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Organ music

Organ music
April 17, 2011, 11:54:23 AM
What do you think of organ music? initially I felt it evokes a more finite corridor of emotions than music composed for orchestra, but this can be advantageous as the composition then concentrates more on structure in an atonal space, and so instead of creating a bigger picture it reveals the inner detail. I also thought there is some parallel to the primordial drone sound of certain non-western traditional music/s.

Re: Organ music
April 17, 2011, 02:34:35 PM
You're spot-on with your evaluation. The "more finite corridor emotions" remark is missing the fact that Bruckner was a composer of symphonies but firstly an organist, (after you realize this, his symphonies sound like little more than organ music transposed for orchestra), and that other romantic composers like Brahms held the organ in very high esteem. By my ear, the acoustic and dynamic restrictions of this keyboard instrument does little to adversely effect the content of either of those composers. If anything, it allowed them to work in more tried-and-true western forms, rather than accept or combat all of the theoretical garbage that surfaced in the 19th century after the symphony was revolutionized by Beethoven.

Re: Organ music
April 19, 2011, 05:17:57 PM
Any recommendations for classical music played solely on either organ or piano?

Re: Organ music
April 20, 2011, 02:22:00 AM
Any recommendations for classical music played solely on either organ or piano?
César Franck, he didn't compose this many works for the instrument so I would probably recommend trying to get all of it. If you're only familiar with the pre-romantic composers when it comes to organ compositions, you'll be struck by how individual, and grand his compositions, almost as if it was performed on an entirely different instrument. Otherwise, you obviously can't avoid Bach when it comes to the organ, my favorite work of his there would probably be the passacaglia and fugue in C minor BWV 582 but he's also composed many other great prelude and fugue in his life. Remember to avoid the super famous but also notedly inferior BWV 565 (it wasn't even composed by him as far as we know, and it sure doesn't sound like Bach to me).

Mozart too, he didn't compose a whole lot for the instrument but at his best he's at the top of things: especially recommended would be the KV 594 adagio and allegro for mechanical organ. Other than those, I haven't heard much though. If you want to explore the instrument further, you probably can't go really wrong with the predecessors of Bach, whether Pachelbel or Buxtehude. For more contemporary compositions, Messiaen is probably the best known organ composer of the 20th century. Other composers you might want to look into include Charles-Marie Widor, Paul Hindemith or Max Reger.

for solo piano music now, oh man. if you really want recommendations there, you'd be better making a new thread because the répertoire is just humongous.

Re: Organ music
April 21, 2011, 12:30:10 PM
Organ music seems to be composed/performed with a very particular dynamic and it certainly gives a different feeling to other classical music, more of a solemn or reverent emotion (not meant in a religious sense). It's also one of the oldest and least altered forms of composition, so it carries with it the power of a tradition from a distant time.

I'm mainly familiar with Bach and a few other composers on a compilation of early German organ music, I definitely have to delve further into the works of Buxtehude. I don't know a thing about the more modern composers but I'll be looking into Franck and anything Bruckner has written for the instrument.


Re: Organ music
April 21, 2011, 12:35:58 PM
Organ music seems to be composed/performed with a very particular dynamic and it certainly gives a different feeling to other classical music, more of a solemn or reverent emotion (not meant in a religious sense). It's also one of the oldest and least altered forms of composition, so it carries with it the power of a tradition from a distant time.

I'm mainly familiar with Bach and a few other composers on a compilation of early German organ music, I definitely have to delve further into the works of Buxtehude. I don't know a thing about the more modern composers but I'll be looking into Franck and anything Bruckner has written for the instrument.


It's a darn shame, but Bruckner hasn't written any major work for the instrument. Wish we could have access to some of his improvisations though, apparently he was phenomenal at that.

Re: Organ music
April 23, 2011, 11:19:06 AM
I know its not to most people's tastes here, but I saw Charlemagne Palestine perform a six-hour organ piece in a church in London a few years back. It was very powerful and very disorientating, I started having audio hallucinations after a while.

Anyway, at the end he took a few moments to speak to the audience and make some interesting points. Firstly, he wanted to point out that the sound he had generated was as vast and as loud, if not more so, than any other performance we had ever heard or were ever likely to hear and that this had all been achieved without a single bit of electricity. Secondly, he reminded us that a great many churches have these instruments, at least one in every city, yet they are generally inaccessible to performers and music lovers a-like. Ever since then I've been itching to hear another church organ performance. I know I could probably head down to the cathedral this easter sunday and catch a bit but the emphasis wouldn't be on the organ, it would all be on this jesus fella and that.

Re: Organ music
April 23, 2011, 02:54:41 PM
This was recommended elsewhere some time ago, but for the Bach / organ neophyte, there is no better set of CDs to have: a classic interpretation of (near) Bach's Complete Organ Works... for $20.

Many who "listen to classical music" do not have the patience required for a lot of stuff before Bach (or even Beethoven, for that matter), but there are many fantastic recordings of early and middle Baroque on restored period organs. I find it particularly fascinating to hear the evolution of instrumental music up to the genesis of diatonic harmony. The most recommendable example of this "modal" Baroque keyboard music is Johann Jakob Froberger... though his music is known more for performances on harpsichord than organ.

Re: Organ music
April 25, 2011, 05:34:22 AM
It's a darn shame, but Bruckner hasn't written any major work for the instrument. Wish we could have access to some of his improvisations though, apparently he was phenomenal at that.

What about WAB126-131? Are they worth checking out?

This was recommended elsewhere some time ago, but for the Bach / organ neophyte, there is no better set of CDs to have: a classic interpretation of (near) Bach's Complete Organ Works... for $20.

Thanks, I actually ordered it. Any recommendations of renowned organists, do they differ as dramatically as conductors?

Re: Organ music
April 25, 2011, 04:38:52 PM
It's a darn shame, but Bruckner hasn't written any major work for the instrument. Wish we could have access to some of his improvisations though, apparently he was phenomenal at that.

What about WAB126-131? Are they worth checking out?
With my assessment I was mostly deferring to the judgement of concert organists who seem to think rather lowly of the very few pieces that he published. There's very few recordings of them and they're not very often performed at all. They were mostly composed in his early life too, and as such they're most likely nowhere nearly as inspired as his later symphonies. If you really want to sample it though, there's a few recordings up on youtube. I mean, it's 'ok', but compared to this? it just doesn't hold its ground.

Re: Organ music
April 26, 2011, 08:06:21 AM

Re: Organ music
May 12, 2011, 03:09:54 AM
I just recalled one of the most exceptional organ pieces of the Romantic repertoire. Behold:

Julius Reubke (1834 - 1858) - Sonata on the 94th Psalm