View Full Version : Second most important

Thomas Dressler
Sep-20-2005, 20:14
There's a very interesting discussion going on at the PIPORG-L list, and I thought it might be interesting to bring the discussion here and see what people might say.

Almost everyone agrees that the most important composer for the organ was JS Bach. But if you had to choose the SECOND most important, who would you choose?

Thomas Dressler (http://www.thomasdressler.com)

Julien A. Laurent
Sep-24-2005, 16:14
I would have to go out on a limb and say Olivier Messiaen, as his collections of organ music speak the most to me. After that I would say Frank, Vierne, Dupre, & Durufle...

I am ever-so-slightly biased on my French Roots... ;-)

Julien A. Laurent

Thomas Dressler
Sep-27-2005, 20:10
You're allowed to be biased! lol Actually, I think there are a lot of Americans who would agree with your choices, too, judging from what I've seen.

Perhaps my choice of Sweelinck for number two has something to do with the fact that my great-grandfather came here from Holland. https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif But then again, I'm mostly German. . .and I do like Franck. (You know, Franck was German, genetically speaking. . .lol)

Jan-06-2006, 21:59
Ouch! That's a tough one... https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/confused.gif

It really depends on what you look for: most gifted? most inspired? most original? most influential?

Hey, that actually tells us why J.S.Bach is #1: he's all of the above at once!

Thomas Dressler
Jan-06-2006, 23:19
Hehe, that was exactly the point I made on the PIPORG-L list when this came up--that you have to decide what makes a composer important! But I thought I'd leave the question vague on here to see if it would cause the same kind of discussion. . .but so far it hasn't done much!

At least almost everyone agrees on number 1! (Not much to discuss there!)

Jan-07-2006, 11:47
Hi Tom,

Charles Tournemire is my vote for second most important composer for organ. The suites that comprise his L'Orgue Mystique are, in a way, his answer to Bach's use of the Lutheran Choral melodies, since he freely uses the Gregorian Chant melodies in the construction of the L'Orgue Mystique. I juxtapose Bach's and Tournemire's music when ever I am asked to do a program of organ music.

E.G. A Bach organ choral for the Sunday in the Church Year then one of the other organ works, and then onto the suite for the Sunday Office. Those pieces will give a *homily* about the *message* of that Sunday celebration of which I'm interpreting.

Peace and Blessings,

Giovanni https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Jan-07-2006, 11:53

Franck is German? I dunno bout dat, dude. If he is born in Liege, Belgium - That makes him a Walloon, n'est-ce pas?

Maybe I have forgotten about where his parents were born.

I do know of a composer named Melchior Franck and he is definitely German https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

A Bientot,

Giovanni https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tiphat.gif

Jan-07-2006, 12:20
Hi giovannimusica,

Franck's family (on both parents' sides) is from the Aachen area - so Thomas is quite right.


Thomas Dressler
Jan-07-2006, 18:34
I have very little time right now because I have to leave in a little while to go to my church jobs for the weekend. But I wanted to say that I think this would be a very interesting discussion if we'd say who we think are other very important composers and why--what do we base our opinions on? For example, the reason I usually say Sweelinck is because he was so influential to the German organists--this Dutchman was basically the founder of the North German school of composition for the organ, leading directly to Bach. I always say if there had been no Sweelinck, Bach would have written very different music. While Bach himself united a very diverse mixture of styles into his own music, the German school was the structural foundation, it seems, of his music. And the north German school, for several generations, was mostly a continuation of Sweelinck's style. Of course you can always say so-and-so was a direct inluence on Sweelinck and trace everything to someone else, but Sweelinck was a very important close influence on Bach. So when I make this decision, I guess my definition of important is someone who has had a lot of lasting direct influence on the world of composition itself.

Tournemire is also an interesting choice, and I'm guessing that Giovanni, you're saying this because you feel his chant settings are quite profound. Let's hear more, this is an interesting topic to discuss!

Jan-07-2006, 20:49
Tournemire certainly had a personal formative influence on a few main actors of the 20th century French school: Maurice Durufle, Jean Langlais and Olivier Messiaen all fell under his spell at some point in their youth.

Widor may also be considered pretty influential, albeit more on instrumental technique rather than composition per se (this last remark being even more true of his protege Marcel Dupre).

Jean Alain, on the other hand, in contrast, had virtually no influence on anybody else although he was highly original - probably just in a too personal way to be "transferable" (well, nowadays people do say that French composer Jean-Louis Florentz (1947-2004) "picked up music where Alain left it").

In Germany, Reger is certainly an important composer, but I'm not so sure about his influence on subsequent generations of organist-composers.

Jan-07-2006, 22:13
Hi acc,

Thanx for helping me with info regarding Franck's parents.


