writes James Hildreth in The American Organist, January 2008, "Here is a fascinating comparison through excellent performances of two fine instruments representing diametrically opposing tonal styles, sounding in the same acoustically gratifying space . . . Timothy Edward Smith is a colorist who elicits each instrument's copious array of sonic possibilities . . . His playing is secure, assertive, energetic, and imaginative. The usual excellent work of Raven's technicians captures the unique qualities of each instrument . . ."
CD 1 The Kimball Organ
Camille Saint-Saëns: Carnival of the Animals
Transcribed for organ by Timothy Edward Smith
The Lion · Hens and Cocks · Hyenas · Turtles ·
The Elephant · Kangaroos · Aquarium · Mules ·
The Cuckoo · Aviary · Pianists · Fossils · The Swan · Final
Charles Edgar Ford: A Fantasy of Moods
Pietro Yon: Andante Rustico (mvt. 1) from Sonata No. 2 Cromatica
Frank Howard Warner: Sea Sketch
H. Leroy Baumgartner: Idyl, Op. 5, No. 2
Seth Bingham: Baroques Suite
Overture · Rondo Ostinato · Sarabande · Rhythmic Trumpet · Voluntary
CD 2 The Rudolf von Beckerath Organ
Felix Mendelssohn: Sonata No. 1 in f minor, Op. 65
Susanne van Soldt manuscript: Dance XVII, Brabanschen ronden dans ofte Brand
Dietrich Buxtehude: Ciacona in C minor, BuxWV 159
Johannes Brahms: 3 of 11 Chorale Preludes, Op. 122:
O welt, ich muss dich lassen, No. 3
O wie selig seid ihr doch, ihr frommen, No. 6
Herzlich thut mich erfreuen, No. 4
Jakob Praetorius: Partita Was kann uns kommen an für Not
Nikolaus Hanff: Von Gott will ich nicht lassen
Nikolaus Hanff: Ein’ feste burg ist unser Gott
J. S. Bach: Praeludium in G, BWV 550
Jehan Alain: Le Jardin Suspendu
Calvin Hampton: Fanfares (1977) from Suite I
Recently restored, the 1931 Kimball organ of four manuals at First Congregational Church in Columbus has returned to the musical life of that Ohio city and the musical experiences of the church, taking its rightful place as a coequal with the superb 1972 Rudolf von Beckerath 3m organ in the West end of the building. Timothy Edward Smith, Minister of Music at the church since 2003, plays the two organs.
Notes on the Music
Camille Saint-Saëns' Carnival of the Animals is a set of orchestral character pieces, each of which is meant to describe a particular animal, usually by mimicking the sounds it makes or characterizing the way it moves or carries itself. The piece is scored for two solo pianos and a small orchestra of flute, piccolo, clarinet, xylophone, glass harmonica (usually replaced these days by celesta or glockenspiel in performance), and strings. This Carnival is a humorous, often parodistic work. Saint-Saëns allowed the piece to be performed only twice during his lifetime, likely because he feared the work would hurt his reputation as a serious composer. Only the movement The Swan was published before the composer's death; that particular movement became a stunningly popular work with cellists and audiences alike, remaining one of Saint-Saëns' most successful pieces for many years.
A few highlights: In Tortoises, Saint-Saëns makes clever use of parody to suggest the slow-motion torpor of these creatures by quoting the famous can-can melody from Jacques Offenbach's Orpheus in the Underworld. Normally performed at breakneck tempo, the tune here is played painfully slowly by the pedals. Occasional use of stumbling dissonances adds to the picture of this painfully poky reptile. Elephants quotes from Berlioz's Valse des Sylphes. Personages with Long Ears leaves little doubt that these "personages" are donkeys. Pianists: well, what can be said? Some pianists are beastlike! In Fossils, Saint-Saëns sardonically interweaves numerous overly-familiar melodies, including two French nursery rhymes (J'ai du bon tabac and Ah vous dirais-je maman) and a snippet of the aria Una voce poco fa from Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville, and his own Danse Macabre into a most curious entity. Saint-Saëns evidently felt these melodies were so famous that they had become museum fossils, worthy only of residing among dinosaur bones. Finale is a merry closer which recapitulates many bits of the previous movements. Suggestions of The Lion, Fossils, Hyenas, Hens and Cocks, Kangaroos, Cuckoo, and Pianists pass quickly in succession. The Personages with Long Ears get their two pennies’ worth just before the final chords.
