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Organ Music of Karl Höller, Jeremy Thompson Plays 1948 Aeolian-Skinner / 2010 Quimby 74 ranks - [OAR-161] $15.98

Jeremy Thompson plays late Romantic works by Karl Höller (1907-87), president of the Munich Conservatory 1954-72 and 4th-generation organist in his Bavarian family. The 1948 Aeolian-Skinner at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Roanoke, Virginia, was rebuilt and enlarged in 2010 to 74 ranks by Michael Quimby, including handsome cases replacing plain grillework. 2-CDs for the Price of One CD
CD 1  
Ciacona, op. 54
Chorale-Passacaglia Die Sonn’ hat sich mit ihrem Glanz gewendet, op. 61
Chorale Variations Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen, op. 22, no. 1
Chorale Variations Jesu, meine Freude, op. 22, no. 2
CD 2
Triptychon on Victimae paschali, op. 64:
  Improvisation Amen
  Ricercar Dic nobis, Maria
  Postludium Amen. Alleluja

Karl Höller Organ Music
by Jeremy Thompson

Karl Höller was born on 25 July 1907 in Bamberg and was the fourth-generation organist in his family: his father was the organist at Bamberg Cathedral and his grandfather and great-grandfather had been organists at Würzburg Cathedral. He began musical studies with piano, organ, and cello lessons and was also a choirboy. He continued his studies at Würz­burg Conservatory and then at the Munich Academy of Music, studying composition with Joseph Haas. In 1933, Höller began his teaching career at the Munich Academy, then worked at the Frankfurt Hoch­schule für Musik 1937-1946. He was the president of the Munich Hoch­schule für Musik 1949-1972.

Höller wrote a relatively large number of compositions including two symphonies, two cello concertos, and several concertante works for solo instrument and chamber orchestra. His chamber music includes eight violin sonatas, six string quartets, as well as several other major works for various ensembles. His better-known works include the two sets of orchestral variations, the Sweelinck Variations, op. 56 (1950–51), and the Symphonic Variations (or Symphonic Fantasy) on a Theme of Girolamo Fresco­baldi, op. 20 (1935; revised 1956 and 1965), as well as the Cello Concerto No. 2, op. 50 (1949), and the Serenade for wind quin­tet, op. 42a (1947). His music for organ, the instrument that had played such an important role in the life of his family for generations as well as having provided his first introduction to music, is perhaps where his musical depth is seen most clearly.

Höller’s works for organ are of relatively large scale, with one exception: the first of two sets of chorale variations in op. 22. Each of his organ works is built around the idea of variation, either of an existing chorale melody or a recurring bass motive. Höl­ler’s harmonic ingenuity and gift for creating music with widely varied emo­tional affects come to the forefront with this type of formal structure. His writing for the organ shows a deep understanding of the almost inexhaustible timbral, spatial and spiritual possibilities of the instrument.

Höller’s Ciacona, op. 54, is an excellent introduction to his musical language. This work is based on a short four-bar motive built on chromatic descending minor thirds. In each of four major sections, the motive is transposed to a different tonal center. The extremely rich harmonic language contrasts with the static nature of the repeating motive and conveys a profound depth of expression. Masterful writing creates many opportunities for colorful registrations and changes of character.

The Choral-Passacaglia über Die Sonn’ hat sich mit ihrem Glanz gewendet, op. 61, interestingly combines the chorale prelude and the passacaglia. The opening section is a very free, impro­visatory setting of the first verse of the chorale. The middle section, a passacaglia based on the final few notes of the chorale melody, is followed by a  slower setting of the sixth verse of the chorale in a trio texture with the melody in the middle voice. The work ends with a return to the opening material set to the text of the seventh and final verse of the hymn. The text is translated:

The Sun has lost her splendour and has done her day’s work.
The dark night appears, giving rest to people, cattle and the whole world.
Lord, when I lay in the grave, and covered by the long night, turn your eyes on me,
That I may see your light in the sight of death.
Lead me with all godly people into the splendor of eternity.
You alone have chosen the day, whose light and clarity can’t be taken away by the night.

