The organ: fit for expression? by Joris Verdin

by Joris Verdin | Het ORGEL | Year 96 | (2000) | Issue 5
Joris Verdin The organ: fit for expression?
Het ORGEL 96 (2000), nr. 5, 15-23 [summary]

Dynamic and agogic aspects play a major role in 19th-century expression. In thisarticle the first one of these is explored. Based on investigation of periodliterature we conclude that expressiveness, dynamics and the term ‘expression’can not be separated, even are quite inseparable. The importance that is attributed todynamics is not only documented in general publications about musical aesthetics (Lussy,Riemann), but also, and in the first place, in harmonium methods (Lickl,Lefébure-Wely, Mustel). This makes completely sense, as the harmonium is, among thekeyboard-instruments, particularly suited to control the parameter volume. Severalquotations from the above-mentioned literature show that there are general‘rules’ with respect to the dynamic curve of a musical sentence (the up- anddownwards movement of crescendo and diminuendo), and that individual musicians, onthe other hand, differ from each other, so each of them can individualize his playing.

With regard to the organ we conclude that Charles-Marie Widor represents a school withanother point of view: the nature of the instrument, it’s location and it’srepertoire demand a less flexible, more objective kind of expression, which is describedby Widor as ‘architecture’. Sigfrid Karg-Elert develops the notion of expressioninto an idea of transcendent art, in which controlling of dynamics isregarded as the most important individual means of expression.