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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Mystery composer question”

October 27, 2006


Dear Michael,

Love your program! I listen to it while grading papers! As a former seminarian (SWTS) I once heard our chapel organist play a piece whose composer’s name I can’t seem to spell correctly or title I don’t quite recall. Camille Seisans? The piece; apparations, or variations on the divine.

Can you give me any help here? The piece has been haunting me, and I’d love to find a copy of it. Your generous assistance much appreciated from out here on the reservation (where I teach.)

Chris Cyran

Ft. Defiance, AZ

Dear Chris,

You don’t make things easy. Camille Saint-Saens, composer of the famous “Organ” Symphony (No. 3 in C-minor, Op. 78…for organ and orchestra) wrote dozens of solo works for pipe organ. I do not recall any of them having titles that included either the words “apparitions” or “Variations on the Divine”.

Those terms are more likely found on the works of another Frenchman, Olivier Messiaen (Apparition of the Eternal Church or Meditations on the Mysteries of the Holy Trinity). I would characterize Messiaen’s music as more likely to be ‘haunting’, though some pages of Saint-Saens qualify, too (Fantasy in D-flat, for instance).

I suggest you do some google-searching and research a bit more. I can recommend the music of both composers (without reservation!), though they are very different from each other, and an appreciation of one might not carry with it an enjoyment of the other.

Still, why not purchase a single CD of each composer and begin an adventure.

Try the Organ Historical Society online catalog:

Happy hunting.



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