The ‘artistically inherent motivation’ of organ music (discussion)  by Hans Fidom

by Hans Fidom | Het ORGEL | Year 98 | (2002) | Issue 3
Hans Fidom The ‘artistically inherent motivation’ of organ music (discussion)
Het ORGEL 98 (2002), nr. 3, 31-40 [summary]

Hans Fidom opened issue 2001/6 of het ORGEL with an editorial in which he stated that interpretingancient music is a demanding task. Because he his convinced that the ‘artisticcommunication’ with the audience should be as transparent as possible, Fidomstressed that improvising in the style of one’s own time deserves attention aswell.

Peter Ouwerkerk and Sietze de Vries reacted. Ouwerkerkthinks that musicians who ‘tell a musical story of their own’ while playingancient music should not be condemned. Fidom replied that this is not what hemeant. He agrees with Ouwerkerk that acting as an autonomous artist may offervaluable opportunities to organists. Sietze de Vries argued for improvising inancient styles. He asked whether the development of the organ should not beconsidered closed. Organists are, in De Vries’s opinion, craftsmen, who shoulddeliver ‘functional quality’. Fidom answered that his perspective isdifferent: he thinks that an organist, especially in the 21st century, is anartist in the first place, who will for this reason highly value autonomousmusic making. Furthermore, the quality of his improvisation in an old style isalmost bound to be less convincing than the quality of, for example, originalmusic in that style. Consequently, improvising in ancient styles should occurpreferably within an educational context: it can be an excellent way to getacquainted with ancient organs and ancient ways of composing.

Fidom interviewed organist Stef Tuinstra and organbuilder Richold Hosper in order to estimate the practical value of his points ofview. Both Tuinstra and Hosper appear to be interested in scientific aspects oforgan music and organ building, but it is equally clear that they use this asone of the building stones of their personal perspective on organ culture. Theyare artists, but that does not imply that they don’t take history seriously.

Fidom argues that historicism andmaking-music-as-an-artist are equally important ways of playing the organ. Thiswould open the way to respect for scientific research by musicologists andphysicists as well as the artistic aspects of music as such. To Fidom, this isone of the main conditions necessary for the organ culture of the 21st centuryto become based on the best music made on the best instruments.