Twentieth-Century Organ Music

By Archbold, Lawrence | The American Organist, August 2013 | Go to article overview

Twentieth-Century Organ Music


Archbold, Lawrence, The American Organist


TWENTIETH-CENTURY ORGAN MUSIC TWENTIETH-CENTURY ORGAN MUSIC, ed. Christopher S. Anderson. New York and London: Routledge, 2012. xvi, 349 pp., ill. ISBN 9780415875653.

Review Feature by Lawrence Archbold

Organists do not lack for books that survey their repertoire. From exhaustively detailed lists of publications and manuscripts from around the Western world (such as Klaus Beckmann's Repertorium Orgelmusik: 1150-2000) to equally wide-ranging prose accounts of the history of organ music (Organ Literature: A Comprehensive Survey by Corliss Arnold is but one of several in a variety of languages), such projects invite players to learn about composers of organ music and their compositions. Especially in the case of student organists, readers may thereby come to appreciate the value of a reliable works list and discover the resources with which program notes might be written.

Twentieth-Century Organ Music, edited by Christopher S. Anderson for the "Routledge Studies in Musical Genres" series, presents twelve essays by as many authors, noting that, despite previous surveys, the organ repertoire of the 20th century has never before been the sole topic of an entire volume. Moreover, the editor proposes to understand the repertoire survey as encompassing an exceptionally wide range of topics. Indeed, Anderson sets forth ambitious, even daring, aims for this book: "to situate the music in a multidimensional context" certain that "the organ's music has had as much to say about the values of its culture as has the music of any other 20th-century repertoire." Abandoning the threadbare binary oppositions of "'sacred' versus 'secular'" and "'academic' versus 'practical,'" the book seeks "critical, original contributions to a history of 20th-century music generally" (p. xv). Of course, not all twelve of the essays in the volume achieve this goal; bringing the study of organ music into the world of contemporary musicology is a bigger agenda than one book can accomplish. To try to do so, however, is a noble quest. What makes this book important is that it does in fact try and sometimes even succeeds.

The first chapter in the volume looks to the instrument itself as a place to begin. "The Organ in the Twentieth Century" by James L. Wallmann provides an account of the multitudinous styles of 20th-century organbuilding more generous than might be expected from a repertoire survey. Categories are abundant and useful: the author teases apart organ types such as Romantic, symphonic, and orchestral, demonstrates the wide variety found in Orgelbewegung instruments, contrasts eclectic ideals with those that are "historically informed," and concludes with the "neo-symphonic" organ as a late-century specialized style. Such emphasis on the special qualities of these many instrument types invites investigation of the idiomatic qualities (or lack thereof) of corresponding repertoire. The essay edges closer to the social and cultural explanations sought by the editor in its concluding "Internationalism and Regional Developments" section, where we learn that "Economic conditions, war, and national pride prevented the development of any international styles in the first half of the 20th century" (p. 29).

The reader must, however, turn to another essay, that by Peter Williams, to understand more about the interplay of the organ and its cultural context. Peter Williams's "The Idea of Bewegung in the German Organ Reform Movement of the 1920s" (the only item in the volume that has previously appeared in print) demonstrates how the nexus of ideas and opinions that characterize this movement embodies both a "national movement" and "cultural centrism" (p. 116). Williams casts a critical eye over the leaders of this trend in organ-building and calls into question their attitudes toward Bach, historical performance practice, editions, scholars outside Germany, and many other matters. With such a multifaceted look at a relatively narrow topic (in comparison, say, to that addressed by Wallmann), he is able to make sense of claims such as those made by J. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Twentieth-Century Organ Music
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.