The first set of variations in Höller’s op. 22 on the chorale Helft mir Gottes Güte preisen, is much lighter in texture and mood when compared to his other organ compositions. Except for the final variation, the work is for manuals only, which is also a drastic change from the thickness of texture found in his other organ works. The translated text of the first verse:

    Help me to praise God’s goodness, you dear little children, with songs and other tunes to be always thankful to him, especially at the time when the year comes to an end, the sun is turned towards us, the New Year is not distant.

The second set of variations in op. 22 is based on the chorale Jesu, meine Freude, the first and last verses of which read in translation:

    Jesus, my joy, my heart’s pasture, Jesus, my treasure! Ah, how long, ah long has my heart suffered and longed for you! God’s lamb, my bridegroom, besides you on earth nothing shall be dearer to me.

    Hence, you spirits of sadness, for my Master of joy, Jesus, comes here. For those who love God, even their troubles must be pure sugar. Though I endure mockery and shame here already, nevertheless you stay with me even in sorrow, Jesus, my joy.

Perhaps this melody has been the basis of more organ works than any other, from Bach’s setting in the Orgelbüchlein to Karg-Elert’s Symphonic Chorale, op. 87, no. 2. In these chorale variations, Höller creates fantastic textures and harmonizations of the melody, evoking widely differing emotional impact for each verse. The work ends with a thrilling re-harmonization for full organ that is reminiscent of Reger.

The Triptychon on the Easter sequence Victimae paschali laudes, op. 64, Höller’s largest organ work, lasts almost half an hour. Höller prefaces:

    The theme of the introductory improvisation is based on the concise Amen (major second progression). Commencing in the manner of a hymn, the work branches out, via a pedal point, into the realms of the transcendental, in the course of which the mood for the dominating central section of the Triptychon is prepared. In the form of a ricercare (early form of the fugue), the sentiment for the Easter sequence is musically recaptured. Following an expressive introduction, the actual Easter events begin in which the plainsong melodies are authentically quoted. Reacting upon the exhortation: Dic nobis, Maria, quid vidisti in via? (Reveal, Mary, what have thine eyes witnessed in great wonder?) and the relieving words of response, Sepul­chrum Christi viventis et gloriam vidi resur­gentis… (I saw the sepulcher freed from death and the glory of the One who is risen…), the ecstatic Scimus Christum surrexisse a mortuis vere… (We know that the Saviour is truly risen from the dead…) continues to increase in excitement. The Amen. Alleluja with which this section ends is intoned quietly at first and then forcefully taken up in the concluding Postludium in a triple-­section toccata culminating in a jubilant climax.

Jeremy Thompson
Jeremy Thompson was born in Dipper Harbour, a small fishing village in New Brunswick, Canada. He furthered his studies at McGill University in Montreal, studying piano with Marina Mdivani (a student of Emil Gilels). He began organ studies while he was in Montreal, among the many fine instruments of that city. He was fortunate to continue his studies with Dr. John Grew.

In 2005, he earned a Doctorate of Music in performance from McGill, where he held two prestigious doctoral fellowships. He has appeared frequently with orchestras in­cluding the St. Petersburg State Academic Orchestra, the Sara­tov Philharmonic Orchestra, the Georgian National Orchestra, the Charlottesville Symphony, the North Caro­lina Symphony and the McGill Symphony Orches­tra. He has performed extensively throughout North America in both solo and chamber music settings, and has also completed three tours to the former Soviet Union.
Thompson enjoys perform­ing music from all eras and specializes in highly virtuosic repertoire. His recordings include piano music of Scriabin for MSR Classics and a recording on the McGill label of contemporary piano music by Quebec composers. His interests include 16th- and 17th-­century Italian organ music as well as opera conducting, including performances at James Madison University. He is Director of Music at First Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, Virginia.

The Organ
The organ at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roanoke, Virginia, was completed in 2010 as opus 66 of Quimby Pipe Organs of Warrens­burg, Missouri, and consists of 74 ranks of pipes situated in two chancel cases and the chambers behind them as well as in an antiphonal chamber at the liturgical West wall of the nave. These three locations housed the previous organ behind caseless grille work. New cases were designed by Terry Eason of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and built by QLF of Rocky Mount, Virginia.

