594
Ohne Tempobezeichnung
Recitativo. Adagio

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Programm 13: 20.30 Uhr

Fuge g-Moll, BWV 578

Orgelchoräle der Neumeister-Sammlung, BWV 1090-1098
Wir Christenleut’
Das alte Jahr vergangen ist
Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf
Herzliebster Jesu, was hast du verbrochen
O Jesu, wie ist dein Gestalt
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig
Christe, der du bist Tag und Licht
Ehre sei dir, Christe, der du leidest Not
Wir glauben all an einen Gott

Trio G-Dur, BWV 586

Orgelchoräle der Neumeister-Sammlung, BWV 1099-1108
Aus tiefer Not schrei ich zu dir
Allein zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt
Du Friedefürst, Herr Jesu Christ
Erhalt uns, Herr, bei deinem Wort
Wenn dich Unglück tut greifen an
Jesu, meine Freude
Gott ist mein Heil, mein Hilf und Trost
Jesu, meines Lebens Leben
Als Jesus Christus in der Nacht

Trio c-Moll, BWV 585

Orgelchoräle der Neumeister-Sammlung, BWV 1109-1120
Ach Gott, tu dich erbarmen
O Herre Gott, dein göttlich Wort
Nun lasset uns den Leib begrab’n
Christus, der ist mein Leben
Ich hab’ mein Sach’ Gott heimgestelt
Herr Jesu Christ, du höchstes Gut
Herzlich lieb hab’ ich dich, o Herr
Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan
Alle Menschen müssen sterben
Werde munter, mein Gemüte
Wie nach einer Wasserquelle
Christ, der du bist der helle Tag

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Program 14: 22.00 Uhr

Präludium und Fuge f-Moll, BWV 534

Gottes Sohn ist kommen/Gott, durch deine Güte, BWV 724
Vom Himmel hoch da komm’ ich her, BWV 701
Christum wir sollen loben schon, BWV 696
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’, BWV 709
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’, BWV 715

Fuga sopra il Magnificat, BWV 733

Concerto C-Dur, BWV 595

Trio d-Moll, BWV 583

Toccata (Toccata, Adagio und Fuge) C-Dur, BWV 564

Canzona, BWV 588

Präludium und Fuge D-Dur, BWV 532

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Programm 15: 23.00 Uhr

Präludium und Fuge e-Moll, BWV 533

Gelobet seist du, Jesu Christ, BWV 722
Vom Himmel hoch, da komm’ ich her, BWV 738
Vater unser im Himmelreich, BWV 737
Wie schön leuchtet der Morgenstern, BWV 739

Fuge G-Dur
Machs mit mir, Gott, nach deiner Güt, BWV 957

Trio-Sonate d-Moll, BWV 527
Adagio e dolce

Fuge C-Dur, BWV 946

Präludium und Fuge A-Dur, BWV 536

Concerto G-Dur, BWV 592 Ohne Tempobezeichnung

Fantasie c-Moll, BWV 562

Fantasie G-Dur (Pièce d’Orgue), BWV 572

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Program 16: 24.00 Uhr

Achtzehn Choräle, BWV 651-667, 668a
Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott
Komm, heiliger Geist, Herre Gott
An Wasserflüssen Babylon
Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’
O Lamm Gottes, unschuldig
Nun danket alle Gott
Von Gott will ich nicht lassen
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’
Allein Gott in der Höh’ sei Ehr’
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
Jesus Christus, unser Heiland
Komm, Gott Schöpfer, heiliger Geist
Vor deinen Thron tret’ ich

About this performance:

Für die Zusammenstellung der Programmfolge wurde W. Schmieders Thematisch-systematisches Verzeichnis der musikalischen Werke von Johann Sebastian Bach zugrunde gelegt. In das Programm sind alle Orgelwerke aufgenommen, die nachweislich von J. S. Bach komponiert wurden. Zusätzlich sind auch einige Kompositionen enthalten, bei denen es fraglich ist, ob hier Bach wirklich der Komponist ist. Nicht aufgenommen wurden diejenigen Werke, die unvollendet geblieben sind. Von den Werken, die in mehrere Versionen überliefert sind, wurde nur eine ausgewählt. Zwischen den einzelnen Programmen ist jeweils nur eine kurze Pause von ca. 3 – 5 Minuten geplant. Das Publikum wird während dieser Unterbrechungen um größtmögliche Ruhe gebeten, um die Aufmerksamkeit auf die Musik hin und die tontechnische Aufzeichnung nicht zu stören. Mit der Aufführung ist auch folgender Benefiz-Aspekt verbunden: Der finanzielle Erlös soll für die Weiterentwicklung der Orgelausbildung an der Russischen Gnessin Musikakademie in Moskau bestimmt sein. The programme of the complete cycle is based on Schmieder’s ‘Systematic Thematic Catalogue of the Musical Works of Johann Sebastian Bach’. All the organ works which demonstrably are by Bach are included in the programme. In addition there are some compositions over which some questions of Bach’s authorship are not settled. Of those works which have several variants, normally only one version has been chosen. Unfinished works of the composer have not been included. Between the individual programmes there will be a short pause of approximately 3 – 5 minutes. The audience is respectfully requested to remain as quiet as possible during the intervals in order to maintain the sense of deep reflection upon the music, and the entire concert is also being recorded. There is the further beneficial purpose to this performance, that its profits will be used to continue the development of the teaching of the organ at the Russian Gnessin’s Academy of Music in Moscow.
Alexander Fiseisky
Alexander Fiseisky wurde in Moskau geboren. Er studierte am Moskauer Konservatorium unter Professor Vera Gornostajewa Klavier und Orgel bei Professor Leonid Roisman. Seine weitere Ausbildung vervollkommnete er in Meisterklassen bei Wolfgang Schetelich, Leo Krämer, Daniel Roth und Jean Guillou. Alexander Fiseisky ist Solo-Organist der Moskauer Staatlichen Philharmonischen Gesellschaft und Leiter der Orgelklasse an der Russischen Gnessin Musikakademie. Eine beachtliche Anzahl von Kompositionen sind ihm gewidmet, wie z. B. die von Michael Kollontaj, Wladimir Rjabow, Milena Aroutjunova und Arif Mirsojew. Er hat an vielen bedeutenden Festivals sowohl in der ehemaligen Sowjetunion als auch im Ausland teilgenommen. Er betätigt sich als Jury-Mitglied bei nationalen als auch internationalen Orgelwettbewerben, wie z. B. beim Calgary Internationalen Orgel-Festival (Canada), dem St. Albans Internationalen Orgel-Festival (England) usw.. Durch Vorträge und Meisterklassen-Kurse an der Royal Academy of Music in London und dem Internationalen Orgel-Festival in Oundle (England), Musikhochschule Wien, Musikhochschule Hamburg, Peabody Conservatoire in Baltimore (USA) usw. erlangte er internationales Ansehen, sowohl als Tutor als auch als Musikwissenschaftler. Alexander Fiseisky hat viele Einspielungen gemacht, einschließlich des gesamten Orgelwerkes von J. S. Bach. Er ist ferner tätig als Sachverständiger in allen Orgelfragen seines Landes, organisierte zahlreiche Festivals und wissenschaftliche Konferenzen. Mit der Veröffentlichung einer Anthologie “Orgelmusik in Russland” im Bärenreiter-Verlag (8217-8219) ist er als Herausgeber sehr darum bemüht, das Beste aus der russischen Orgeltradition dem Westen zu vermitteln.

