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«Quo vadis organum?»

Started by organforumadmin, September 11, 2011, 01:02:02 AM

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A Questioning Inventory
Prof. Dr. Alois Koch

The question is symptomatic and would never be raised for any other instrument.
Whereto should the organ go? But the word «organ» means
just about everything: organist, organ music, organ building, functional
context, adoption and prestige. With no other instrument is its origin, history,
setting and audience as equally biased as with the organ, so that any
inventory, particularly a critical one, is confronted with prejudices and
specific expectations, with idealisation and ideologisation. The question
remains whether analytic involvement with such diverse premises can
create a foundation for a future understanding of the organ – in church
and worship, in the concert hall, in education, literature and in practice.

David Pinnegar


Professor Dr Alois Koch. Music Scientist, Lucerne.

Support for the organ is a marginal phenonomen. Why ask "Quo vadis Organum?" - "Where are we going?"

Where is the organ going to go? No other instrument has such a rich history. 13th century: organs were included in the church but critical voices rejected the organ in the church till Pope Piers in 1903.

Mozart called it the Queen of Instruments - Liszt called it the Pope of Instruments.

Till the 2nd Vatican Council the organ was only subsidiary. There was a hidden distrust of organ music in church. Martin Luther called it the work of the Devil, in line with St Augustin. It was said to be used to bring in the stupid and the young members of the public in 1526 when it was instructed that it should be used with all stops and all pipes.

With Bach the instrument was both a symbol of protestantism as well as a bourgeouis development to Frescobaldi and his successors. It was a means of fending off the Enlightenment and increasing secularism. ?Tibor? required music to be pure. 1793 Holy Celcilia ?what have you used to from Handel to Bach. The Concert Hall became the new arena of the bourgeoursie - the organ was used to paraphrase opera to pacify the frustration of the feudal classes in Italy who otherwise had not access to opera. In the 20th century the organ was rediscovered as a fashionable instrument especially in Switzerland. Heinemann signals social change. 50 years back the identity of organists could be challenged. Dwindling socialisation from integrated social inclusion to daily events. Organ appreciation is no longer concert based but event based. In an age of constant communication you have to keep repeating your message. A Swiss politician once said that if you don't speak you are going to undermine your own country, and the organ is similar.

In this world of the modern media, musicians and theologians deal with identical problems.

Even if God plays less of a role, there is a large interest in spiritual dimensions.