Charles Edgar Ford (1881-1961) served as organist of several churches in and around London, England, and as assistant organist of Southwark Cathedral. He composed eleven organ works that were published by 1932. A Fantasy of Moods was published in 1915 in the United States, and seems intended as concert repertoire, providing many opportunities to explore myriad colorful registrations in the piano and mezzo ranges as available on many organs of the day. As an examiner (from 1920) for Trinity College of Music, London, Ford was able to indulge his love of travel; his interaction with young Indian princes and princesses boosted his fund of anecdotes. He was a distinguished-looking man of average height, with a fairly deep voice, who was meticulous about appearance and speech. Strong minded and independent, he was well read, and enjoyed company and playing bridge.
While he continued to be an active composer, it was in the capacity of an examiner that he had first visited Australia in 1917. Ford is said to have been a divorcee and, in 1926, to have married in South Africa Judith Beryl Keane (1894-1979), a poet from Western Australia. In 1941, they took up residence in Perth where he was organist at St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral and gave numerous recitals. For the next twenty years his examining tours took him to Asia, Africa and New Zealand.
Romantic and conservative in style, and displaying fine craftsmanship, Ford's compositions included many pieces for piano and organ, solo and part-songs, as well as some larger choral works, such as his two Masses with organ, and several cantatas with orchestra, notably Zuleika and The River. Inspired by the Swan River, the latter cantata was a setting-for soprano, mixed chorus and orchestra-of words by his wife. He also set some of her poems as solo songs with piano. His chief orchestral compositions were Springtime in Puppet Land, Bushland Magic, Strange Nullabor, Tawarri, the suites Summertime and Rhapsody of God, and an uncompleted symphony.
Survived by his wife, and by the son and daughter of his first marriage, Ford died on 19 July 1961. The University of Western Australia, the State Library of Western Australia, and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Sydney, hold most of his compositions. Through their estate, the Fords established a fund to support musical activities at the University of Western Australia.
Pietro Yon (1886-1943) emigrated to New York City in 1907 as a church musician and composer, leaving the post of assistant organist at The Vatican. His reputation as a flawless performer and teacher eventually propelled him from a lower Manhattan Italian parish to Saint Patrick's Cathedral in midtown. His most famous piece, Gesu Bambino, has been scored for solo and/or chorus in multiple languages and has sold millions of copies. Sonata Cromatica is in a far more dramatic style, and employs a wide range of the Kimball organ's ensembles. It was published in 1917 as the second of four organ sonatas composed by Yon, who was prolific in producing organ works.
Little is known of Frank Howard Warner, an American who was born in 1875 and who taught piano and organ in New York. Six of his organ compositions were published in America between 1924 and 1937. He inscribed Sea Sketch to T. Tertius Noble, organist of York Minster in England, who later served Saint Thomas Church, New York City. Sea Sketch is programmatic: using musical notes to create a mood or picture. In this case, the vast surging of the sea is suggested with deep-toned stops on the Kimball organ. Warner copied these words of Longfellow in the score: “It is the sea, it is the sea, in all its vague immensity, fading and darkening in the distance! Silent, majestical, and slow, the white ships haunt it to and fro.”
Leroy Baumgartner (1891-1968) was a professor of music theory at Yale University and longtime organist at Church of the Redeemer (Congregational) in New Haven. Idyl was written for Lynnwood Farnam, a phenomenal American concert organist during the first part of the twentieth century. Many of the distinctive Kimball stops (French horn, harp, flutes, strings) are specified by Baumgartner to be used in performing the work.
Seth Bingham (1882-1972) prolifically composed orchestral, choral, chamber music, organ works, and songs throughout a distinguished career in and near New York City as professor of music at Columbia University for 40 years and as organist at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church. A student of Horatio Parker and Harry Jepson at Yale, he subsequently taught there for a decade. In Paris, he studied with Vincent d’Indy, Alexandre Guilmant, and Charles-Marie Widor. His Baroques Suite, op. 41, was published in 1943.
Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) was playing J. S. Bach’s music on Goethe’s parlor piano during several visits beginning in 1821, reflecting a great and growing interest in older music and especially a championship of Bach among certain cultural circles. A book on the old master had been published in 1802 (Johann Nicolaus Forkel Über J. S. Bachs Leben, Kunst, und Kunstwerke) after three decades of research, during which Carl Friedrich Fasch, who had been a pupil of C. P. E. Bach, founded the Berliner Singakademie in 1791 to explore earlier choral works, especially those of J. S. Bach. Goethe became greatly interested in Bach’s music and in the young Mendelssohn, whose teacher in Berlin, Carl N. Zelter, was custodian of the music library of the Berliner Singakademie. Many Bach manuscripts resided there, and Bach Motets, the B-minor Mass, and other Bach works were sung under Zelter’s direction, and under Fasch before his death in 1800, by which time the Akademie choir had one hundred members. Mendelssohn’s wealthy aunt, Sarah Itzig Levy, was a student of Bach’s son, W. F. Bach, and she sang in the Akademie, played the music of J. S. Bach, and influenced Felix’s musically formative years. Sarah and her sisters frequently performed J. S. Bach in Sarah’s home, even after she moved to Vienna where Beethoven attended her salon. Mendelssohn took up this interest and reflected it throughout his life and work, mounting at age 20 a watershed event in musical history, the revival of the Bach St Matthew Passion in March 1829 in Berlin. Prior to this event, music rarely received public performances beyond the era in which it was composed, especially in major cultural centers, and the St. Matthew Passion had not been performed since Bach’s death in 1750, and probably not outside of Leipzig where Bach last directed it in 1736 as cantor of St. Thomas Church.
It was this seminal interest in earlier music, and specifically interest in the music of Bach with Mendelssohn at the vanguard, that led to an ever increasing interest in early music. It also led to what became known as the Organ Revival Movement at the turn of the 20th century and the eventual creation by Rudolf von Beckerath of the organ installed in 1971 and finished in 1972 at First Congregational Church in Columbus.
Incorporating some forms common to Bach’s organ music, Mendelssohn composed the six organ sonatas for a London publisher between 1839 and 1845, and they have become both beloved and recognized as ideal vehicles to demonstrate the unique characteristics of the pipe organ.
Susanne van Soldt(c. 1599) This Dutch lady collected tunes beginning ca. 1570 and copied them into her music book, or had them copied by scribes. The book preserves many of these works, though the identities of the composers are lost. Dance No. 18, Brabanschen ronden dans ofte Brand, was copied into the book ca. 1599 by an English scribe, and it is played on some of the Beckerath’s sounds that imitate early instruments.
Dietrich Buxtehude (1637-1707) was organist at three churches named for St. Mary in what is now northern Germany: Helsingborg (taking his father’s post), Helsingør (spelled Elsinore by Shakespeare, where Kronborg castle is the setting for Hamlet), and finally in the very large and tall, vertical Gothic, brick church in Lübeck where he remained for 38 years. So great is his reputation as organist and composer that the Danish and the Germans each claim him as a native, and dispute his birthplace: if born in Helsingborg, he was born Danish; if in Oldesloe, he was still born Danish, for the Duchy of Holstein was then under Danish control, though it later became German. He spelled his name in the Danish manner, Diderich, but, working in Lübeck, he later Germanized his name to Dieterich or Dietrich. His fame as a composer and organist spread wide, attracting the famous visit by J. S. Bach who reportedly walked 250 miles each way from Arnstadt to visit this person whom he probably regarded as the leader among organists of his day, and whom we regard today as the “father” of the North German style of organ composition. Buxtehude wrote a voluminous body of music, including a vast amount for the organ. The organs of the area and time of Buxtehude were primary models upon which Rudolf von Beckerath took inspiration in creating his mid-20th-century instruments.
Johannes Brahms (1833-1897) composed eleven chorale preludes for the organ in 1846 as his very last, and they were published posthumously. He composed only four other works for the organ.