Born in Moscow, Alexander Fiseisky has become one of Russia’s premier and most influential organists. He studied piano at the Moscow State Conservatoire under Professor Vera Gornostajeva and organ under Professor Leonid Roizman. He had further guidance and masterclasses from Wolfgang Schetelich, Leo Krämer, Daniel Roth and Jean Guillou. Alexander Fiseisky is an official organ soloist of the Moscow State Philharmonic Society and Head of the Organ Class of the Russian Gnessin’s Academy of Music. A significant number of premières of works which he has given have been dedicated to him – including compositions by Mikhail Kollontay, Vladimir Ryabov, Milena Aroutjunova, and Arif Mirzoyev. He has performed at many of the major festivals in the former USSR and abroad. He regularly appears as a jury member of national and international organ competitions including Calgary International Organ Festival (Canada) and St. Albans International Organ Festival (UK), etc. His lectures and masterclasses at the Royal Academy of Music in London and Oundle International Organ Festival (UK), Musikhochschule Vienna (Austria), Musikhochschule Hamburg (Germany), Peabody Conservatoire in Baltimore (USA), etc., established his international reputation both as a tutor and musicologist. Alexander Fiseisky has many recordings to his credit, including the complete organ works of J. S. Bach. He also continues to be nationally involved in organ matters in Russia, organizing a number of festivals and scientific conferences. He is strongly advocating the introduction of the best of Russian organ tradition to the West by editing an Anthology of Russian Organ Music by Bärenreiter-Verlag (8217-8219).

The Organ of St Margareta Basilica
Um die Jahrhundertwende schuf die Firma Fabricius eine neue Orgel, die auf der Westempore Platz fand. Mitte der dreißiger Jahre wurde diese durch eine größere ersetzt. Nach dem Abriß der Empore gelangte diese Orgel 1957 in das südliche Querschiff. Mit Beginn der Restaurierungsarbeiten 1975 befand sich die Orgel in einem sehr schlechten Zustand und wurde ausgelagert. Eine Restaurierung wäre wiederum Flickwerk geworden, das nicht zu rechtfertigende Kosten verursacht hätte, so daß der einzige realistische Weg vorwärts war, eine neue Orgel zu bestellen. Die Auswahl des Orgelbaumeisters gelang relativ schnell, die Fa. Rieger aus Schwarzach in Österreich erhielt den Auftrag für ein Instrument mit 40 Registern auf 3 Manualen und Pedal. Zu langwierigen Auseinandersetzungen führte dann aber die Frage des Standortes der Orgel. Die Südwand wurde gewählt, und die damals gefundene Lösung bleibt – für jeden hörbar, der sich im mittleren und hinteren Bereich aufhält – akustisch gesehen ein Kompromiß, wenn wahrscheinlich auch der beste, der gefunden werden konnte. Die Fa. Rieger schuf ein Werk, das durch seine große klangliche Geschlossenheit, seine der schwierigen Akustik angepaßte dezente Kraft und seine Vielseitigkeit viele positive Beurteilungen erfahren hat. Durch die Verwendung erlesener Materialien und die an guten Traditionen orientierte Bauweise wird diese Orgel auf lange Sicht ihre Aufgaben in der Liturgie und in Konzerten erfüllen können. Diese Vielseitigkeit, die im Klang der Orgel deutlich hörbar wird, erlaubt es, stilistische Vielfalt zu pflegen und Musik mit unterschiedlichstem Hintergrund aufzuführen.

At the turn of the century Fabricius built a new organ in the church’s west end gallery. They considerably rebuilt it again in the mid-1930s, and after the demolition of the gallery the organ was removed to the south transept in 1957. By the start of restoration work in 1975 the organ was not only in a poor state but, being stored temporarily in an unsuitable place, such further damage was done as to render any further repair unjustifiable; the realistic way forward was to commission an entirely new organ. The choice of builder was made relatively quickly, Rieger of Schwarzach in Austria being commissioned for an instrument of 40 stops over three manuals and pedals. Somewhat longer deliberation was needed as to its position within the church. The south wall of the transept was chosen, and it is probably the best overall solution, and Rieger’s work, with its tonal unity, its ‘subtle strength’ suited to the difficult acoustic, and its versatility, was favourably received. Construction according to time honoured traditions, with materials of superior quality, ensures a long term ability to fulfil all that is required of it within both the liturgical and concert fields. This eclecticism, as the sound of the organ itself ringingly declares, allows the stylistic performance of music from many different backgrounds upon it.

Klaus Wallrath

The Disposition:
1. Pommer 16′
2. Principal 8′
3. Spitzflöte 8′
4. Octav 4′
5. Nachthorn 4′
6. Superoctav 2′
7. Mixtur V 1 1/3′
8. Zimbel III 1/2′
9. Cornet V 8′
10. Trompete 8′
11. Holzgedackt 8′
12. Principal 4′
13. Koppel 4′
14. Gemshorn 2′
15. Quintlein 1 1/3′
16. Scharf IV 1′
17. Rankett 16′
18. Krummhorn 8′
19. Bourdon 8′
20. Salicional 8′
21. Voix Celeste 8′
22. Prestant 4′
23. Rohrflöte 4′
24. Nazard 2 2/3′
25. Flöte 2′
26. Tierce 1 3/5′
27. Sifflet 1′
28. Plein Jeu V 2′
29. Basson 16′
30. Hautbois 8′
31. Clairon 4′
32. Principal 16′
33. Subbaß 16′
34. Octav 8′
35. Gedackt 8′
36. Choralbaß 4′
37. Rohrschelle 2′
38. Rauschpfeife IV 2 2/3′
39. Posaune 16′
40. Trompete 8′
Koppeln / Couplers:
I/II, III/II, III/I, I/P, II/P, III/P6 Generalsetzer, jeweils 4 Werksetzer
Mechanische Spiel- und Registertraktur6 Generals, 4 Divisionals
Tracker action, mechanical stop action
© Alexander Fiseisky


Edward A. Moore and Marvin Mills in performance at National City Christian Church, Washington, DC

On Friday, September 29 at 8 p.m., Dr. Edward A. Moore, the new minister of music at National City Christian Church, will present his DC debut organ recital, teaming up with the church’s new associate minister of music, Marvin Mills.


