Tag Archives: organ

500 years of organ music

On Saturday, 2nd of September, I had the pleasure of playing an organ recital in Griedel (a village about 50 kilometres north of Frankfurt/Main).
This year, we’re celebrating 500 years of Martin Luther putting up his theses and the start of the reformation.

When I first talked about the idea of having an organ concert in the reformation year with our pastor, I thought that all three organ players in the parish could come together and each would play 20 minutes or so. Well, it seems I wasn’t clear enough on this, because one evening my husband came home from a meeting of the church committee and said that everyone was looking forward to “my organ recital”. Apparently the pastor had told them I would play the full concert.

What to do? I decided to take the listeners on a journey through time, starting with organ music from Luther’s time and moving on to modern music. I knew that I had to be careful what kind of modern music I could present to the audience as most people here are not really used to new sounds, but at the same time I wanted to give them some food for thought.

Here’s the full list of pieces I played:

Hans (Johann) Buchner (1483 – 1538)
Christ ist erstanden (Christ is risen)

Caterina Assandra (1590 – 1618)
Ego flos campi

Dietrich Buxtehude (1637 – 1707)
Nun bitten wir den heiligen Geist (BuxWV 208)

Johann Pachelbel (1653 – 1706)
Fugue in d minor (P. 154; T. 276)

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
Prelude and fugue g minor (BWV 558)
„Ich ruf zu dir“ from the „Orgelbüchlein“ (BWV 639)
Prelude and fugue G major (BWV 557)

Georg Andreas Sorge (1703 – 1778)
Trio C major

Justin Heinrich Knecht (1752 – 1817)
Freue dich sehr o meine Seele (Rejoice my soul)

Fanny Hensel (1805 – 1847)
Chorale (op. 3/1)

Felix Mendelssohn (1809 – 1847)
Andante D major (MWV W 6)

Emma Louise Ashford (1850 – 1930?)
Evening Hymn

Edward Elgar (1857 – 1934)
Vesper Voluntaries op. 14
Introduction – Andante – Allegro – Andantino – Allegretto piacevole – Intermezzo – Poco lento – Moderato – Allegretto Pensoso – Poco allegro – Coda

Kate Boundy (1866 – 1913)
Even Song

Carlotta Ferrari (* 1975)
La Salita al Mirteto

Lothar Graap (* 1933)
Der Mond ist aufgegangen (The moon has risen), variations for organ (GWV 320)
I. Verhalten (cautious) – II. Straff (taughtly) – III. Ruhig (quiet) – IV. Langsam (slow) – V. Freudig (joyful) – VI. Mäßig bewegt (moderately moved) – VII. Langsam (slow) – VIII. Bewegt (moved) – IX. Sehr ruhig (very quiet)

There were about 35 or even 40 people in the audience and after a long round of friendly and partly enthusiastic applause, I played “Caprice” from “Cinq pièces pour orgue” by Adolphe Marty.

Next year, my “main” organ will have its 160th birthday, so there will be another recital coming up. I’ve already made plans what to play. But first, back to “standard organist life” with Sunday services and all the rest.

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November music

November was a busy month for the musician in me.
I played the organ for Sunday service, I had the pleasure to conduct our choir for another Sunday service because our MD had to be elsewhere, and last weekend there was “the” concert: two choirs, a brass quintet, an organ solo, and additional solo and duet singing. Plus I accompanied another choir during their Sunday service yesterday.

Overall, everything went okay. Of course, there are things that could’ve gone better. I’m not happy at all with my solo performance at the organ, I managed to muddle through and save the piece by improvising wildly while having some kind of brain shutdown and technical problems with the instrument, and I suppose it wasn’t as bad as it felt, but while it happened, I just wanted to be somewhere else and never perform again. I haven’t listened to the recording yet and my inner perfectionist is still sulking.
The good thing was that the organ I had available yesterday was a very decent instrument and made up for everything else and I’m almost back to feeling confident about performing 🙂

The two duets I sang together with another soprano worked really, really well and were a lot of fun. We’ve been asked to sing together again at a concert in March next year, so I’m now looking for suitable pieces.

Also, I’ve learned a lot for future organ recitals – for example that my preparation should include a plan B for technical difficulties with the instrument and that my improvisation skills are good enough to survive even some kind of blackout in my head.

December won’t be as busy, a few Sunday services, a solo for the choir’s advent/pre-Christmas event, and hopefully some practice time before the year ends.