Jakob Praetorius (1586-1651) and his contemporary, Heinrich Scheidemann (1596-1663), were north German students who traveled to Amsterdam to study music with Jan Pieterszoon Sweelinck, and thus they provided the connection between the developing style of organ playing dominated by Sweelinck in Amsterdam with the evolution of the North German style. Returning to their native Hamburg from Amsterdam, Jakob Praetorius became organist of St. Peter’s Church there, and Heinrich Scheidemann succeeded his father as organist at St. Catherine’s Church. They became the best known organists in northern Germany, attracting many students and thus promulgating the influence of Sweelinck into the organ culture of the area. Sixteen of Jakob Praetorius’ compositions for organ survive, including six works based on chorale tunes. The Chorale Was kann uns kommen an für Not is based on Psalm 23 and has four verses, each in a contrasting style.
Nikolaus Hanff (1661-1713) was an organist and music teacher in Hamburg, then moved to Eutin as organist of the house chapel of the Prince-Bishop of Lübeck, but returned to Hamburg as organist when the Bishop died and the Eutin house was closed. He became organist at Schleswig Cathedral but died a few months after taking the post. Six works, all chorale preludes, survive.
J. S. Bach (1685-1750): The Praeludium in G, BWV 550 may be one of the few works that survive from the period of Bach’s first employment as a church organist, at the New Church in Arnstadt, 1703-1707, but more likely it was composed while he worked briefly at St. Blasius Church in Mühlhausen, 1707-08, shortly after he returned from the long walk to meet Buxtehude in Lübeck. For that trip, Bach took what was to be a four-week absence from his Arnstadt post in October 1705, but he did not return until January 1706. That is forgiven now in Arnstadt, where the church has been renamed the Johann Sebastian Bach Church and a replica of the organ that Bach knew there (built in 1703 by Johann Friedrich Wender) was reconstructed in the year 2000 in the second of two, stacked, West galleries. Like First Congregational Church, Columbus, the Bach Church in Arnstadt has two organs: the lower gallery contains a 1913 Steinmeyer Romantic-orchestral organ, now enlarged.
Jehan Alain (1911-1940) composed exceptional and original music during his short life, including 140 works for piano, organ, chamber music, songs, choirs, and orchestra. Le Jardin suspendu was created at his home in October 1934, aided by a small pipe organ which he had built for practice and composing. The son of an organist, he, his brother Olivier, and his sisters Odile and Marie-Claire thoroughly understood the organ. Their father had built a pipe organ at their home in Saint-Germain-en-Laye near Paris and the family learned to play on it. His sister, Marie-Claire Alain, became a world famous concert organist and a great ambassador for Jehan’s music. He was killed at age 29 defending France in WWII, and left a widow and three children.
Calvin Hampton (1938-1984) composed hymns contained in most American hymnals, as well as orchestral and chamber music, and much choral liturgical music, as well as both liturgical and secular organ music. A native of Kittaning, Pennsylvania and raised in Ravenna, Ohio, he received musical training at Oberlin Conservatory and Syracuse University. Hampton was the organist of Calvary Episcopal Church in New York from 1963 until his death. Fanfares, composed in 1977, was published as the first movement of Suite No. 1 in 1979.
First Congregational Church, Columbus, and Its Organs
The First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, was founded in 1852 by Presbyterian abolitionists. Within a generation they called to a 38-year tenure as pastor The Rev. Washington Gladden, a leading figure in the social gospel movement. A new edifice honoring Dr. Gladden’s memory and designed by John Russell Pope was built in 1931 at Broad and Ninth Streets. Church member Alice Martin honored the memory of her husband Walter by fully funding the purchase of a four-manual Kimball organ for the new sanctuary. Walter was long-time treasurer of First Church and a prominent Columbus realtor. Both were civic leaders, Alice pursuing her passions for education and classical music in the community.
Opus 7066 was constructed for $34,000 and was dedicated in December 1931. Designs for the organ were completed by Glenn Grabill, music director, in consultation with Robert Pier Eliot of the Kimball firm. Eliot had been a choir boy at First Church during the ministry of Washington Gladden. Pipes are distributed in the west chamber above the chancel, all placed behind expression shutters. The Echo organ is on the west wall of the gallery. Chimes are all that remain of the Austin organ that was installed in the congregation’s previous building, its second, on Capitol Square.