National City Fanfare is a new work commissioned from composer Aaron David Miller. It was written for Dr. Edward A. Moore to commemorate his appointment as Minister of Music at National City Christian Church in Washington, DC. Aaron David Miller is presently Associate Organist and Assistant Director of Music at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, Dr. Miller is in great demand as a performer, improviser and composer. In 1996, he won the top prize at the AGO National Improvisation Competition, and in 1998, he earned the Bach and Improvisation prizes at the Calgary International Organ Festival Competition. In 1999, his Concerto for Two Organists was premiered and recorded by the Zurich Symphony for Ethereal Records. Later this year, six of Aaron’s chorale preludes will be published by Augsburg/Fortress.


Edward Alan Moore, a native of Girard, OH, is currently serving as Minister of Music at National City Christian Church in Washington, DC. Previously he was Director of Music for Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church in Iowa City, Iowa, where he oversaw a music ministry of nine choral and instrumental ensembles. Before his position in Iowa, he served as Director of Music Ministries at Twelve Corners Presbyterian Church in Rochester, New York. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in Organ Performance in October 1999 from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, where he was a student of Michael Farris. Edward was the 1995-1996 Russell Saunders Organ Scholar at the Eastman School, the first recipient of this award. He has studied organ improvisation at Eastman with Gerre Hancock and Richard Erickson and was a research assistant for Professor Wm. A. Little. He worked closely with Dr. Little on his Doctoral project, in which he researched the organ works of German Composer Heinrich Reimann (1850-1906). Edward received his Master of Music degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993 as a student of Michael Farris. While in Illinois, he was organist and handbell choir director at the First Presbyterian Church in Urbana. He served as consultant for a new pipe organ built for the church by the Martin Ott Company of St. Louis, working with the builder to design the specifications for the instrument. Edward performed the dedication recital on the new instrument in 1998. For this recital, he premiered Preces for a New Instrument, a new organ composition written for and dedicated to him by then New York composer Aaron David Miller, now Associate Organist at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago. The church produced a compact disc recording of the dedication recital.

He received his Bachelor of Music degree in music and religion from Grove City College in Western Pennsylvania in 1991, where he studied with the late Robert Cornelison. Edward’s choral conducting training has been with Fred Stoltzfus and Chester Alwes at the University of Illinois and Douglas Browne at Grove City College. During the fall semester 1998 Dr. Moore was a visiting faculty member at the University of Iowa School of Music while Professor Delbert Disselhorst was on sabbatical.

Concerts presented at academic institutions include recent recital performances at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Iowa. He has also performed at the State University of New York, Buffalo, the Eastman School of Music, the University of Illinois, Grove City College and Westminster College. Solo concerts presented for churches have included recitals in Iowa City, Iowa; Rochester, New York; Greenville, Pennsylvania; Scottsville, New York; Champaign, Illinois; Urbana, Illinois; Warren, Ohio; and Youngstown, Ohio.

Dr. Moore is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the American Choral Directors Association, the Association of Disciple Musicians and the Choristers Guild.


Marvin Mills, a native of Philadelphia, PA, is Associate Minister of Music at National City Christian Church. Previously he was Director of Music/Organist at All Souls Church, Unitarian, Washington, DC. Early music studies were with violin and piano. Further studies were done at Westminster Choir College as a prizewinner in the Alexander McCurdy Organ Competition.

He is a member of the National Association of Negro Musicians, former board member of the Unitarian/ Universalist Musician’s Network, and past dean of the District of Columbia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

He has performed throughout the eastern United States in such places as the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Barns of Wolf Trap Farm Park, and historic churches in Krakow, Poland, and appeared as guest artist with the Washington Male Choral, the Concert Artists of Baltimore, the Washington Bach Consort, the Cathedral Choral Society, and the Folger Consort.

Mr. Mills has performed for numerous chapters of the American Guild of Organists and was the featured recitalist in the Guild’s 1992 and 1996 Centennial national conventions. He opened the 1989 Wendell P. Whalum Concert Series at Morehouse College, performing for the entire student body. He was presented in recital by the Washington National Cathedral in observance of Black History Month 1989 and returned to appear on its 1995 Summer Festival Series.

Mr. Mills has recorded for PBS television the Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani by Francis Poulenc and a digital recording titled Organ Music from All Souls Church. A compact disk of music by Marcel Dupré is in production. Mr. Mills can be heard as arranger and accompanist on a disc of spirituals with mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, Angels Watching Over Me.

Other accomplishments include a 1986 fellowship from the District of Columbia Commission on the Arts, and selection as featured recitalist at the Organ Historical Society 1991 and 1992 Conventions, as well as the American Guild of Organists 1992 National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. In the spring of 1992 he performed the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach in a weekly series of fourteen programs on the 96 rank Rieger organ at All Souls Church.

Mr. Mills made his West coast debut in July 1992 at the Spreckles Organ Pavilion International Organ Summer Concert Series in Balboa Park, San Diego, his New York City recital debut in July 1993 at the Riverside Church and his orchestra debut with the Jacksonville Symphony in June 1995.

J. S. Bach and the Organ – Some Neglected Threads

Lecture read at the International Organ Festival at St. Albans 2nd December 2000 By Stephen Bicknell

To use imagination in any area of serious study is a difficult business.There are no facts to be found in imaginary exercises. There may be insight of a kind, but that insight is deeply compromised by being at one stage removed from reality.

Even with this cautionary note an imaginary exercise can sometimes be useful, and I am going to start by inviting you to consider just such a speculation in the hope that it may generate some tiny fragment of concrete information.

Imagine that there was once a celebrated Thüringian organist and composer named Bach, widely respected for his ability as a performer, for his genius as a composer, and for his understanding of the art of organ building. Suppose further that Herr Bach had had the opportunity, at the height of his career, to commission a completely new organ that exactly represented his wishes as regards a really fine instrument. Imagine that negotiations with a leading organ builder led to a scheme for a substantial three manual organ of, say, about fifty stops; that a contract was signed, and that in due course the instrument was completed and delivered. Imagine that this instrument exhibited many innovative features which reflected not just the precise areas of development and interest that preoccupied musicians and craftsmen of the day, but also the specific inspirations and insights of the great man himself.

If such an instrument had existed in respect of J. S. Bach himself we would have a far greater understanding of the man and his music. In truth the historical record conspicuously lacks any such instrument. There is no identifiable Bach organ, and despite the hopes of many researchers the possible connection between J. S. Bach and the design of any particular instrument – whether the Trost organ at Altenburg or the Hildebrandt at Naumburg – is at best treacherously tenuous.

The study of Bach and the organ is very like the study of Stonehenge. At Stonehenge we have a leviathan monument of palpable importance. It has been studied extensively and with modern methods it is possible to trace with some accuracy the various stages of construction and use over a period of fifteen hundred years. Yet the archaeological record is infuriatingly slight. Apart from the stones themselves, the various filled holes suggesting previous states, and the earthworks which complete the site, there are virtually no artefacts or other evidence that might help to complete the picture. It is as though a Neolithic sanitation team had deliberately scoured the entire area removing every item which might conceivably give any clue as to the true purpose of the structure.

