Kansas Here I Come!

Hello 2017!

I was planning a column for the Christmas season when they announced the appointment of two new auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Their ordination was scheduled for January 19, so the crazy Advent-Christmas scheduled for a couple of weeks longer. The ordination even provided an improvisation challenge: how can you stretch an entrance procession to cover 500 people walking into the building?

Maybe it was only 450, but everyone in the upper and lower sanctuary as well as all the people in white on the right entered in procession. We did two hymns with interludes after every verse. What’s the longest procession you’ve played for? What did you do to keep the music interesting?

Kansas

As I was catching up on my reading after the holidays, I discovered that the American Guild of Organists has scheduled their next pedagogy conference, and its focus is improvisation! Organ and Improvisation Study in the French Conservatoire System will be held October 18 – 21, 2017 at The University of Kansas. I promptly signed up to attend. The lineup includes Olivier Latry, Michel Bouvard, Vincent DuBois and Philippe Lefebvre. More information is available at:
http://agopedagogyconference.music.ku.edu/
Please let me know if you plan to be there.

Simple Christmas Music

So the idea I wanted to get out for Christmas was based on one of the Orgelbüchlein chorales: Der Tag, der ist so freudenreich, BWV 605. The score (with a little alto clef for fun) starts like this:

At least in the US, virtually no one will recognize this as a Christmas tune, but the structure of the piece is simple enough that I thought it could be easily applied to Christmas tunes that people do know. The soprano is a straightforward presentation of the tune on a solo stop. The bass is a very simple harmonic bass with occasional passing tones. The interest of the piece comes from the treatment of the alto and tenor. The tenor has a dotted eighth and sixteenth note pattern while the alto fills in between the two tenor notes with either two thirty-second notes or a sixteenth note before finishing the beat with an eighth note.

The rhythmic pattern simplifies into or can be derived from a standard 4-part chorale harmonization very easily. I opened the hymnal at random and applied it to a few Christmas tunes: While Shepherds Watched (WINCHESTER OLD), How Brightly Shines (WIE SCHÖN LEUCHTET), and Good Christian Friends, Rejoice (IN DULCI JUBILO). While Christmas is over, you could certainly do the same with tunes from other seasons.

NPM

In other news, I have been asked to lead an organ masterclass at the National Pastoral Musicians Conference this summer in Cincinnati. The masterclass will cover repertoire or improvisation according to what the student wishes to work on. If you’d like to participate, please check out the convention brochure.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and that 2017 is off to a fabulous beginning for you.

Glenn


Newsletter Issue 62 – 2017 01 30

See the complete list of past newsletter issues here.

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János Pálúr

János PálúrWebsite:
http://palur.hu
YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/user/palurj/videos


János Pálúr is professor of organ at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest and titular organist of the Fasor Reformed Church. From 1995 to 1997 he studied organ with Olivier Latry in the Perfectionnement class of the Conservatory of Paris (CNSM). In 1997 he won the Grand Prix of the second International Organ Competition of Paris.

Recordings:
PalurImprovisations


Concerts2004Palur


200 Improvisations


Videos:
János Pálúr and László Fassang – Improvisation on ‘O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden’ – Fanciscans Church Budapest
János Pálúr – Dies Irae – Improvisation – Palace of Arts, Budapest
Olivier Latry, László Fassang and János Pálúr – Sortie Improvisation – Notre Dame de Paris

Gaston Litaize

gaston-litaize-aux-claviers-de-l-orgue-de-saint-françois-xavier-à-parisAssociation Gaston Litaize:
http://www.gastonlitaize.com/

Gaston Litaize (1909 – 1991) was a French organist and composer. An illness caused him to lose his sight just after birth. He entered the Institute for the Blind in Nancy, studying with Charles Magin. Magin encouraged him to continue studies in Paris at the Institut National des Jeunes Aveugles. Litaize enrolled concurrently there and at the Paris Conservatory. His teachers in Paris included Adolphe Marty, Marcel Dupré, Henri Büsser, and Louis Vierne.

In 1939, Litaize became organist at Saint-Cloud, and in 1944 he became director of religious radio programs, overseeing five weekly broadcasts. In 1946, Litaize became organist titulaire at Saint‑François‑Xavier, a post he held until his death. When he retired from the radio in 1975, he became the organ teacher at the Conservatoire in St Maur-des-Fossés. His students there included Denis Comtet, Olivier Latry, Eric Lebrun, and Christophe Mantoux.

Litaize made numerous recordings, some of which have been reissued. He also was very active as a composer. A complete list of his compositions is available here. Olivier Latry has even transcribed and published one of Litaize’s improvisations.

Biography:

Gaston Litaize by Sébastien Durand
This book is in French.


Fantaisie et Fugue sur le nom de Gaston Litaize
Alain Litaize
This book is in French and includes an audio CD with unpublished works and improvisations of Gaston Litaize.

Recordings:

Gaston Litaize: Organ
Includes an improvisation on Victinmae paschali laudes.


Gaston Litaize: Récital de Son 80 Anniversaire
Includes Litaize playing some of his own compositions and an improvisation.


