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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Mailbag: “12-tone Music”

February 12, 2008

Dear Michael,

Is there much (or any) 12-tone/serial music for organ?




Yes, beginning with Arnold Schoenberg’s Variations on a Recitative (which I first heard at age 16 and have loved from the beginning…it is so lyric). Some of Olivier Messiaen’s scores (from Livre d’Orgue forward) use a kind of serial technique, too, and are fascinating. Beyond this I do not usually venture (have broadcast both of the above composers), simply because it is difficult enough to make friends for the organ with pieces by Bach, Mendelssohn and Widor, let along bringing in works which are certain to appeal to even the minority of the minority. I probably do broadcast more ‘modern music’ than most of the national classical music shows, but even I have my limits (or moments of reality). Check out a book on 20th century organ music online or in a library, and look for recordings.
There a not many but there are enough.





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