There is an exceptionally fine book about Stonehenge by the archaeologist Christopher Chippindale, entitled ‘Stonehenge Complete’. Far more than describing in readily accessible terms what modern archaeology has discovered about Stonehenge, a job which can be satisfactorily completed in remarkably few pages, he presents a complete modern history of the monument, describing its rediscovery in the seventeenth century and explaining without fear or favour every single one of the sometimes mad theories which have been applied to it over the last four hundred years: that it was a temple at which Druids performed human sacrifices; that it was a giant astronomical observatory; that it was a landing site for flying saucers; and so-on.

Chippindale makes several points from this study, especially that in the absence of any more coherent understanding based on fact these flights of the imagination are the very stuff of which Stonehenge history is made. They may not be true but they are worthy of study in their own right and in a very real sense they are the intellectual context of the monument. He goes on to say that each theory is in turn a reflection not of the factual history of Stonehenge – there are precious few facts to be had – but a reflection on the life and concerns of its own period and its own social context. Through studying Stonehenge we learn not about our Neolithic forebears, but about ourselves. The situation with the study of J. S. Bach and the organ is delightfully comparable. The historical record contains none of the information that we seek. The manuscripts of Bach’s organ music are virtually without rubric. Where there is an instruction for registration – such as in the Vivaldi Concerto in d minor – it serves only to tantalise. From the mouth or pen of the man himself we have nothing concerning organs, their disposition, their manufacture, their use, or their sound. From his friends, relatives and pupils we have only the most slender indications of his preferences and these are couched in terms of impenetrable ambiguity. From Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach and from Bach’s pupil Johann Friedrich Agricola, and from the early biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel, we have only a handful of oft-repeated chestnuts about Bach and the organ: that he required an ample winding system and would test a new instrument by drawing all the stops; that he could play on the pedals passages which other masters would fear to play with their fingers; that his manner of registering was original to the point of daring. From the record of surviving instruments we have none at which he presided. There are several which he played, even a few where he made a formal inspection at the time of their completion. All have suffered from the vicissitudes of time and, even where they have been conscientiously restored, the sounds that can be heard today give only a partial insight into the instrumental world that the great man inhabited.

In the relative absence of any coherent archaeological record the study of the relationship between J. S. Bach and the organ occupies exactly the same imaginary world as the study of Stonehenge, and the results of that study are witness not to Bach’s own genius but to the affairs and concerns of those who have made the various studies. Take, for example, the furious advocacy of Bach’s organ music which gripped London in the mid-nineteenth century and the effect this had on the organs of the day. An example of an organ of this period survives at St. Mary-at-Hill in the City of London.

Built by Hill in 1848, this instrument is currently undergoing restoration by N. P. Mander Ltd after serious damage by fire some years ago. It is a large two manual with up-to-date C-compass manuals and pedals replacing the familiar GG-compass of the old insular English school. A substantial sixteen-foot chorus on the Great organ is answered by an equally well developed Swell Organ, and here the Swell is constructed as an Oberwerk above the Great Organ, not behind it, and thus is balanced on terms of virtual equality with the main manual. The Pedal division is reasonably independent, and the whole scheme is superficially very similar to a large two-manual organ by Bach’s Saxon contemporary, Gottfried Silbermann. However, the tone is light years removed from the German model which Hill’s organ follows on paper. British organ building was emerging from a period of intense refinement and delicacy and Hill’s organ is above all rather soft. The only way to imagine some connection between the sounds this organ makes and the sounds of an organ Bach might have known is to shut your eyes and pretend the building is enormous and the organ two hundred feet away – only then does it begin to make sense.

The Bach organ of 1848 tells us about 1848, not about Bach. Of course the same is true for Bach organs of 1950 – if indeed there were any such in the early heat of the modern movement Organ Revival of that generation – and the same is true of Bach organs today. There is a finite limit to what we can find out from the past; in the case of Bach and the organ that limit is very quickly reached and beyond it lies only speculation.

With this in mind I prefer to see the connection often made between Bach and the organ building of late seventeenth century Hamburg – instruments by Arp Schnitger and his immediate predecessors – as being a story of twentieth century preoccupations. First and foremost it is a story of political upheaval. In the division of Germany after the Second World War the Bach homelands of Thüringia and Saxony became relatively inaccessible, their organs and organ culture obviously so. The instruments of Gottfried Silbermann retained their specific cachet, but that widely acknowledged award of distinction was a matter of survival, not of revival. The remarkable craftsmanship in Silbermann’s instruments led them to be revered not only in his own time but in following generations too. I would go as far as to say that in the nineteenth century he was the only organ builder of the past whose name was widely known in the international organ world.

When the Iron Curtain came down across Europe even Silbermann’s instruments fell for a time into shadow, and the idea of them belonging to an indigenous and varied local organ culture passed completely into oblivion. Attention was naturally diverted for a time to the other great area of importance to Bach’s understanding of the organ – Hamburg and the North. This removal of focus from central Germany to the North was also propelled by the engine of twentieth century musicology, which saw Bach not as a romantic genius (surely the Nineteenth Century assessment) but as a single piece in a scholarly jigsaw puzzle. That puzzle could most easily be completed with reference to Bach’s most prominent precursors as gifted Lutheran organ composer-performers, men such as Böhm and Buxtehude. The arrival of Bach on the musical scene was sometimes seen almost as a continuation of that school, and the new organs which emerged in the late twentieth century were a witness to the total concentration of interest on the organs of the North, but revisited by twentieth century craftsmen in new guise, with Modern Movement austerity in design and decoration, too-light mechanical actions, equal temperament, steady wind and every other kind of pseudo-technical pseudo-improvement.

The problem with the musicologist’s view is one of cart and horse, or one of telescopes and wrong ends. Study concentrating on the surviving works of great composers gives a very one-sided view of the musical culture of the past. An organ culture is not remotely dependent on good composed or written music. It may reach a pinnacle of excellence with only the most modest or basic creative musical input, as happened in Catholic South Germany in the eighteenth century, or in Spain in the eighteenth century, or in England in the eighteenth century, or even, dare I say it, in the Netherlands in the twentieth century. To view Bach’s position largely in terms of structured links with his predecessors is justified only in terms of musicological scholarship; to elevate those predecessors to the position of precursors may even be misleading; in the case of Buxtehude, as Christoph Wolff has so ably pointed out, it has almost denied Buxtehude himself of his proper status as an composer in his own right and has caused the finest section of his oeuvre – the choral music – to be sadly neglected. Who is Buxtehude to us today? All too often I am afraid he is merely the name of the composer immediately preceding Bach on the recital programme of the modern eclectic virtuoso.

That is not to say that the North was without influence upon Bach and his view of the organ. But perhaps we have been looking in the wrong places for the effect the experience had on him. In my imagination I see his experience of Lübeck and Hamburg leading naturally to an appreciation of large organs but not necessarily to an appreciation of the specific layout fashionable in that part of the world. I do not think he would necessarily have found a Rückpositve advantageous, nor a Brustwerk, nor detached pedal towers. He would not have heard the word ‘werkprinzip’ which is of twentieth century coinage, invented to explain seventeenth century organ building in terms of a Modern Movement design philosophy of ‘form follows function’.

