Archive for the ‘Music’ Category


Organ page and update

   Posted by: John

I have created a new page specifically for the organ project.  You can go here to see it, or you can click on “organ” at the top of the page.


Different Style

   Posted by: John

I have not posted any pipe organ stuff for a while.  Theater organ is not my favorite style, but this guy does it awesome!  Of course, these are virtual Wurlitzers, along with a virtual grand piano. 



This Is Awesome!

   Posted by: John

I am not a huge Queen fan, but like so many other groups, there are a couple of songs they did that I like.  Bohemian Rhapsody is one of them.  Yes, there are plenty of renditions of it.  And most of them suck.

This one does not. A one man band, this guy hits it out of the park. He does the vocals, keyboards bass, guitars, drums.  And he has awesome video editing skills too! Listen, watch, and enjoy.


Friday Pipe Organ (20 Jan 2012)

   Posted by: John

Liturgical and sacred music has been around as long as people have worshipped God.  Some is simple and light, some dramatic, some is thought inspiring.  And much of it is not in English.

The well known romantic French composers of the 19th and 20th centuries were largely Catholic.  They were titular organists of the large churches and cathedrals and enjoyed some measure of prestige because of those posts.  Many were prolific composers, not limited to organ and choral music, but also writing symphonies for orchestra, concertos for small ensembles, and sometimes opera. 

Cesar Franck was one such composer and musician.  He had not written much music before 1859 when he became titular organist at the Basilica of Saint Clotilde, Paris.  Aristide Cavaille-Coll had just installed a new organ, and Franck fell in love with it.  He started writing music for organ and choir, music that is still part of organ reportoire and considered the most important French contribution to organ music for a century at that time. 

This piece is a motet called “Justus ut palma”, sung by baritone Jacques Bona, with Diego Innocenzi at the 1880 Cavaille-Coll organ in the Church of Saint Francios-de-Sales, Lyon, France.  Yes, there is a choir as well!  Throughout the video, there are some amazing pictures of the interior of the church.  Enjoy!


Friday Pipe Organ (13 Jan 2012)

   Posted by: John

People ask “Why do you need all those keyboards on an organ?” 

Well, the answer is, because there are all kinds of different instruments in an orchesta.  A pipe organ is intended to be an orchestra, only played by one or two people.  The symphonic organs of the Romantic era were designed to be orchestral in nature.  Aristide Cavaille-Coll broke some long standing traditions when he started building in the 1840’s.  He created, adjusted and invented several instrument stops, such as the basoon, oboe, english horn, and harmonic flute.  He introduced divided wind chests that allowed higher wind pressures.  Reed stops could be enabled or disabled by pedals.  These innovations, among many others, set his instruments apart from others and helped define the Romantic Symphonic organ.  By the time he built the organ in the Church of St. Sulpice, Paris in 1862, his style was well known and sought after. 

The symphonic organ was not just a development of the builder.  Organ design and specifications were also being driven by the music being written.  For example, Cesar Franck, a well known and prolific French composer and organist, was friends with Arisitide Cavaille-Coll and the two men collaborated in regards to organ design. 

As in an orchestra, different instruments and sounds coming at various times add color, variety and richness to the music.  Having several keyboards with different sounds allows the organist to give the music those characteristics.  Keep in mind that in the 1800’s, there were virtually no presets, no combination actions, and no electronics to assist the organist.  As many of these organs are still in existance and use (and in some cases, still original), they are played today just as they were when built.  Human assistants will change stops and engage couplers (as well as turn pages) for the organist, simply because it is impossible for him to do so while playing.  Even then, rapid registration changes are difficult if not impossible to accomplish.

With all of this in mind, this video is Pierre Pincemaille playing the Scherzo from Louis Vierne’s 2nd symphony for organ, finished in 1903.  The organ is made by Johannus, a digital instrument that is designed to sound like a Cavaille-Coll instrument.  Pierre makes use of all 4 keyboards to present the different sounds this piece requires.  It is easy to picture the sound just as Vierne would have written and played it on the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris organ, without the use of the electronic assists.


Friday Pipe Organ (6 Jan 2011)

   Posted by: John

I haven’t done Friday Pipe Organ for a long time, even though I have thought about it any number of times.  I will try to be better at it.