Giovanni https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tiphat.gif

Jan-07-2006, 22:42
Dear Tom,

I love *T 's* chant settings just like I love Bach's settings of choral melodies. They both make a statement about things *eternal* and *unchanging*. Both of them were men of the Church with a profound faith. Methinks Bach would have liked Tournemire's stament about music. To wit: "Music that doesn't glorify God is useless.*

I wish to base my interest in Tournemire through what has been published in Dissertations by various authors. To wit: Ruth Sisson wrote "The Symphonic Organ Works Of Charles Arnould Tournemire for her Ph.D at Florida State University.

I have also heard about another Dissertation written by someone, I forget who, at Indiana University.

Since I have an abiding interest in both Bach and Tournemire as composers for the Church and their settings of melodies that the Church has in it's canon, it is only fair that I wish to use their music in interpreting the *message* for the calendar week.

Blessings And Peace Always,

Giovanni https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/tiphat.gif

Jan-07-2006, 22:54
Hello acc,

You brought up Reger - Yes, he is an important composer. He does manage to come throught the *Brahms-Nebel* (Brahmsian Fog) to make an imprint. It seems that after Brahms, too few composers made any significance. Of course, then one enters the minefield of *twelve-tone music*, Serial Atonality and the like. I won't even go there myself.


Giovanni https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif

Thomas Dressler
Jan-13-2006, 04:27
Interesting about Tournemire--he and Bach had similar motivations.

In terms of the French school, if you're using my criteria (and you don't have to, of course) of a composer's influence being important, there's Cesar Franck. Even though his genes were not French https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif he did have a huge influence on the French Romantic school, as did Widor.

(Incidently, it's interesting, isn't it, that another important French composer had Italian genes??? Lully. . .) https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Jan-13-2006, 10:43
Hi Thomas,

Overall, I'd say that Franck was somewhat more inspired and that Widor was somewhat more influential.

Most of the "Franckists" were somewhat at the margin (e.g. Ropartz) or even outside the organ crowd (e.g. d'Indy).

Widor (who, incidentally, had Hungarian roots) had more influence on Vierne and Dupré, the two most central figures in the French school of the first half of the 20th century. I know Vierne was also influenced by Franck, with whom he started his studies, and one can only guess how things would have evolved if Franck had lived a little longer. But as things are, I'd say he's more of a Widorian than a Franckist.

For Tournemire, it is of course the opposite. But even so, Widor has had some influence on Tournemire (though he would have hated to admit this in later life): the strict legato (advocated in Tournemire's treatise as much as by Widor and Dupré), double pedal lines, simultaneous playing with one hand on two manuals (a device he frequently used in l'Orgue Mystique) all are things he definitely learned from Widor. Even the use of plainchant, a key ingredient in Tournemire's oeuvre, goes back to Widor rather than Franck: the Symphonie Romane, probably Widor's most inspired work, must have influenced Tournemire in some way.

Let me finish with an anecdote: it is said that when a professorship for composition became vacant in the Paris Conservatoire in 1881, Franck urged Widor to use his political connections to get the position for him, and that Widor could then take over the organ class (which Franck held since 1872). Sadly, Widor decided no to follow up on this - a regrettable decision, we may now say: can you imagine what it would have been like if Widor (who eventually succeeded Franck in 1890) had taken charge of the organ class a decade earlier, and above all if Franck had become professor for composition!

Jan-13-2006, 10:58
Hi Tom https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif

Long time no see or hear or read https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif

Between Franck and Widor, Tournemire is the vanguard. I have played all of Franck's works and I love them them so thoroughly - Franck lead me to Tournemire. I guess I'll have to do research one day that will lead to the production of a dissertation topic about Bach and Tournemire; Bachs settings of choral melodies - Tournemires settings of Gregorian Chant and the specific Sunday Office for which Bach and Tournemire composed. That already sounds like a topic that will sprawl over thousands of pages https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/ooo.gif https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/nut.gif https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/shake.gif Hoo Boy! I get exhausted just thinking about it.


Giovanni https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wave.gif

ps. It's been a LONG time since I played anything by Lully https://www.magle.dk/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/banghead3.gif

Jan-13-2006, 11:30
Thomas Dressler....Nice website, some good pieces of the Harpsichord there, sounds really good.

Thomas Dressler
Jan-13-2006, 17:23
Haha, Giovanni, I've been glued to my computer, but not on the internet, playing with my new software! (Sibelius)

Your idea about Bach and Tournemire sounds very interesting. I, too, love Gregorian chant very much--have studied it in detail--and it is intriguing to think of a composer who was also so devoted to it that he used it extensively. I had a teacher in grad school, William Hays, who was very familiar with the French school and used to lecture on Tournemire's performances in America.

Thanks Gareth! I'm thinking about doing some more recording and changing my sound clips--they've been up for about a year and I'm getting tired of them, so maybe they'll change shortly. I'll let you know when I change them.