It takes a certain leap of the imagination to understand how the spatially separated parts of a North German organ are intended to work together, and though that leap is certainly well within the intellectual grasp of a man as intelligent as Bach, so is the other side of the coin: why should an organ not be made as one single entity, homogenous and integrated, built in one case, not in several and, most important of all, leaving room on the same gallery for instrumentalists and singers? Bach played on the four manual Schnitger at the Jacobikirche in Hamburg in 1720, and of course the experience would have been fascinating. But would he not have been surprised to find the main chorus of the organ divided over two manuals, Hauptwerk and Oberwerk? Would it not have seemed odd to him that the sixteen foot manual plenum could only be obtained by coupling two manuals together, with a corresponding deterioration in the quality of the touch? And whereas an organ by Schnitger was built with a certain economy of wind distribution, so that only certain stops sounded well together and even then in combinations of only a few at a time, would not the exploring fingers and improvisatory mind of Bach the player quickly have discovered exactly where those limits lay and have been led to wonder with automatic inevitability what might lie beyond them?

Posing rhetorical questions does not necessarily mean that one should be tempted to answer them. I do not propose to take the dangerous step of filling in the gaps and telling you what I think Bach might actually have thought. To understand the true position of the North in Bach’s mind we need a gentle reminder that he would have met people there as well as organs, and that there is no reason why his concentration might not have been devoted more towards the successful creative careers of Böhm, Buxtehude and Reincken and less towards the specific details of instruments of that area, where he never held an appointment.

We need to remember that J. S. Bach was not a citizen of modern greater Germany and that Hamburg was foreign territory. Germany would not become a single entity until after 1848; until then there were separate independent states, duchies and principalities. Thüringia was one of these, as important in its way as any other, and there several generations of the Bach family made their home and devoted themselves to careers in music. The strongest line of communication was between Thüringia and Saxony, its neighbour to the east. The two states co-existed in happy cultural rivalry: Saxony boasting the great court city of Dresden and the intellectual strength of Leipzig, and Thüringia competing with rather more centres of cultural activity, but each one much smaller than the two major cities of Saxony.

Saxony and Thüringia had flourishing organ cultures of their own, as distinct as any other national or regional school at the turn of the eighteenth century. These schools depended on no single great artist, for even Gottfried Silbermann himself was a parvenu, the local lad who went away to France and returned in 1710 with some new ideas and scored a popular success. The wide spread of local activity is well revealed by the names of organ builders whose work Bach encountered during his career, men such as Wender, Scheibe, Stertzing, Trost and Trebs. That no one of these can be identified as a great star in the firmament of organ building tells us not that they were less able, but informs us intead about the social structure of the area in which they plied their trade. For example, Tobias Heinrich Gottfried Trost was indeed a major figure in the craft, but because of his position as organ builder to the Court at Altenburg and the structure of Thüringian society he was only able to undertake two major projects in his lifetime, and even then his organ at Waltershausen had to be finished by others. The position of Arp Schnitger, for example, is quite different: the model of Hamburg mercantile society allowed him to sense the possibilities of being an autonomous tradesman and manufacturer building standardised instruments, managing a workforce of collaborators, selling his work to clients rather than waiting for instructions from his Lord and Master in a nearby castle, and ultimately exporting a product to all parts of the known world. Similarly with Gottfried Silbermann in Saxony, able to score a double success by working for both Lutheran and Catholic patrons, using standardised formulae for the rapid execution and prompt delivery of a relatively large number of surprisingly self-similar organs, and allowing his popular reputation to rest on the luxurious excellence of materials and craftsmanship he had surely learnt in Paris, and on his organs being extremely loud.

To me Gottfried Silbermann is the Saxon equivalent of Father Willis. The instruments are impressive for their technical excellence and for delivering power with sophistication and refinement. Both builders were outside tradition in seeking brilliance through a certain manner of voicing rather than through the use of high pitches. Both builders incorporated a modicum of French influence in the form of powerful reeds and special solo colours. Both built organs to standard recipes with a narrow tonal palette and with little variation from one organ to the next. Both were stubborn and stuck with meantone tuning at precisely the time it had gone out of fashion. Silbermann’s organs are loud to the point of being problematic. They put all other instruments in the shade, unjustly making the work of others appear dull and even lacklustre. In the context of the accompaniment of the eighteenth century chorale and cantata based liturgy their loudness must surely be a difficulty: individual stops are sensuous enough but in combination there is a telling forcefulness which does not blend well with other performers.

You will by now detect that I am proposing that J. S. Bach was brought up in the distinctive organ culture of his native Thüringia and that his foreign travels may only have added to his family-based experience. If this is the case, then the Thüringian organ needs to be defined so that we can learn from it. I have already hinted that the social structure of Thüringia and the system of patronage applied to organ building leads not to one consistent style but to a variety of styles going on concurrently, each individual artist seeking his own solutions and his own particular answers to the needs of the day. The organs of neighbouring Saxony provide another source of alternative recipes. Thus, a visitor to central Germany around 1730 might find organs that sounded quite different from each other, in the same way that an organ by Father Willis sounds quite different from an organ by Hill or Lewis. Silbermann’s forthright voicing, his frenchified mutations and reeds, and his taste for brilliant tone would have represented one end of the spectrum. At the other end of the scale were dark, fluty toned organs, such as those made by Herbst, where the chorus has a distinct cornetty twang and a thicker, heavier character. On a separate branch line altogether is Trost, with his love of delicate intonation and edgy tone, his repeated experiments with new kinds of string stops and fancy flutes, and his plenum delivered in a spine tingling crash by means of one big multi-ranked tierce mixture.

All three builders were concerned with the trends of their time, and the very departures from common seventeenth century practice are the stuff of our enquiry. Keyboards now had more notes, the introduction of the accidentals in the bass octave firmly implying the use of new key signatures and more extensive modulation, and thus opening the way for mildly unequal or circulating temperaments replacing the old meantone system. Organs were now often housed in one single case, allowing more extensive use of the gallery area round the console and tending to homogenise and blend the sound. This new kind of organ structure – the instrument built in one lump – seems to me to mirror the difference between the major solo works of Buxtehude – many sub-sections used to throw the separate parts of the Northern organ into distinct relief – and the later major works of Bach, in which single massive movements explore a self-contained spectrum of tonality through the medium of structured schemes of modulation. At this time also new stops appeared to delight the ear: in Silbermann’s work they are reeds and mutations; in Trost’s work they are strings and flutes. Above all this period seems to be one in which there is a new found interest in grandeur or gravity of effect, reflected in Bach’s own instructions regarding the rebuilding of the organ at Mühlhausen, with its new thirty two foot bass and rebuilt pedal reed for added ‘gravität’ and the telling reference to the sixteen-foot manual Bassoon introduced for its delicacy in concerted music.