And did I already mention the 2nd of September 2017? This is when I will play my organ recital and it has now been officially announced in the “Luther year calendar”.

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Organ music by female composers – part 2

When I wrote the blog post on organ music by female composers in December, I knew I would have to do an update one day. This day is today. It would have been perfect if I had managed to write this post on time for international womens day, but, hey, we can’t have everything, and perfectionism is often not helpful anyway. At least in my case 😉

So, the music. In my first blog post I mentioned several composers and publishers (if you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here: https://andijah.wordpress.com/2015/12/11/organ-music-by-female-composers/ ) and I would like to add some more today.

One publisher worth checking out is Vivace Press: http://www.vivacepress.com/
For example, they have done an album called “Organ Music by Women Composers before 1800”.
I don’t own this yet, but I own the “Women Composers’ Album”, pieces selected and edited by Charles Callahan. It’s a lovely collection of not too difficult pieces for organ, both manuals only and with pedals. The publisher is Morning Star Music.

On imslp.org I came across the works of Carlotta Ferrari (born 1975). This is her website: http://carlottaferrari.altervista.org/
I had already mentioned that imslp lists more than 300 names in their section of women composers, but so far, I haven’t got round to checking who has done organ music.

Today I’ve made an alphabetical list (sorted by first name) of female composers who have written for organ. Maybe some day I shall find the time to sort this list by historical period or difficulty, but let’s start with the simple list. I haven’t mentioned the composers again whom I had mentioned in my other blog post, and any addition from my readers is most welcome!

Adaline Shepherd
Anne Sheppard Mounsey Bartholomew
Barbara Dennerlein
Barbara Harbach (also editor of “Toccatas And Fugues On Hymns By European Women”)
Beate Leibe
Brita Falch Leutert
Caroline Charrière
Christiane Michel-Ostertun
Christina Harmon
Emily Porter
Emma Lou Diemer
Heather Hammond
Johanna Senfter
Liselotte Kunkel
Maddalena Lombardini Sirmen
Marga Richter
Maria Scharwieß
Marianne Kim
Mary Jeanne van Appledorn
Mel Bonis
Odile Pierre
Rolande Falcinelli
Rosalie Bonighton
Ruth Norman
Sarah Watts
Sharon J. Willis
Ute Springer

A good source in Germany to buy music by these composers is bodensee-musikversand.de, but any music store should be able to order the sheet music for you.

Last Sunday, I played “Andante patetico” by Kate Boundy as introduction to the service, and it has been well received.

Please get in touch if you have further suggestions and/or links.

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Musikalisches im Februar – February Music

Dieses Jahr ist der Februar ja mal wieder einen Tag länger. Da muss ich doch glatt auch bloggen, denn einen 29.2. als Veröffentlichungsdatum hat man nicht so oft.
Musikalisch war der Monat sehr intensiv. Ich hatte einen Orgeldienst, einen Kantorendienst (ein Gottesdienst ohne Orgelmusik, das war vom Orgateam so gewünscht, dafür aber mit Gemeindegesang, von mir angeleitet), und vorgestern dann das große Ereignis, auf das zwei Chöre hingearbeitet hatten: die Aufführung der Petite Messe Solenelle von Rossini in der Dankeskirche in Bad Nauheim. Und weil das alles noch nicht genug war, habe ich gestern noch auf einer Matinee Akkordeon gespielt.

Es war anstrengend, neben dem Vollzeitjob der Musik gerecht zu werden, aber es hat sich gelohnt. Viele unserer Chorsänger haben sich für meine Stimmbildungssessions bedankt und einige wollen nun sogar Einzelstunden haben, und das Publikum der Matinee hat bei fast jedem Akkordeonstück mitgesummt oder gesungen, und am Ende kam noch eine Dame und bat mich, ein weiteres Stück zu spielen, zu dem wir dann ein spontanes Duett gesungen haben. Das hat unheimlich viel Spaß gemacht.

This year, February is one day longer, and I will use this additional day to write a new blog post. Getting to publish something on the 29th of February doesn’t happen that often.
Music wise, this month was very intense. I played the organ once, had another service where I lead the singing (the org team didn’t want to have the organ, don’t ask me why, but at least I got to conduct the congregation), and last Saturday we had the major event with two choirs: performing Rossini’s Petite Messe Solenelle in a large church in Bad Nauheim (north of Frankfurt). And because all this wasn’t enough, I played accordion at a matinée yesterday.