This week I am featuring a piece by Charles-Marie Widor, a prolific French Romantic era composer who was also titular orgainst at St. Sulpice, Paris from 1870 to 1933.  Much of the organ music written during this period was very difficult and this piece is no exception.  It is the 3rd movement from Widor’s 7th symphony for organ, written in 1890.  As this piece is in the public domain, I am also going to attach a pdf of the sheet music.  If you are able to follow along, you get a very good idea of how difficult it is.  The meter is typically 3/8 and 6/8, however the key moves between 3 and 6 sharps several times.  The Recit manual is set up with a reed instrument (Trompette), the Positiv and Grand manuals are more flutes and foundations, while the pedal is flute coupled to the Recit reed. 

If you follow the sheet music (Widor – 7th Organ Symphony – Andante), you can see the melody played largely on the Recit manual, the reed sound.  However, a countermelody is played on the Grand manual, along with a common countermelody in the pedals.  Additionally, at times each hand is playing a melody while similtaneously holding other notes against it.  As I said, difficult.

The organist in this clip is Ben Van Oosten and he is playing the magnificent 1890 Cavaille-Coll organ in the Church of St Ouen in Rouen, France. 

Crystal sung a solo at the Rocky Mountain Choir concert last evening.  This is Ben Steinberg’s Sim Shalom, sung in Hebrew.  That’s right, no mic, and she still is not going all out.


Happy Halloween!

   Posted by: John

And now, the grand-daddy of the Halloween organ music!  This is the famous Toccata and Fugue in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach.  This performance is by Dr. Sean Jackson on the organ at St John’s Episcopal Church in Stamford Connecticut.


Pre-Halloween Music 13 – Tu es Petrus

   Posted by: John

Henri Mulet wrote the piece “Tu es Petrus” about the apostle Peter of whom Christ referred to as the Rock.  Yes, a very religious reference, however there is no doubt that this piece is very Halloweenish. 

Stephen Tharp plays the organ of St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York.  This organ features some incredibly fiery pedal reeds in the second half of this piece.

No Halloween music set would be complete without Leon’s Boellmann’s toccata from his Suite Gothique.  Boellmann was a student of Eugene Gigout and was principal organist at the Church of Saint Vincent-de-Paul, Paris.  He was a prolific composer, but the Suite Gothique, written in 1895, is his most well known work.

In this video, Phillipe Delacour, principal organist at Notre Dame de Metz, France, plays the 1912 Stahlhuth organ at Saint Martin’s Church, Dudelange, Luxembourg. 


Pre-Halloween Music 7 – Sabre Dance

   Posted by: John

Aram Khatchaturian was a Russian composer, born in Tiflis, Georia.  He studied at the Moscow Conservatory under many of the leading music instructors of the time.  He was a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, but fell from the party’s favor along with other famous Russian composers, namely Shostakovich and Prokofiev, for being formalist and un-popular.  It took some years before he regained the party’s favor and eventually received many awards for his works.

Khatachaturian’s works were often influenced by Armenian folk music.  He wrote the ballet “Gayane” in 1942.  The Sabre Dance is a movement of the final act where the dancers display their skill with sabres. 

Originally scored for orchestra, Eric Plutz plays this version for organ on Princeton University’s Aeolian-Skinner organ. 


Pre-Halloween Music 6 – Prelude and Fugue

   Posted by: John

Marcel Dupre was a student of Charles-Marie Widor, who was principal organist at St. Sulpice from 1870 to 1933, and succeeded Widor in that post from 1934 to 1971.  Dupre was a child prodigy and entered the Paris Conservatoire in 1904 where he studied with some of the great French musicians of the day.  During his career, he was a prolific composer, writing many pieces of incredible technical difficulty.

In 1912, Dupre wrote the Prelude and Fugue in G minor (opus 7) at the request of Widor, his teacher.  Upon presenting it, Widor declared it unplayable and it was not published until 1920.  The piece starts off with a haunting prelude at breakneck pace.  The hands play fast obligatto, while the feet take the melody.  Notice at times how each foot is playing more than one note at a time.  The fugue immediately follows and, at the same high speed pace, is played by hands and feet.

A good number of organists have learned to play the piece…and many more have not.  Phillippe Delacour (principal organist at Notre Dame, Metz)  is one who has learned it, and plays it at Dupre’s indicated speed on the Haerpfer organ of Chateau-Salins, France.  Notice during the fugue how his feet just dance over the pedals.