With its diverse sonorities, the renowned 1976 Grönlund organ in the Hedvig Eleonora Church gives life to a programme of known and unknown treasures from the
famous organ piece ever written is without doubt the Toccata and Fugue
in D minor by Johann Sebastian Bach. Its challenging introductory fanfares
and the spinning theme of the Fugue have with time become universal musical
signals of the same dignity as the first motifs from Beethovenís ìFür
Eliseî or Fifth symphony. It is therefore an intriguing musicological irony
that some of the most prominent stylistical features of the work have caused
musicologists to question whether Bach himself really is the composer!
Could the piece be written by another member of Bachís musical circle?
Regardless of the answer to this riddle Bach is universally accepted as
the greatest of all composer of organ music, due to the scope and quality
of his work.
César Franck is often credited with being the father of the symphonic style in French organ writing. Among his twelve major organ works, the Pièce Héroïque stands out as one of the most concentrated examples of the style. Franck was organist in the church of Ste Clotilde in Paris, where his source of inspiration was the new symphonic organ by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll. Pièce héroïque, though, is written directly for the organ of the Palais du Trocadéro, built by the same master.
At once ground-breaking and entertaining, Charles Ivesí îVariations on Americaî is the only major work for organ by its composer. Ives, widely regarded as the first true modernist in American music, wrote the piece at the tender age of sixteen. On the surface, the piece falls neatly into the tradition of virtuoso arrangements of patriotic songs (ìAmericaî being a song set to the same melody as ìGod save the Queenî), but the piece already reveals the typical traits of Ivesí style: daring experiments in free tonality combined with traditional structures, creating an unmistakable blend of humour and seriousness of expression.
One of César Franckís successors at the organ in Ste Clotilde was Gabriel Pierné, a prolific composer but with a small output of organ music. Most frequently heard are his Trois pièces op. 29, a collection of three tasteful Romantic character pieces featuring a Prélude where a gently flowing melody line is carried by harp-like broken chords,a Cantilène where the solo Trumpet sings out in a sweet ìsong without wordsî, and a Scherzando de concert as the lively and stirring finale.
is one of the most singular personalities in organ history, through his
enormous output and stylisic breadth. His use of the late Romantic musical
idiom today associated with the style of the old cinema-organ is very evident
in his Three New Impressions op 142, pieces that seem to be composed with
an American-style cinema
Toccataî is something of a brand name in organ music. This piece, actually
the last movement from Charles-Marie Widorís Symphony no. 5, has become
for many the ultimate processional music for big church feasts. The Toccata
is built up in a way that is typical of the virtuoso French Toccata: rapid
perpetuum-mobile-like movements in the hands, accompanying a majestic melody
on the pedals, drawing on the full tonal resources of the organ.