The organ is controlled by a four-­manual, drawknob console built in the style of Aeolian-Skinner organs. That firm’s 58-rank opus 1093 of 1948 formerly occupied the chambers at St. John’s. Many of its pipes are incorporated in the Quimby organ, revoiced significantly to achieve better tonal effect in the church. They are joined by many new ranks and some recycled and revoiced from Aeolian-Skinner op. 1066 of 1945 built for Christ Church in New Haven, Connecticut. Consultant Gerre Hancock with St. John’s musicians David Charles Campbell and Michael Milam, Michael Quim­by, and voicer Eric Johnson, collaborated on tonal design and details. The mechanism is entirely new, with electro­pneumatic slider windchests of Blackinton design for almost all of the pipes.

The building was constructed in 1892 and contained a relocated organ built for the previous edifice in 1886 by an unknown craftsman. It was replaced by a second-hand residence organ in 1926, builder unknown. St. John’s was founded in 1849 and now occupies its third building.

St. John’s Episcopal Church, Roanoke, Virginia
Quimby Pipe Organs Inc., op. 66, 2010, 4 manuals, 74 ranks (*from Aeolian-Skinner op. 1093, 1948)

Great (16 ranks, 4" wp, 7" reeds)
16 Violone
16 Bourdon (Ped.)
8 First Diapason*
8 Second Diapason*
8 Violone (ext.)
8 Doppelflute
8 Harmonic Flute
4 Octave*
4 Hohlflöte
2-2/3 Twelfth
2 Fifteenth*
1-3/5 Seventeenth
1-1/3 Mixture IV*
16 Contra Trumpet (1-12 new)
8 Trumpet
4 Clarion*
Flute Tremolo
8 Tuba Mirabilis (Ant.)
Chimes (25 tubes, located in Ant.)
Bells (two zimbelsterns of 8 bells each, one in the front, one in the Ant.)
Great to Great 16, 4
Great Unison Off
Swell to Great 16, 8, 4
Choir to Great 16, 8, 4
Antiphonal to Great 16, 8, 4
Solo on Great
MIDI on Great

Swell (21 ranks, 5" wp, 7" reeds)
16 Gedeckt
8 Principal*
8 Chimney Flute (ext.)
8 Gamba*
8 Gamba Celeste*
4 Octave*
4 Nachthorn*
2-2/3 Nazard*
2 Blockflöte*
1-3/5 Tierce*
2 Mixture V
1 Scharf III
16 Contra Oboe (1–12 new)
8 Trompette*
8 Oboe* (ext.)
8 Vox Humana*
4 Clarion*
Swell to Swell 16, 4
Swell Unison Off
Choir to Swell 8
Antiphonal to Swell 16, 8, 4
All Swells to Swell
Solo on Swell
MIDI on Swell

(19 ranks, 5" wp, 6" reeds)
16 Flûte conique*
8 Geigen Principal*
8 Stopped Flute
8 Flûte conique (ext.)
8 Viola*
8 Viola Celeste
8 Dulciana*
8 Unda Maris* (TC)
4 Geigen Octave*
4 Harmonic Flute*
4 Stopped Flute*
2 Fifteenth (from Ch. Mixture)
2 Piccolo
1-1/3 Larigot
2 Mixture IV*
32 Contra Fagotto (1–12 new)
16 Fagotto* (ext.)
8 Fagotto (ext.)
8 Clarinet*
8 English Horn*
4 Fagotto (ext.)
8 Tuba Mirabilis (Ant.)
16 Trombone (Ped.)
8 Tromba (Ped.)
4 Tromba Clarion (Ped.)
Choir to Choir 16, 4
Choir Unison Off
Great to Choir 8
Swell to Choir 16, 8, 4
Antiphonal to Choir 16, 8, 4
Pedal to Choir 8
Solo on Choir
MIDI on Choir

