Who is your least favorite composer for organ?
  • This should be an interesting thread...

    I am not a fan of Widor's organ music (disclaimer: I've listened to all his symphonies, I promise!); I find it to be either really stiff or overblown. I do like Symphony no. 6 in G, however.

    How about you?
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    Messaien and then...
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,943
    Bach, especially fugues - I am not fond of fugues. They are all technique and no soul. Messaien, anything by him.
  • cesarfranck
    Posts: 158
    Robert Schumann's organ works are very dull and pedantic. I like very little of the German Romantic era organ genre with exception of Brahms.
    Thanked by 1francis
  • I am very fond of fugues. They are all profound and have much soul.

    If I had a least favourite ccomposer it would be some run of the mill romantic. I am not fond of the orchestral era's repertoire because I love the organ as a liturgical instrument and its liturgical repertory - it should never have been made into an orchestral stand in.
    Thanked by 3Viola francis MarkS
  • Jackson,

    This means you're not a fan of Saint-Saens as a composer, nor do you like Also Sprach Zarathustra?
  • Chris -

    I did say 'run of the mill'. Saint-Seans is hardly run of the mill. He was a great composer of greatly boring music.

    As for Also sprach Zarathustra, my feelings are similar to those expressed by someone of some bygone era who, when asked how he liked Wagner, replied 'well, he has his moments, but oh, the spaces in between'.

    Come to think of it, what with all the current rage for playing transcriptions of gaudy romantic music on unfortunate organs, I am surprised that we haven't been treated to an organ arrangement of Also sprach Zaruthustra. (Or, perhaps it has been done and I had the good fortune to miss out on it.)

    My very leastly favoured composers of all time would be the ilk of Karl-Heinz Stockhausen, who, thankfully, have written nothing for the organ.
  • SalieriSalieri
    Posts: 3,177
    All late-19th/early-20th century composers of extremely boring "Liturgical" pieces from the "Caecilian" movement.
  • RCS333
    Posts: 43
    Anyone who wrote cheesy post VII “folk style” religious music with a clearly pianistic accompaniment part and then published it under the heading - Organ/Piano Accompaniment ;)

    On a more serious note, of the composers regarded as great I second Little Durufle’s comment about Widor...
    Thanked by 1KyleM18
  • @cesarfranck

    I heard a performance of Schumann's "Canon in B minor," and though performed decently, I felt like I was wandering around in a psychedelic nightmare...definitely not a piece on my bucket list!
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • I add another organ composer:

    Franz Liszt.

    The "B.A.C.H." is somewhat interesting, but his other works seem to me like weird noodling on stave paper. The Fantasia on "Ad nos," makes me ask, "Why?"
  • Eons ago, I participated in a performance of a Saint-Saens piece (I was a lowly page turner) whose name I don't remember, and Also Sprach..., both of which included the organ and orchestral instruments.

    Masterpieces of coordination. Otherwise, I wasn't so interested in them.
    Thanked by 1cesarfranck
  • tandrews
    Posts: 161
    Jehan Alain.
  • eft94530eft94530
    Posts: 1,577
    what with all the current rage for playing transcriptions of gaudy romantic music on unfortunate organs

    Perhaps a cure is ..
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,967
    I can just feel the love here for Ives:

  • Perhaps a cure is...
    Here is a timely quote from the current (June) issue of The American Organist -

    Organ music in which God is absent
    is like a body without a soul.
    - Charles Tournemire
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    Ives, Ives, throwing knives
  • Kevin814
    Posts: 42
    I've got to second the nomination of Alain. Other than Litanies, his music just strikes me as hideous.
    Runners-up: Ligeti, Bolcom, Persichetti.
  • ClemensRomanusClemensRomanus
    Posts: 1,023
    I love Ives!
    Thanked by 1chonak
  • The Guy who wrote The Happy Organ.
    Thanked by 1eft94530
  • I've got to second the nomination of Alain. Other than Litanies, his music just strikes me as hideous.

    I don't know... I found his Requiem to be strikingly beautiful and relevant to the chant version. https://youtu.be/iseoY4KX5Sk

    I can't speak to his organ work.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    Ives is an interesting experiment in organ listening, but once of each piece is enough for me. Heard it in college and that was the last time I ever listened to his works.
  • ...once of each piece...
    Very true. Like most jokes, musical or otherwise, it is only fun or funny once - then one realises that there's nothing there to speak of. One could, though, I suppose, argue that Ives's variations are a somewhat sophisticated joke.