In the light of these new trends in early eighteenth century organ building I would like to draw attention to three organs which can still be heard today. The organ in the castle church at Lahm-in-Itzgrund, in Franconia neighbouring Thüringia to the west, where Johann Lorenz Bach was organist, built by Heinrich Herbst in 1732 and surviving virtually unaltered. Then, the organ in St. Peter’s Church in Freiberg, Saxony, completed in 1735 by Gottfried Silbermann, surviving in fair condition despite some nineteenth century revoicing . Finally, the Tobias Trost organ in the castle chapel at Altenburg in Thüringia, completed in 1739 and inspected and approved in fairly glowing terms by J. S. Bach in September of that year.

These three organs are of a type quite new. All are only two manual instruments, and yet all three attempt a sixteen foot chorus on the Hauptwerk and a thirty two foot stop on the pedal. This is a radical departure from normal practice, for almost all organ builders of any period, given a space sufficient for an organ of this type, would sooner offer their client or patron an instrument at the same price but with a greater number of rather smaller stops spread over three manuals and pedal. Each of these instruments occupies the amount of space in which Schnitger – or for that matter Rudolph von Beckerath – would have built a three manual organ based on an eight-foot Hauptwerk.

Here is the true impact of the new desire for ‘gravität’ – schemes where the myriad possibilities of dialogue and interplay between three manual divisions are exchanged willingly for a smaller two manual organ offering a more homogenised, but more massive, overall effect. To detect the hand of Bach in the invention of these schemes would going too far, but the coincidence of their appearance in the right place and at the right time, and two of them with distinct Bach connections, is both delightful and intriguing.

Each builder tackles the problems of such a scheme in a different way. Note, for example, how the Pedal is disposed in each. Herbst builds two separate pedal organs, one department of big basses behind the organ and a separate one devoted to chorus work disposed in the northern manner in towers on the gallery front. Trost achieves a pedal chorus by a technically adventurous method – he arranges for several ranks to be shared between the Hauptwerk and Pedal, with a complex soundboard design including non-return valves under each pipe. Silbermann, true to form, plays safe, and would doubtless have argued that the provision of pedal upperwork was catered for in his design by means of a pedal coupler that operated separate pallets in the Hauptwerk soundboard. Note also the provision of the new narrow scale registers alongside the traditional quintatons: in the Silbermann organ a single mild Viola da Gamba; in the Herbst instrument Viola da Gamba and Gemshorn; in Trost’s organ at Altenburg a whole collection of experimental tonalities, including both strings and unusual flutes on both manuals and pedal.

Which of these three organs would Bach have preferred and why? There is no answer to this question, but there is a non-answer that has a distinct appeal: that Bach might have enjoyed all three equally and have relished their differences. Among the mere handful of comments handed down to us about his organ playing is this famous passage from Forkel’s biography:“To all this was added the peculiar manner in which he combined the different stops of the organ with each other, or his mode of registration. It was so uncommon that many organ builders and organists were frightened when they saw him draw the stops. They believed that such a combination of stops could never sound well, but were much surprised when they afterwards perceived that the organ sounded best just so, and had now something peculiar and uncommon, which could never be produced by their mode of registration.”
“This peculiar manner of using the stops was a consequence of his minute knowledge of the construction of the organ and of all the single stops. He had early accustomed himself to give to each and every stop a melody suited to its qualities, and this led him to new combinations which, otherwise, would never have occurred to him.”
I think that this passage contains a most important clue. To a player whose grasp was as complete as Bach’s, able to improvise fully structured works in five and six parts with obligato pedal lines, the different quality of sounds emerging from organs by different builders would have been a never ending source of delight and pleasure. His music making would instinctively have been altered to suit. No one instrument – provided it obeyed his commands that the right notes should be played at the right time – would then be in any way preferable to another. Thus there is no ‘Bach organ’ – rather many Bach organs, or a pool of Bach organs, all of them belonging to the varied schools of central German organ building at the beginning of the ‘galant’ period. However there is one instrument which has long been regarded as the strongest candidate for a tonal scheme devised by Bach, the Hildebrandt organ in St. Wenceslas Naumburg, completed in 1746, and examined and approved by J.S. Bach and Gottfried Silbermann in September of that year.

Bach had known of Hildebrandt’s work since at least 1723, when he examined the one-manual organ by him at Störmthal. Hildebrandt was a pupil of Gottfried Silbermann. When Silbermann died in 1754, mid-way through the construction of the large three manual organ for the Hofkirche in Dresden, it was completed and voiced by Hildebrandt. Yet Hildebrandt’s style at Naumburg is noticeably divergent. Other builders were content to follow Silbermann’s footsteps more closely : in Berlin Joachim Wagner was happily building near replicas of the master’s work, if anything showing even more caution by providing fewer manual reed stops. What is the new influence that sets Hildebrandt’s work at Naumburg apart from his teacher’s instruments?

The most satisfactory answer is that the influence is Thüringian, and that is part of the argument for the connection with Bach. The string stops are the first vital clue: on the Rückpositiv there are both a Viola da Gamba 8 and a Fugara 4 – the latter being one of Trost’s inventions, and used by him in his substantial three-manual organ at Waltershausen dedicated in 1741. Also Trost-like is the provision of string basses in the Pedal, and the large multi ranked mixture on the Hauptwerk. From Silbermann come the Cornets both composé and décomposé, and the undulating Unda Maris. Common to the period, but bearing a particular connection with Bach’s own instructions regarding the rebuilding of the organ at Mühlhausen, are the Fagot 16′ on the Rückpositiv and the thirty two foot in the Pedal. Although the provision of a complete pedal chorus might be regarded as showing northern influence, one other distinctive feature is in contradiction with northern practice. Note that the flute stops are arranged in families: a choir of Spillflöten on the Hauptwerk; Gemshorn and Waldflöte, both tapered, on the Oberwerk; a pair of Rohrflöten on the Rückpositiv. This is not the northern way, where adjacent flutes on the same manual were always constructed differently and in contrast to each other.

The Naumburg organ is currently being restored to something near its original state, and the world waits with baited breath to see what further insights it may bring. This cannot quite be described as being “J. S. Bach’s Ideal Organ”, as has been claimed by Ulrich Dähnert and others, but it certainly demands our close attention.

I started this talk by inviting you to imagine that a composer named Bach had commissioned a large new organ for his personal use. I am delighted to finish by telling you that this was not in fact a flight of imagination, but an attestable fact. The Bach concerned was not Johann Sebastian, but his older cousin, the highly regarded performer and composer Johann Christoph Bach, and the organ in question was that at St. George’s in Eisenach, planned in the 1690s, built by the local builder Sterzting, and completed in 1707. As a young boy J. S. Bach would have known of the scheme; construction of the instrument started at about the time his father died and he was removed to stay with his brother at Ohrdruf. The story of this important instrument was uncovered by Claus Oefner and more work is now being done by the American musicologist Lynn Edwards. The technical details of this organ are both startling and significant: in a recent lecture Ms. Edwards showed that the organ had three manuals and fifty three stops, full chromatic compasses with fifty three notes in the manuals and twenty nine in the pedals, a separate wind supply to each department of the organ, a case concave in plan with no Rückpositiv so as to leave ample room on the gallery for other performers, and that the completed organ was visited and sketched by none other than Gottfried Silbermann’s nephew Johann Andreas.