Gaston Litaize e Guy Bovet: All’organo di Carasso (Ticino)
Includes repertoire played by Gaston Litaize and Guy Bovet as well as an improvisation by each of the organists.

ohscatalog_2270_113982655
Litaize plays Litaize
Gaston Litaize plays his own works on the 1979 Winfried Albiez (Lindau / Lake Constance) organ located in the gallery of the Church of St. Mary in Kempen, Germany as well as three improvisations. Available through OHS.

László Fassang

Fassang_368x800Official website:
fassang.hu

YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEfvVAaafNKJGav583-Pxnw


A native of Budapest, László Fassang was born into a musical family and began to study the organ at age thirteen under the tutelage of István Baróti. He graduated from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in 1998, having studied piano under Ilona Prunyi and organ with Ferenc Gergely and István Ruppert. Fassang then entered the Paris Conservatory, where he studied organ with Olivier Latry and Michel Bouvard, as well as improvisation under Loïc Mallié, Philippe Lefebvre, Thierry Escaich, and Jean-François Zygel. In 2002 he won the Improvisation Gold Medal at the Royal Bank Calgary International Organ Festival and Competition. He is represented in the US by Karen McFarlane.

Recordings:

László Fassang au grand orgue de la cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres
Includes repertoire by Alain, Bach, Liszt, Vierne and an improvisation.

The Art of Organ Improvisation – The Four Seasons (Vol. 5) was recorded at the Palace of Arts in 2008 and released by the German company Organ Promotion.


Course Of The Moon: Live Improvisations
László Fassang, piano, and Lé Quang, saxophone

Video:
László Fassang – Improvisation on ‘Dies Irae’ – Biserica Reformată de pe Ulița Lupilor
Olivier Latry, László Fassang and János Pálúr – Sortie Improvisation – Notre Dame de Paris

Multi-Organist Improvisation

As impressive as it may seem to hear one organist improvise, there are occasions where two or more organists gather together and improvise, either one after another, or perhaps even at the same time. Below are a few videos from YouTube where you can see how different artists manage to make this happen.

Olivier Latry, Vincent Dubois, Paolo Oreni and Michael Bottenhorn – Happy Birthday – St. Joseph, Bonn Beuel
Olivier Latry, Philippe Lefèbvre, Vincent Dubois, Paolo Oreni and Kalevi Kiviniemi – Improvisation-à-cinque – St. Joseph, Bonn Beuel
Olivier Latry & Philippe Lefebvre – Variations Pt. 1

Olivier Latry & Philippe Lefebvre – Variations Pt. 2
Frédéric Blanc, François-Henri Houbart and Olivier Latry improvise

Traditional songs

Popular songs are frequent themes for concert improvisations, usually giving rise to a set of theme and variations, though occasionally being used in other forms. As the melody is usually very familiar to the audience (i.e. popular), it is generally easier for the people to follow and understand the development of the theme when well presented.

Example songs:

Recordings:

Franz Lehrndorfer
Theme & Variations, Vol. 1: Improvisations on Children’s Songs

Videos:
Olivier Latry – Improvisation on The Simpsons Theme – Toronto
Pierre Pincemaille – Theme and Variations on a popular tune – St Martin de Dudelange – Luxembourg
Olivier Latry, Vincent Dubois, Paolo Oreni and Michael Bottenhorn – Happy Birthday – St. Joseph, Bonn Beuel

YouTube Channels

YouTube is a great place to visit in order to see and hear many different organists improvise. Some even have their own channels. Listed below are artists and other YouTube channels that include improvisation videos as a significant portion of their content.

Artists

Other Users

Playlists

Olivier Latry

Festival Musica: Olivier Latry, concert d'orgue Messiaen aÃÄ l'eglise ST PaulProfessor of Organ in the Conservatoire de Paris.
In 1985, at 23 years of age, Latry was awarded the post of one of four titulaires des grands orgue of Notre-Dame, Paris alongside Yves Devernay, Philippe Lefèbvre and Jean-Pierre Leguay, following the death of Pierre Cochereau.
Full bio.


Recordings:

Olivier Latry: On A Sunday Afternoon at Washington National Cathedral
This recording features Olivier Latry’s 2007 recital on the pipe organ in Washington National Cathedral and includes works of Louis Vierne, Felix-Alexandre Guilmant and two improvisations by Latry.

Videos:
Sortie – 18.09.2011 – Notre Dame
Sortie – 10-09-2011 – Notre Dame
À la Bach – Notre Dame
Communion – 29.03.2008 – Notre Dame
Olivier Latry – Organ Blessing Versets – Our Lady of Refuge, Brooklyn, NY
Olivier Latry – Improvisation on The Simpsons Theme – Toronto
Olivier Latry with Vincent Dubois, Paolo Oreni and Michael Bottenhorn – Happy Birthday – St. Joseph, Bonn Beuel
Olivier Latry & Philippe Lefebvre – Variations Pt. 1
Olivier Latry & Philippe Lefebvre – Variations Pt. 2
Olivier Latry, Philippe Lefèbvre, Vincent Dubois, Paolo Oreni and Kalevi Kiviniemi – Improvisation-à-cinque – St. Joseph, Bonn Beuel