Neglect of British and American Concert Organ Music

Neglect of British and American Concert Organ Music

One essay by Dr Wolfram Syré in his blog on, “The Barde,” was kindly brought to my attention by Steve Schlesing. The full title is too long for a good headline, but here it is: “The scandalous neglect of British and US-American concert hall organ-music is still going strong until today.” His writings and choices of literature often coincide with mine, and this column is one of them. While you read, I suggest you listen to some of the huge selection of his performances on his website (below).

I was very irritated seeing that the articles about e. g. William Thomas Best, Alfred Hollins or John Ebenezer West have been eliminated from the new edition of the the “New Grove’s Dictionary of Music.” Somewhere I read that the organ music of these composers would not be “serious” or “important” enough. Speaking about British organ music only, names like e. g. Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, Charles Villiers Stanford, Alan Gray, Edward Elgar, Basil Harwood, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frank Bridge, George Thalben-Ball or Percy Whitlock are mentioned.

His website is

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Christos Patterakis on the Reuter Sample Set

The Organ of Temple Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon

Steve Schlesing has made a recording of Roy Perry’s Christos Patterakis on this sample set taken from Reuter’s Opus 227 from 1926. It’s a great match of music and instrument. Thanks, Steve!

Here’s a bit about the organ that was sampled (from the Sonus Paradisi website).

The congregation was formed in 1858 and first met in Burke’s Hall on First Street. In 1861 they built their first edifice which was the first synagogue on the Northern Pacific coast. It was enlarged four years later, but was soon outgrown. A new temple was consecrated in 1889 and housed a Geo. Kilgen organ that burned with the temple in 1923. The present Byzantine-style temple of brick and sandstone was consecrated in April 1928. The Reuter organ was contracted on December 28, 1926. It was scheduled for delivery in September 1927, but was probably not installed until 1928. The cost of the organ was $25,000.00.

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Karl August Haupt by Everett Truette

Karl August Haupt by Everett Truette

Everett Truette was a prolific writer on many aspects of music and musicians. I have restored some of Truette’s music, and this month I restored Haupt’s Two Canons on a Choral Theme in the style of Bach. This shows you exactly for what Haupt was known — improvisations in the style of Bach. Read this article from The Etude from February 1901 to learn something of this great organist’s life and music.

Click to enlarge.

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An Interview with Paul Jacobs

An Interview with Paul Jacobs

Here is an interview with Paul Jacobs by Parker Ramsay from July 27. There are photos and videos throughout the text. My thanks go out to Edward Peterson who recommended this for the blog.


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Wrapping in Plastic Is a Good Idea

“My music parcel arrived yesterday in perfect shape. The wrapping in plastic was really a good idea. A few times I have received music that got wet in transit or on delivery. I look forward to receiving email announcements from you. Thank you.” —Texas, USA

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Pedal Study, Chorale Canons, Parachutists March, and Our Old Folks

August is for many in the USA “vacation month.” I have chosen two selections which are indeed vacation-worthy, but the other two are solid technique builders. Read below to find out which is which.


1. TWO SETS OF VARIATIONS FOR PEDAL STUDY, by Eugene Thayer. John Apple chose these two for their pedal technique improvement and because they are not as easily available as much of Thayer’s other music. Besides, you need a few months to perfect Adeste Fideles!

2. TWO CANONS ON A CHORAL THEME, by August Haupt. If you know his name at all, it is because he taught nearly every American organist in the 19th century, including Thayer. Haupt was a lover of Bach and was known for his improvisations in the style of Bach. Here are two canons on a tune that Bach probably knew but didn’t use.

3. MARCHE OFFICIALE DES PARACHUTISTES BELGES, by Pierre Leemans, arranged by Allan Ontko. This well-known march was arranged by Allan back in 1996, and I thought its light military style with a bit of tongue-in-cheek added would be perfect for August.

4. OLD FOLKS AT HOME, by Stephen Foster, arranged by Wenham Smith. His dramatic variations on “Swanee River” were published during his first year (1888) as organist of the great Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Oliver Ditson had taken over the piece but still did not credit Foster in the printed music. At least they removed the composer credit for E P Christy! I want to acknowledge the assistance of Sharon L Hettinger in preparing this restoration.

MONTHLY DISCOUNT BUNDLE. To get the four pieces mentioned above, I offer a special price so you can buy all of the pieces above with one click and save money in the deal. I welcome your support, and if you don’t want to play a particular piece in the group, consider giving it to a student or another organist.

Thank you for sharing your interest in this music by playing it and sharing it online. I hope someone will send me their recording of the Parachutists March so I can take off my computer’s “performance.” 🙂

I need some lead time for my mother to make the Organ Console Dust Cloths for Christmas. Last year, it was not possible to get enough in time, so this year I want to get an idea to give her time to prepare. To make things simple, I present choices below and you can just reply to me with the numbers you think you’ll need.

White: ___ Red: ___ Blue: ___ Green: ___ Pink: ___ Purple: ___ One Eighth Note: ___ Two Eighth Notes: ___ Treble Clef: ___


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Chautauqua, Here We Come

Organ Concerts A Celebration of the Organ’s Survival

Here is a story that will make you feel good about what’s doing in Chautauqua. I’m especially proud that Jared has chosen to play some of the music that I’ve restored (Dawn and Night by Cyril Jenkins) I hope to get back up there in 2018 to hear him live!

After 110 years, multiple restorations and the complete rebuild of its home around it, the Massey Memorial Organ remains standing in the new Amphitheater.

The first Massey Memorial Organ Mini-Concert of the season will honor that resilience at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Amp. Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, titled the program “Survivor!” and said it will showcase the continued strength of the instrument.

“It really is a survivor,” Jacobsen said.

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Man-made versus Reproduced Music

The Menace of Mechanical Music

From Appleton’s Magazine from 1906, I present some of the most impressive prognostication of all time.

Children are naturally imitative, and if, in their infancy, they hear only phonographs, will they not sing, if they sing at all, in imitation and finally become simply human phonographs – without soul or expression? Congregational singing will suffer also, which, though crude at times, at least improves the respiration of many a weary sinner and softens the voices of those who live amid tumult and noise.

If you have not read “The Menace of Mechanical Music,” I heartily invite you to peruse the entire article. It’s not really long, and what John Philip Sousa wrote more than a century ago contains startlingly accurate descriptions of what we experience in our lives today.


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The fight to save New York’s historic Erben Organ

The Fight to Save New York’s Historic Erben Organ

There’s not much to the video part of this story from CBSN, but it is a powerful story about our heritage and the musical and religious history of New York City. I hope that this is really not a fight at all but a point of rallying behind the organ to keep and repair it. This was not the case with another important instrument, the Round Lake Organ, removed from New York City back in 1888.

The Erben Organ, as it was named after its creator, was designed by world-renowned New York City organ builder Henry Erben near the culmination of his six-decade career. Its structure was erected by his team of highly skilled American and European immigrant craftsmen, and the organ was delivered to St. Patrick’s by horse and carriage in 1868, just three years after the end of the Civil War.

Today, it is the only large, mid-19th-century pipe organ left in America that’s intact in its original acoustic space. And Lamenzo believes it is one of the most important historic instruments in the nation.

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“I Am A Real Boy” (Me!)

“Perfect. In in these Amazon mass marketing times, it’s nice to hear from a real human being. Especially the proprietor! All the best.” —Canada

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