As you can see, the true story of the Thüringian organ is unfolding only gradually. As it does so, we become painfully aware of just how short the neo-classical organs of the late twentieth century fell in their attempts to emulate the sounds that Bach knew, and how much they reflect instead the tastes and concerns of the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century it is too much to hope that we will actually recover some of the understanding that Bach brought to the instrument – the archaeological evidence simply is not adequate to the task. However, I am sure we all welcome the opening of a new chapter, bringing with it fresh insights and new discoveries touching on the intellectual world of the great man.

© Stephen Bicknell

Some further links:
1. A recording of music on the Herbst organ in Lahm-in-Itzgrund
2. Disposition of the Silbermann organ in St. Peter’s Church, Freiberg
3. Recording made at the Trost organ in Altenburg castle, from OHS website
4. Site dedicated to the Trost Organ in Waltershausen , Thüringia
5. International Pipe Organ Discography

Walter Hilse plays Bach’s The Art of Fugue at St Peter’s Lutheran Church, NYC

Review of Dr Walter Hilse’s performance of Bach’s The Art of Fugue, played on 9/24/2000 at St Peter’s Lutheran Church, NYC

Today at 4 o’clock, at St Peter’s Lutheran Church in NYC, Walter Hilse gave a splendid performance of the Art of Fugue. The Klais organ sang, whispered, and trumpeted under Dr Hilse’s imaginative registration. Each fugue and canon possessed its own distinctive character, and like pieces of a puzzle they fit together perfectly. Dr Hilse interspersed the fugues with the canons, to “welcome contrast”, as he wrote in the program notes. The program was as follows:

Fugue Ihilse
Fugue II
Fugue III
Fugue IV
Canon II at the Octave
Canon IV at the Twelfth
Fugue VI
Canon I in Augmentation and Contrary Motion
Fugue VII
Fugue VIII
Fugue IX
Fugue X
Canon III at the Tenth
Fugue XI
Mirror Fugue in 4 Voices (Normal, then inverted)
Mirror Fugue in 3 Voices (Normal then inverted)
Fugue XII (Unfinished)
Chorale Prelude Vor deinen Thron


The intensity of the performance grew as time went on. The canons were a pleasant variation to the complexity of the fugues. They also provided the opportunity to exploit the organ’s color to the fullest. The canon in Augmentation and Contrary Motion was, I think, a bit too fast and aggressive. I hear it as having a more composed, meditative character. In the context of the rest of the performance, though, Dr Hilse’s interpretation of the canon was a logical interlude between fugues VI and VII and made perfect sense that way.

The fugues nrs. X and XI were particularly spellbinding. Dr Hilse unleashed the sheer power of those pieces and brought it thundering down into the sanctuary. It was simply thrilling, this windstorm of sound and logic, bound by deeply felt emotion.

As the last, unfinished, fugue started, I was filled with apprehension, waiting for the moment when the B-A-C-H would sound. I’d like to think that I wasn’t the only one in the audience who wondered—just what sound will Dr Hilse choose to represent Bach’s name? It was a flute-like 8′. How fitting. After the last notes of the fugue hung in the air, clean and pure, it was also the sound that started the sublimely beautiful chorale, Vor deinen Thron.

st_peter_extThe minimalist modern architecture of St Peter’s was a perfect background for the highly spiritual music of Bach. Having never visited St Peter before, I was struck with it’s architect’s flight of imagination. I certainly have never seen a church where the sanctuary was below ground level, with ceiling windows facing the street. Several people were glued to the glass during the performance, and that created a feeling that the organ was speaking not only to us, sitting below, but also to the people outside, and to the sky, and to the entire city.

While much bitter discussion is being centered on organists playing recitals for organists, Walter Hilse has performed Bach for the people. I believe musicians and non-musicians alike went home with a memory of something special today.

Saint Peter’s Lutheran Church is located at
619 Lexington Avenue at 54 St
New York, NY 10022
(212) 935-2200 

©2000 Lana Krakovskiy

Andrew Nethsingha plays at St George’s Cathedral, Kingston, Ontario, Canada

We were delighted to have Andrew Nethsingha, the Organist and Master of the Choristers at Truro Cathedral, UK, here in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, to give a recital at St. George’s Cathedral, on Tuesday 10th October 2000.

The programme was as follows:

Grand Choeur in D minor
Folk Tune
J. S. Bach
Trio super “Herr Jesus Christ
Fantasia and Fugue in C minor Hollins
Allegretto Grazioso
Adagio and March from the “Occasional Oratorio”


Chorale-Improvisation “Nun danket alle Gott”
Samuel Wesley
Air and Gavotte
Howells     Psalm Prelude (Set 1, No 1)
“Lo, the poor crieth and the Lord heareth him, yea, and saveth him out of all his troubles.” (Psalm 34.6)
March on a Theme of Handel

Andrew Nethsinga introduced the pieces at the beginning of each half, and then went on to play them as though he had played the organ at St. George’s Cathedral all his life! In fact, he was here some years ago when he gave a recital, which was as enjoyable as the one we heard this week.

The organ has never sounded better!

Mr. Nethsingha also conducted the Diocesan Choral Festival Service, Sunday October 15, 2000, at 4.00 pm.

©2000 Bob Conway

Jürgen Rodeland plays at St. Aureus Church in Büdesheim, Germany

Music from Three Centuries

“Unspectacular” organ recital delighted the audience in the church

November 11th, 2000
by Werner Brandt, Mainz Allgemeine Zeitung
translated by John H. Nisbet

juergenBINGEN – It’s almost unbelievable: In spite of little advertising, even “unspectacular” organ concerts find their audience. Indeed, the listeners in the well-attended Catholic Church in Büdesheim were more than rewarded.

Jürgen Rodeland arranged an interesting program, spanning the period from 1637 to 1992, accentuating the versatile sound of the Oberlinger organ, and fulfilling all expectations, both technically and artistically.

Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy’s 6th Organ Sonata began with chorale variations, which ornamented the melody, or treated it with toccata-like, brilliant scales, and arpeggios. The chorale theme was also hidden in the Fugue, but accentuated clearly, and the final movement exuded composure, and sensitivity, thanks to the soft registration of the performer.

In the Passacaglia D minor of Dietrich Buxtehude, Jürgen Rodeland spread out the variety of registration possibilities: the continuing bass theme was clothed attractively by very versatile, bell-like stops, silvery mixtures, and organo pleno. Only the conclusion turned out somewhat too modestly.

With Johann Sebastian Bach’s renowned Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, the artist could prove his enormous virtuosity. He played particularly the “Kaffeewasser” Fugue in a conception like an unbroken thread, held the tempo excellently, articulated very sophisticatedly, and registered transparently, so that the theme always remained clearly audible. He refrained from a grandiose ending.