It was hard work to find enough room for the music while holding a full-time job, but it was well worth it. Many of our choir members thanked me for the voice training and warm-up sessions, and some even asked for solo sessions with me. The audience at the matinée hummed and sung to almost every melody I played, and at the end, a lady came and asked for an additional song, and we sang a spontanueous duet. This was so much fun!

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Online resources for organists

Today I would like to share some online resources that I find really helpful for (church) organists.

There’s a good reason why I write this post in English – so far, I’ve found the most helpful and open forums and blogs in the English-speaking organ world. I tried to register in a German organ forum only to be told I had to wait for the admin to approve my request, and the wait goes on and on and on… at the same time, I’ve had a very friendly and open welcome to the Organ Forum (http://www.organforum.com). It’s a large community where you can talk about all kinds of organs and organ music: church, classical, theatre, Hammond… I can spend hours just browsing through the discussions.

I’ve found this forum in the link list of Mowenna’s wonderful organist’s blog: http://www.theladyorganist.com. I’ve been following her blog for a while already and it’s about time to recommend it 🙂

Then there’s a blog I’ve only discovered a few days ago, http://www.organduo.lt/ by Dr Vidas Pinkevicius. What should I say, his blog is one of the most concise and informative resources for organists I’ve found so far.

I’m sure there’s a lot more inspiring blogs and forums out there – if you would like to share your favourites, please feel free to contact me or write a comment. I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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Musik in der Karwoche und an Ostern / Music during passion week and Easter

In unserem Dorf gibt es eine kleine evangelische Kirche mit einer kleinen Orgel. Ich spiele seit einigen Monaten regelmäßig in den Gottesdiensten und möchte heute einen kleinen Einblick in meine musikalischen Aktivitäten geben.
Letzte Woche habe ich auf einer Abendveranstaltung Akkordeon und Blockflöte (Alt & Tenor) gespielt, was dazu führte, dass ich gebeten wurde, den Gottesdienst am Gründonnerstag mit dem Akkordeon zu begleiten. Wir feiern den Gottesdienst nämlich nicht direkt in der Kirche, sondern an Tischen sitzend im kleinen Saal, der an die Kirche angebaut ist. Nach dem Gottesdienst essen wir gemeinsam zu Abend = wir feiern Abendmahl. Ich habe als Vorspiel das Stück “Trost” von J. Kiessling ausgewählt.

Am morgigen Karfreitag spiele ich als Vorspiel das Präludium in g-Moll von A.F. Hesse und als Nachspiel das Trio in g-Moll (op. 49) von J.P. Rheinberger.

Der Ostersonntagsgottesdienst beginnt um 6 Uhr morgens, und zunächst ist die Kirche dunkel. Es gibt weder Glockengeläut noch ein Orgelvorspiel. Die Orgel beginnt erst im Verlauf des Gottesdienstes mit dem Lied “Christ ist erstanden”. Das Nachspiel ist ein Orgelstück in C-Dur von J.W. Häßler, ohne Titel, aber mit dem Hinweis “Fürs volle Werk” und “Allegro di molto”. “Volles Werk” heißt bei unserer kleinen Orgel ganze fünf Register, aber für die kleine Kirche ist das völlig ausreichend, und dass manche Töne leicht verstimmt sind, wird den Osterjubel kaum stören.


In our village, there’s a small protestant church with a small organ. I’ve started playing the organ for Sunday services regularly a few months ago and wanted to give a small summary of my current musical activities.

Last week, we had an evening event where I played accordion and recorder (alto & tenor) which led to me being asked whether I would play the according for Maundy Thursday service. This service takes place with the congration sitting at long tables in the hall adjacent to the church. After service, we have dinner together = hold eucharist/communion. I will play the piece “Trost” (consolation) in A-flat-major by J. Kiessling as prelude.

On Good Friday, I will play the prelude in g-minor by A.F. Hesse and the trio op. 49 in g-minor by J.P. Rheinberger as postlude.

Easter Sunday service starts at 6am in the morning, and the church will be dark. The bells will stay silent, and so will the organ. During service, the organ’s first piece will be the song “Christ ist erstanden” (Christ has risen). As postlude, I will play an organ piece in C-major by J.W. Häßler. It doesn’t have a title, but is supposed to be played “with full organ” and “allgro di molto”. “Full organ” means using all 5 stops the small organ has, but that’s enough for the small church. And the fact that some notes are a bit out of tune shouldn’t interfere with Easterly rejoycing.

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