The Haarlem Essays: Celebrating Fifty International Organ Festivals

By Wallmann, James L. | The American Organist, April 2015 | Go to article overview

The Haarlem Essays: Celebrating Fifty International Organ Festivals


Wallmann, James L., The American Organist


THE HAARLEM ESSAYS; CELEBRATING FIFTY INTERNATIONAL ORGAN FESTIVALS, ed. Paul Peeters. Bonn; Dr. J. Butz Musikverlag, 2014. Veröffentlichung der Gesellschaft der Orgelfreunde, 267. 472 pp., ill. + CD. ISBN 9783928412155. $53. Ohscatalog.org. The first Haarlem Organ Festival was held in 1951 and annually thereafter, until the festival moved to a two-year schedule in 1986. This excellent new book celebrates the 50th festival, held in summer 2014. Paul Peeters deftly edits The Haarlem Essays by bringing local knowledge as an organist trained in the Netherlands and former editor of Het Orgel, the leading Dutch organ periodical, and an international perspective from his current position as a researcher at the Göteborg Organ Art Center in Sweden. Peeters is also responsible for one of the major essays of the book, "The Müller Organ: One-upmanship in the Dutch Organ Scene," the best account of this world-famous instrument in English. In other essays about the Müller organ, Wim S. Ros describes the organ cases of St. Bavo's, while Frits Elshout of the Flentrop firm and Stephen Taylor ask, "Who Created the Present Organ at St. Bavo's?" The answer, according to Elshout, is that it is an instrument of Christian Müller "to a certain extent"; it is a Marcussen organ from a technical standpoint but not from a tonal perspective; and it is not a Flentrop organ because the Dutch organbuilder has only been trying to "re-establish the situation left by Müller as far as possible" (p. 132). Taylor focuses on "Dutch organ culture in the mid20th century" and puts the controversial restoration of the instrument in 1961 by Marcussen in its context.

The Haarlem Essays is divided into five sections. The first contains preliminary remarks by Hans Koenders (chair of the board of the Haarlem festival), the distinguished Austrian organist Hans Haselböck, and the editor, as well as explanatory notes and a listing of the tracks on the compact disc that accompanies the book. The next section, Part One, contains essays on the "roots and fruits" of the Haarlem festival by Hugo Bakker and Hans Fidom ("The Improvisation Competition: Innovation and Development"), Peter Planyavsky ("Haarlem, Vienna and the French Connection: The Diverse Art of Improvisation"), and Peter Ouwerkerk ("The Summer Academy: The Emergence of a Worldwide Mecca") and seven essays on organs in Haarlem and related subjects. The first three of these essays have already been mentioned. The others discuss the Cavaillé-Coll organ in the Haarlem concert hall (by René Verwer), "Four Haarlem Organs" (Bart van Buitenen), "The Haarlem Improvisation Competition: The Themes Revisited" (Jan Hage), and "Modern Organ Music in the Haarlem Festival" (Leo Samama).

The third section, "Intermezzo," is about people-"dramatis personae" as the section's subtide puts it. The first essay contains "interviews, portraits, thoughts, and impressions" of organists and others associated with the festival: Anders Bondeman, Haselböck, Els Hendrikse, André Isoir, Jan Jongepier, Piet Kee, and Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini. …

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