W. W. Kimball built a manufacturing plant in Chicago in 1888 which, by 1922, was truly “The Largest Piano and Organ Factory in the World.” Kimball craftsmanship was evident in exquisite pipe-making and battleship construction techniques from the start. New mechanical designs introduced in 1918 made Kimball organs more reliable, increasing their desirability. Instruments were installed in theatres, churches, civic auditoriums and schools coast to coast through the 1920s. Artistic developments of the “Kimball sound” in the late 1920s established the firm as an industry leader in clear principal choruses, fiery reed ensembles, and distinctive orchestral colors. As the twentieth century wore on, however, the mechanical complexity of switching, the overall scale of the First Church organ, and some water damage compromised the organ’s reliability. Too, despite the Kimball’s balanced tonal scheme, the organ revival movement represented an artistic hunger to pursue music of earlier periods and to realize ever more authentic performance ideals. These trends persuaded the church to engage Rudolf von Beckerath to build a three-manual mechanical action organ in the rear gallery. Completed in 1972, the organ brought a new energy to the city’s cultural life, and redefined the church’s musical life as the choir moved to the gallery. The Kimball remained in place, used on rare occasions.
Rudolf von Beckerath (1907-1976), at the age of five years, attended an organ recital played on the new E. F. Walcker organ at St. Michael’s Church in Hamburg and declared his intention to become an organbuilder. In 1929, he entered an organbuilding apprenticeship in the Paris workshop of Victor Gonzales, having studied mechanical engineering, fine woodworking, and visual design. He worked for a year in the Frøbenius shop in Denmark, and returned to Gonzales in 1932. As international relations roiled in Europe, he returned to Hamburg in 1936 and, as a consultant, supervised construction by the Sauer firm of a three-manual organ of 29 stops in Othmarschen near Hamburg, and voiced it himself. In November 1938, he took a post at the church ministry in Berlin as an expert for organs and bells, then was called into the armed forces in 1941. Taken prisoner by Americans in 1945, he was released in 1946 and resumed his work for the church ministry. Thus grew his intimate acquaintance with many historic organs, including several built by Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), as his work required measuring and describing all of the organs in Protestant churches in Lower Saxony. He established his own organ firm in 1949 and emerged as a leader within the Organ Reform Movement (which had begun as the century turned), embracing slider windchests with tracker key action, casework optimizing tonal focus, and tonal characteristics in support of clarity and polyphony. His large organs imported into North America, beginning in 1957 with the organ built for Trinity Lutheran Church in Cleveland, have had a profound effect on the evolution of organ playing and organ building.
During the 1990s, church member Jean MacNevin gave funds to keep portions of the Kimball operating. She honored the memory of her late husband with a generous bequest at the time of her death for the purpose of restoring the Kimball organ. Long-time members of First Church, its choirs and committees, the MacNevins were both chemists, and William MacNevin chaired the chemistry department at The Ohio State University. The bequest enables the church to enjoy two independent and diverse instruments. The Organ Restoration Committee members were Rick Sayre, Betsy Hubbard, Frank Hussey, Bob Kutschbach, David Loy, Jan Wade, Amos White, and Jim Pohlman. Jack Bethards, a San Francisco organbuilder, served the committee as consultant.
Peebles-Herzog, Inc., of Columbus restored the organ. They have maintained the First Church organs since 1988 and they service more than 270 organs in five states. Michael Herzog was introduced to organs as a chorister in St. Timothy’s Church, Massillon, where G. Dene Barnard (First Church’s organist choirmaster emeritus) was organist and choirmaster. He pursued organbuilding with Hubert G. Dörfler, later establishing his own company with Sam Peebles in 1976. Members of his firm who restored the Kimball are Molly Herzog, Tom Jones, Dewey Rogers, Kevin Smith, Neil Palmer, Joe Schultz, Jerry Meyer, Stanley Krider, Ben Bechtel, Debra Ford, Michael Lauffer, Jane Hampton, Robert Lezenby, & Bryan Peluso. Only the switching system was revised to a solid state design. All other aspects of the organ were returned to 1931 standards.