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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

[E. Power Biggs]

E. Power Biggs

March 2006

Biography

E. Power Biggs (March 29, 1906–March 10, 1977) was one of the most influential figures in the American Musical world during the middle decades of the twentieth century. His name became a household word during the 1940s and 1950s, when his Sunday morning radio broadcasts brought fine organ music of all periods to listeners throughout the United States. As a renowned recitalist and recording artist, he stood for the best in organ music and the best in instruments.

 

Links and resources

  The E. Power Biggs Organ Credo
George Steinmeyer interview (& pictures)
E. Power Biggs, Concert Organist - Barbara Owen
Organ Library (Boston U.) Special Collection
E. Power Biggs - Wikipedia article
Sony Classical Biography & Discography
Out of Print LPs from 1938 - 2/14/1966
EPB and the Glass Armonica
Missionary Zeal: E. Power Biggs & Virgil Fox

Biggs played everything from Buxtehude, Bach, and Handel to Hindemith, Scott Joplin, and Ives; and he experimented with such diverse media as the pedal harpsichord and the latest in quadraphonic sound recording. He encouraged American composers to write new works for the organ and performed them regularly on the radio and at his recitals. As the leading interpreter of music for organ with other instruments, he premiered many major works with American orchestras. He was an indefatigable performer, concertizing throughout the world and giving exposure abroad to works by such American composers as Sowerby, Copland, and Piston.

  E. Power Biggs
  E. Power Biggs at Methuen Memorial Hall, circa 1950
Biggs eschewed electronic instruments and did everything he could to encourage churches and concert halls to acquire instruments by the best builders. He set his own example with two pace-setting instruments installed in the Germanic Museum of Harvard University. He was one of the pioneers in the return to smaller, tracker-action organs for the performance of Baroque and Classical literature. In his search for authenticity, he visited the places where some of the organ greats had lived, and in a Historic Organs of Europe series, recorded the music of Frescobaldi, Soler, Sweelinck, and Bach, among others, on the instruments they had actually played.

E. Power Biggs was born in England and came to the United States in the midst of the Great Depression as a totally unknown and almost penniless young musician. By dint of dedication to his art and to his adopted country, he attracted a devoted following, achieved great fame, and revolutionized the organ world.

- taken from E. Power Biggs, Concert Organist by Barbara Owen.