Olivier Messiaen’s “Apparition de l’Eglise éternelle” began like clusters, using the swell box extensively, and contained sound expanses and rows of chords that could be suggestive of church windows flooded through by sunrays, but the composition revealed little structure, and too much emotion.

Max Reger’s Fantasia on “Ein feste Burg” turned out to be a masterpiece of the performer. If it would have been possible to sing the Chorale before, the appreciation of this piece would have been even greater. However, the information printed in the program, the very clear registrations, the well- played portato choral melody, the large contrasts of dynamics, the mastery of the difficult pedal part, and the great climax to the end: by all of these, a breathtaking interpretation was accomplished by being clear-cut, with a transparent sound despite the complicated chromatic harmony.

The enthusiastic audience demanded by much applause a well-known, exceptionally charming encore: Vierne’s “Carillon de Westminster” honored the listeners with a bell-like, playful sound.

©2000 Werner Brandt, reprinted in translation with author’s permission
For original article: click here

Fred Swann plays last Advent concert at the church before retiring, First Congregational Church, LA

Los Angeles, CA, December 3, 2000
This past Sunday, I had the great pleasure of attending Fred Swann’s annual Christmas concert at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. This would be his last regular Christmas concert at the church inasmuch as he has announced his retirement from the church organ bench after 60 years of service as a church organist, to be effective in May 2001.

(Incidentally, the program notes indicated that Dr. Somerville, Minister of Music, will also be retiring at that time, along with soprano Kathie Freeman.)

Although Dr. Swann has only been at First Congregational about three years, he obviously is already greatly loved and admired, as evidenced by the near-capacity audience who turned out for his concert: Most of the folks in attendance looked more like “church folk” than “organ folk,” so this clearly was a great display of support and respect for him. The announcement of his retirement, although already generally known, was met with many sighs of sadness and shaking of heads, even a few daubing at teary eyes with hankies. (A nice church-like couple sitting in front of me were very unabashed FRED FANS, and showed their adoration for him throughout the concert.)

The program began with a prelude by the Master Ringers, a very fine handbell choir from Lake Avenue Congregational Church in Pasadena. (Despite a printed request in the program to “please listen in silence,” not everyone was doing so. Most notably certain inattentive ushers who were escorting people to their seats with audibly barked seating indications. To their credit, the handbelliers’ attention and focus were not diverted despite the insensitive distractions.)

Dr. Swann then laid out an excellent, varied program including some “new fare” along with just enough “old chestnuts” to keep the purple-haired little old ladies (of both genders) content.

Of course, every piece was excellently played. And the seemingly limitless diversity of the Great Organs of the church was marvelously and ingeniously displayed.

We heard quaint touches of “klein-tinkelen und Farten-regalen” in Buxtehude’s choral fantasia on “Wie schön der Morgenstern.” (I heard a teenage kid behind me ask his mom if that was “a song about Rhoda Morgenstern!”)

The organ’s many ranks of lovely, lovely strings were slushed out in full force for Stanley Roper’s arrangement of the original orchestral version of Vaughan Williams’ “Greensleeves.” Absolutely blissful sounds here, layer upon layer of Shimmering Strings and Velvety Voxes. (Who was it who quipped, “More souls are saved with Chimes and Vox Humanas than any other stops in the organ!”)

The full force of the organ was called upon several times to thrilling, thunderous climaxes: Dr. Swann brilliantly played Simon Preston’s hair-raising “Alleluyas” and the captivatingly joyous “Grand Fantasia on ‘Joy to the World'” by Marc Cheban, a young organist from Philadelphia.

There were also the expected rooty-toots on the heart-stopping Holzgraf Memorial Trumpet, but it did appear to me that these trumpets have been reined in a bit as they did not seem as overbearing (indeed, nearly unbearable!) as they originally were.

Dr. Swann concluded the concert with Henri Büsser’s “The Sleep of the Infant Jesus.” My, my, my, my, MY. How can I begin to relate the sweet beauty of this work! Dr. Swann told about how during his tenure at Riverside Church, this piece always took a special and cherished place at the end of each annual Christmas Eve Candlelight service. He then gently requested that there be no applause at the end, “and you will see why.”

At the conclusion of the sublime work, a beautiful soprano voice eerily floated out into the nave seemingly out of nowhere–at once softly emanating from every pore of that sanctuary— singing, a cappela, “Silent Night.”

As the voice grew in intensity, we realized it was coming from a resonant hallway or stairwell behind the altar. The ethereal voice continued to grow in strength as the soprano, Kathie Freeman, slowly made her way out into the sanctuary. What a sweet, tender, peaceful moment. This brilliantly thoughtful treatment perfectly rendered the aural fragrance of the lovely, simple carol. Time seemed to stand still, and we very much felt the gentle presence of Our Creator there with us.

Finally Dr. Swann led us in rousing congregational singing of favorite Christmas carols, led by Kathie Freeman; although she had some stiff competition against the hundreds of ranks of organ and the sanctuary filled with concertgoers!

The concert was then over and done with, seemingly far too soon; and we reluctantly filed out of the gorgeous sanctuary to go back to our “regular lives.” However, even two days after the concert I am still blessed with a quiet peacefulness that has brought into my heart the true spirit of Christmas.

Afterward, Dr. Swann’s many admirers lined up in the cheerfully elegant, tastefully appointed fellowship hall (incongruously christened “The Barnum Room”) below the sanctuary to express their greetings, well wishes, and accolades for the concert, which easily was the best and most enjoyable in recent memory.

– – – – – – –

Here is the complete program:

3:45 Gathering Music
The Master Ringers, Handbell Choir
Lake Avenue Congregational Church
Pasadena – Jeremy Langill, director

4:00 Welcome
Thomas Hunter Russell, Assistant Organist,
Organ Concert Series Chair

Two Settings of the Advent Hymn “Veni, Veni Emmanuel”
Toccata – Andrew Carter
Meditation – Sir Edward C. Bairstow

Choral Fantasia – “Wie schön der [Rhoda] Morgenstern” – D.Buxtehude

Christmas, Op. 80 – Arthur Foote

Two Carol Variations – Max Drischner
“Lo, How a Rose ‘ere Blooming”
“In dulci jubilo”

Alleluyas – Simon Preston

Pastorale on “Forest Green” – Dale Wood
(Harp, Handbells, Organ)
(Jo Ann Turovsky, harp)

Grand Fantasia on “Joy to the World” – Marc Cheban

I n t e r m i s s i o n

Two Spanish Carols for Organ – Norberto Guinaldo
“¿Què li darem a n’el Noi de la mare?”
“El desembre congelat”

Greensleeves – R. Vaughan Williams

Variations on a French Carol – “Il est né le divin enfant” – Henri Büsser

The Sleep of the Infant Jesus – Henri Büsser
(Violin, Harp, Organ)
(Jo Ann Turovsky, harp)
(Steve Scharf, violin)

Silent Night – Kathie Freeman, soprano

Congregational Carol Singing, led by Dr. Swann and Kathie Freeman

Reception in the Barnum Room

©2000 Charlie Lester