Geert Bierling: A plea for rehabilitation of playing of ‘transcriptions’

by Geert Bierling | Het ORGEL | Year 95 | (1999) | Issue 2


Geert Bierling A plea for rehabilitation of playing of ‘transcriptions’
het ORGEL 95 (1999), nr. 3, 22-26 [summary]

Playing of ‘transcriptions’ of music not originally written for the organ on theorgan is not popular in the Netherlands. However, the recovery of some concert programsrevealed that transcriptions were played in the 19th century. Interest in transcriptionshas decreased for at least two reasons: the change of the organ building style in the1950s and 1960s, which included a rejection of the electropneumatic organ and itsrepertoire; and the fact that making and playing transcriptions became the occupation ofincompetent organists. It is time to rehabilitate the transcription. By studying andplaying non-organ music on the organ, the organist’s knowledge of playing‘real’ organ music can be increased; playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue,for example, requires a certain ‘orchestral’ way of making music, which can bevery useful in the outer movements of Alain’s Trois Dances. Furthermore, music-makingcan also be made more enjoyable by this approach. Other advantages of making and playingtranscriptions are the widening of the organ repertoire and the possibility of moreattractive programming of organ concerts. Organ transcriptions should be made to thehighest standards. They have to sound like ‘real’ organ music (as doesBach’s brilliant transcription of Vivaldi’s Concerto for the two violins, celloand orchestra). The style of the transcription has to fit the style of the organ to beplayed (don’t play a Bach transcription by Reger on a baroque organ) and has to beconsistent.