Fingering and pedalling in 19th-century organ music by Ewald Kooiman

by Ewald Kooiman | Het ORGEL | Year 100 | (2004) | Issue 3

Ewald Kooiman Fingering and pedalling in 19th-century organ music
Het ORGEL 100 (2004), nr. 3, 5-15 [summary]

It is generally accepted that finger substitution was quite normal in 19th-century organ music. Jacques van Oortmerssen opposes this view in his book Organ Technique (Göteborg 2002). He refers to Studien für Harmonium by August Reinhard, but Reinhard does not restrict substitution to special occasions. Besides, it is questionable whether a harmonium school is applicable to organ technique. Van Oortmerssen points to the magazine L’Orgue (1988), in which Marie-Louise Jaquet discussed César Franck’s fingering of Bach’s compositions. Jaquet, however, mentions that Franck used substitution often, as does Karen Hastings, who later studied the same material more thoroughly (The American Organist, 1990). The organ schools of Friedrich Wilhelm Schütze and August Gottfried Ritter confirm that substitution was normal; the organ school of Johannes Worp underlines this. In fact, there is no evidence to support Van Oortmerssen’s hypothesis.
Another point that is brought forward by Van Oortmerssen in his book is that the heel was only used sparingly in 19th-century organ music. Indeed, the tendency is to use the toe, but the heel was used frequently as well, as is shown by the organ schools of Ritter (whom Van Oortmerssen quotes insufficiently), by César Franck’s pedalling of Bach’s organ works, and by the organ transcriptions that the Dutch organist Van Eyken made of pieces from Bach’s Wohltemperierte Clavier. In short: the reality of pedalling 19th-century organ music is more complicated than Van Oortmerssen suggests as well.