    I first heard Ives's variations on 'America' in the early sixties. It was in a recital by E. Power Biggs at Trinity Lutheran Church, Houston. I remember thinking that it was very funny, a clever joke, and wondering why no one was chuckling. A few years later I played there in a master class by Arthur Poister, who spoke highly of my playing of Durufle-Tournemire's Cantilene Improvisee. Little did I know then or even dream that I would be choirmaster there and have that wonderful 50 rank Holtkamp for my own about five years later.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    yes, i will agree that it is somewhat a sophisticated joke, and i will admit that i have written jokes for the organ.

    Hear A Simulation

  • Adam WoodAdam Wood
    Posts: 6,451
    Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

    He knows what he did.
    Thanked by 2Liam Incardination
  • Welcome back, Adam!
  • And the award for brilliant comment goes to:
    Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck

    He knows what he did.

  • Why is Sweelinck appearing in a thread about 'least favourite composers'?
    Let us drink a toast to the 'Orpheus of Amsterdam', the 'maker of organists'.
    Like Mozart, he knew what he did, and that it was good - very good!

    (Mozart, come to think of it, is one of my least favourite composers for the organ - though I do admire greatly the remainder of his oeuvre].)
  • francis
    Posts: 10,697
    (Mozart, come to think of it, is one of my least favourite composers for the organ - though I do admire greatly the remainder of his oeuvre].)

    Close to my thinking...

    (Mozart, come to think of it, is one of my least favourite composers...)

    But I really don't even consider him a composer for the organ, so I did not mention it in this thread previously.

    However, I DO LOVE THIS PIECE... by HIM!!!! (especially the Fugue)

    I wish he had composed much more like this... you COULD play this on the organ and it would sound wonderful.


    Better performance:


    However, in my interpretation of performing this fugue I use mostly a carefree attitude throughout.
  • Aha! So there is one piece of Mozart that Francis likes. One never thought that we should hear of it.

    Actually, the first recording was, I thought, rather brutal, and the second one was approached in a rather romantic vein. The second was without question the more musical.

    The pianos, too, were interesting. We hardly ever see a piano on the vast territory of youtube that is not a Steinway. The Bosendorfer was a breath of fresh air, especially with its resonant bass register. Steinway's voicing is more consistent from bass through treble. Steinway constitutes about 98% of the pianos heard over youtube performances. The remainder are a rare Yamaha and a very slightly more often Fazioli. I, for one, am waiting to hear one of the new straight strung instruments by Chris Maene - for which Daniel Barenboim, who had one built for him, has high praise.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I don't recall how much he wrote just for organ, but I fail to appreciate almost any of Benjamin Britten's works. Don't get me started on that one piece about 'the cat'. The first time I heard it I laughed a lot. The second time I heard it in concert, I think I let out a loud "Oh no, not this one again..."
  • Jacob -

    'For I Will Consider My Cat Jeoffry' - I can see why you should have laughed. Pieces like this are not to be taken too seriously. They are light-hearted and a chuckle or two is quite appropriate. Why, the accompaniment itself portrays the way in which cats slink about. Britten wrote much more that was sublime, so to judge him unfairly by this one lark is a great injustice. Try hearing his Festival Te Deum, or some of his other anthems and canticles; or his opera, Peter Grimes, the War Requiem, Noyes Fludde, Rejoice in the Lamb, 'Take Him, Earth, for Cherishing', written in memory of John F. Kennedy, or some of his other very substantial works.
    Thanked by 2WGS cesarfranck
  • As an addendum to my above Benjamin Britten remarks -
    One can see on youtube a marvelous film about Britten's life.
    It's called A Time There Was, by Tony Palmer.
    A beautifully done film!
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 5,159
    One of my favourite Benjamin Britten works, Hymn to St. Ceclia Op. 27, text by W.H. Auden:

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    This work inspired (in some measure, but with an entirely different texture) my own Hymn for St Cecilia, text by Ursula Vaughan Williams:

    Score, MP3, and parts available at CPDL