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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

[1929 Skinner organ at Woolsey Hall, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut]
1929 Skinner organ at Woolsey Hall, Yale University

Wagner at the Console

This week’s program redirects Richard Wagner’s focus to an instrument which sounds as lofty as any of as his own artistic ideas. Unlike Bach, Wagner never composed for solo organ but LIKE Bach his music adapts well to transcription. Listen to and enjoy your favorite overtures, choruses, arias and scenes convincingly transformed by such keyboard greats as Thomas Murray, Simon Preston, Carlo Curley and Anthony Newman.

Hold onto your horses. It’s opera without singers, pipes without preludes and fugues, and an atypical anomally as some of the grandest 19th century music is magically transformed in a manner possible only in the realm of the King of Instruments. This week we discover a surprise in every measure when we find Wagner at the Console.

Program Broadcast dates:

  • March 24, 2003

Music played in the program

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by George Thalben-Ball): Entry of the Guests/Grand March, from Tannhaüser –Thomas Murray (1929 Skinner/Woolsey Hall, Yale University, New Haven, CT) Priory PRCD338

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Edwin H. Lemare): Pilgrims’ Chorus, from Tannhaüser –Simon Preston (1984 Harrison/Westminster Abbey, London, England, UK) London/Decca 430 145

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Virgil Fox): Evening Star, from Tannhaüser –Virgil Fox (1953 Aeolian-Skinner/Riverside, New York, NY) EMI Classics CDC 65426

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Thalben-Ball): Bridal Chorus, from Lohengrin –George Thalben-Ball (1929 Henry Willis & Sons/Alexandra Palace, London, England, UK) Beulah CD-1PD5

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Nordwall): Act III Prelude, from Lohengrin –Jonas Nordwall (1921 Wurlizter/Howard Vollum Studio, Portland, OR) Organ Grinder CD-111

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Edwin H. Lemare): Die Meistersinger Overture –Anthony Newman and Friends (1954 Aeolian-Skinner; 2008 Quimby/Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York, NY) Columbia MS-33268

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Carlo Curley): Liebestod, from Tristan und Isolde –Carlo Curley (1930 E.M. Skinner/Girard College Chapel, Philadelphia, PA) Argo 430 200

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Cailliet): Elsa’s Procession to the Cathedral, from Lohengrin-Ridgewood Concert Band, Christian Wilhjelm, conductor; David Fedor (1954; 1990 Schantz/Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Newark, NJ) Pro Organo CD 7055

FRANZ LISZT: Am Grabe Richard Wagners –Gregory d ’Agostino (1976 Möller/National City Christian Church, Washington, DC) Centaur CD-2246

FRANZ LISZT/RICHARD WAGNER: March to the Holy Grail, from Parsifal –Justin Bischof (1988 Kleuker-Steinmeyer/Tonhalle, Zürich, Switzerland) Ethereal CD-106

RICHARD WAGNER (arranged by Thalben-Ball): Ride of the Valkyries, from Die Walküre –Anthony Newman (1954 Aeolian-Skinner; 2008 Quimby/Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York, NY) Columbia MS-33268

Though Richard Wagner did include a noteworthy organ part in his opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, his vision was directed towards areas other than the organ loft. We’ll forgive him…if he’ll forgive us!