Antiphonal (11 ranks, 5" wp)
16 Lieblich Gedeckt (TC)
8 Diapason
8 Gedeckt
8 Echo Viole*
8 Echo Viole Celeste*
4 Octave
4 Koppelflöte*
2-2/3 Twelfth
2 Fifteenth (Ch.)
8 Trumpet
8 Tuba Mirabilis (15" wp)
Antiphonal to Antiphonal 16, 4
Antiphonal Unison Off
Solo on Antiphonal
Harp (Deagan bars, EP action)
MIDI on Antiphonal

Antiphonal Pedal (1 rank, 5" wp)
32 Resultant (Ant. Ped.)
16 Bourdon
8 Bourdon

8 Bourdon (Ped.)
8 Gedeckt (Sw.)
8 Trumpet (Gt.)
8 Trompette (Sw.)
8 Oboe (Sw.)
8 English Horn (Ch.)
8 Clarinet (Ch.)
8 Fagotto (Ch.)
16 Tuba Mirabilis (TC) (Ant.)
16 Trombone (Ped.)
8 Tuba Mirabilis (Ant.)
8 Tromba (Ped.)
4 Tuba Clarion (Ant.)
4 Tromba Clarion (Ped.)
Harp (Ant.)
Celesta (Ant.)

Pedal (6 ranks, 5" wp, 7" reeds)
32 Contra Bourdon (1–5 Resultant)
16 Open Diapason
16 Violone (Gt.)
16 Bourdon (ext.)
16 Flûte conique (Ch.)
16 Gedeckt (Sw.)
10-2/3 Gross Quinte (Ch. Flûte con.)
8 Octave (ext.)
8 Violone (Gt.)
8 Bourdon (ext.)
8 Flûte conique (Ch.)
6-2/5 Gross Tierce
5-1/3 Quinte*
4 Choral Bass*
4 Bourdon (ext.)
3-1/5 Tierce (ext.)
5-1/3 Mixture IV
32 Theorb de Cornet
32 Contra Trombone (1-12, 57-97 new)
32 Contra Fagotto (Ch.)
16 Trombone* (ext.)
16 Contra Trumpet (Gt.)
16 Contra Oboe (Sw.)
16 Fagotto (Ch.)
8 Trombone (ext.)
8 Trumpet (Gt.)
8 Oboe (Sw.)
8 Fagotto (Ch.)
4 Trombone Clarion (ext.)
4 Clarion (Gt. 8 Trumpet)
4 Oboe (Sw.)
Great to Pedal 8, 4
Swell to Pedal 8, 4
Choir to Pedal 8, 4
Antiphonal to Pedal 8, 4
Solo on Pedal
MIDI on Pedal

Combination Action

Peterson ICS-4000 (256 memory levels)
Great thumb pistons 1–10, Cancel
Swell thumb pistons 1–10, Cancel
Choir thumb pistons 1–10, Cancel
Antiph. thumb pistons 1–10, Cancel
Solo thumb pistons 1–10, Cancel
Pedal thumb pistons 1–5 thumb pistons and 1–5 toe studs
General pistons 1–21 (thumb)
(22–40 only on toe studs)
Next piston sequencer
Previous piston sequencer
Set piston
General cancel piston
Toe studs in Aeolian-Skinner style

Crescendo and Expression Pedals

General crescendo pedal (60 positions, 3 adjustable; 1 standard)
Swell expression pedal
Choir expression pedal
Antiphonal expression pedal


Great to Pedal (thumb and toe paddle)
Swell to Pedal (thumb and toe paddle)
Choir to Pedal (thumb and toe paddle)
Ant. to Pedal (thumb and toe paddle)
Swell to Great (thumb and toe paddle)
Choir to Great (thumb)
Ant. to Great (thumb and toe paddle)
Swell to Choir (thumb)
32 Contra Bourdon (thumb and toe)
32 Trombone (thumb and toe)
32 Fagotto (thumb and toe paddle)
Sforzando (thumb and toe paddle)
All Swells to Swell (thumb)
Reed/Mixture ventils (on/off thumb and toe paddle)
Manual transfer (thumb)
Toe paddles in Aeolian-Skinner style
MIDI: Peterson ICS-4000

Organ Music of Karl Höller, Jeremy Thompson Plays 1948 Aeolian-Skinner / 2010 Quimby 74 ranks
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