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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “Disarmed…”

September 30, 2007

Dear Michael,

I don’t have a question, but nothing on your web page invites me to send a lauditory comment. So, here comes a laudatory comment. I’m a Bach fanatic, and my collection of organ music is heavy into baroque organs with no tremolo and lots of chiff. But your autumn program with theatre organs was disarming. Thank you for an enchanting evening of novel (for me) listening!



It’s difficult to play the organ (or to write a fan-letter, too!) when disarmed, but I thank you for your message. Though in my youth I always enjoyed the theater organ (along with my Biggs and Fox), I confess that the more I listen to the best theater organists, the more impressed I am with their ability to ‘sell’ the song, and the virtuosity they evidence both in pushing down the notes in an expressive way and also manipulating the registers and swell-boxes…lots of stuff happening all the time.

And those theater instruments can sound pretty gorgeous, too. This afternoon I played part of a recital on a little spitty 1969 neo-classic thing (not the best example of its kind, unfortunately), and returned home listening to the PIPEDREAMS broadcast, enjoying particularly the suavity of the Plummer Auditorium Wurlitzer and the delicious purr of the Dickinson High School Kimball, the while thinking…hmmm, if the church had THAT instrument…!

There is great artistry in the best of all organ playing, regardless of ‘type’.

Glad you enjoyed the show.


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