Writes Robert Matthew-Walker in International Record Review, February. 2010: “This is an important disc, and not merely for organ enthusiasts . . . an impressive and, in its way, rather moving listening experience . . . Jack Mitchener's performances are very good indeed . . . a rare treat. The recording quality is superb, perfectly recessed, enabling every nuance
to be clearly heard.”
Jack Mitchener makes the very first recording of the three-movement Concerto in G minor for solo organ by Graun (contemporary of C. P. E. Bach) and plays other works on the largest existing pipe organ built by America’s first organbuilder, David Tannenberg (1728-1804), at Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The organ wind for this recording was raised entirely by human pumping of the bellows, now more than two centuries old.
Bernardo Pasquini: Toccata in D minor
Giovanni Paolo Cima: Canzona Quarta: La Pace
Girolamo Frescobaldi: Toccata 1 (from Il secondo libro di toccate, canzone . . .)
Johann Pachelbel: Ciacona in F minor
Johann Sebastian Bach: Pastorella in F, BWV 590
Gottfried August Homilius: Schmücke dich, o liebe Seele
Homilius: Wer nur den lieben Gott
J. S. Bach: Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 730
J. S. Bach: Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier, BWV 731
Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach: Sonata in D, Wq 70/5 in three movements
Franz Josef Haydn: Flötenuhrstücke
Carl Heinrich or Johann Gottlieb Graun: Concerto in G minor First Recording
The Larger Tannenberg Organ at Old Salem
David Tannenberg (1728–1804) was America’s first native-trained builder of pipe organs—he built at least 40. Emigrating to America in 1749, he settled with fellow members of the Moravian Church in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, working as a joiner.
Tannenberg synthesized a German-American style of pipe organ that was preserved and promulgated through succeeding generations of organbuilders in Pennsylvania. Tannenberg’s style was based on characteristics of organs located in the central German area where J. S. Bach (1685–1750) grew up and worked. Fading with time in Germany, these characteristics remained intact in Pennsylvania for another century following Bach’s death.
This style of organbuilding arrived in America in 1733 with Johann Gottlob Klemm (1690–1762), the son of a schoolmaster, organist, and organbuilder who worked in and near Dresden. Klemm became disillusioned with his study of theology in Freiberg and Leipzig, so he worked as an organbuilder in Dresden from about 1710, possibly taking clients of his father when the elder Klemm died at about that time. No evidence has been found of Klemm’s training as an organbuilder, yet we know that he grew up in a household supported by organ playing and organbuilding, and the places where he studied, lived, and traveled were filled with organs and builders.
Circa 1725, Klemm moved his family to Herrnhut and joined the Moravian religious community founded there in 1722 under the protection of Count Nicolaus Ludwig von Zinzendorf, Klemm’s wife having been a follower of pietism for at least 15 years. After a dispute with the Moravians ca. 1730, Klemm joined the Schwenkfelders (also protected by Zinzendorf) and moved to Philadelphia in 1733. There, he Anglicised his name to become John Clemm or Clem and built an organ for the Swedish church ca. 1738 and a three-manual organ for Trinity Church, New York, installed in 1741 and amended by Clemm several times over two decades.
After working in America for about 25 years, he reconciled with the Moravians in 1757 and moved to Bethlehem in late November. By mid-January of 1758, the 67-year-old organbuilder took as his assistant the greatly skilled woodworker and respected David Tannenberg, age 29. The two worked together until Clemm’s death on May 5, 1762. In those four years and three months, Tannenberg became America’s first organbuilder to have been trained by a professional on American soil, and subsequently, to have produced a substantial body of work, all of high quality.
Perplexing is the paucity of evidence available to determine which characteristics of Tannenberg’s organs were derived directly from Clemm’s methods and style, and which were taken from other sources or synthesized by Tannenberg. Of the four, possibly five, organs they built together, none exists to examine, nor does any earlier organ built by Clemm.
One remnant of an organ that may have been built by Clemm was found in the 1980s by historian and Pennsylvania organbuilder Raymond J. Brunner. This organ windchest is identical in design and execution to those built by Tannenberg. However, correspondence and other documents imply that Clemm’s instruments were trouble-prone and possibly of poor construction, unlike Tannenberg’s organs which are universally of first-class craftsmanship. If Tannenberg did not learn all that he knew from Clemm, how did he achieve such fine instruments? His talents as a craftsman and his understanding of the organ, as well as his observations of the few imported organs in Pennsylvania, led him to develop the techniques to create superb instruments.
One imported and substantial organ he surely saw in this formative period was consecrated in 1751 at St. Michael’s Lutheran Church in Philadelphia and built with “20 full registers” by Johann Adam Schmahl (1704–1757) of Heilbronn, Germany. The “missionary” pastor of the church, reporting to his superiors in Halle, wrote in 1752 a detailed account of his acquisition of the organ. He disclosed a concerted effort to avoid Clemm as the builder and describes Clemm’s organs negatively, as a “noisy patchwork.” Nevertheless, after the Schmall organ arrived, the congregation secured Clemm to complete the installation and tune the organ, no other skilled person being available. Tannenberg maintained the highly regarded organ for at least 20 years after 1770.
During Tannenberg’s training with Clemm, a musical theorist in Lobenstein, Germany, Georg Andreas Sorge (1703–1778), was preparing a treatise on the construction of organ pipes. Key in this treatise was a method of graduating the diameters of the pipes (the process, called “scaling,” relates the diameter to the length of a pipe, and all of the pipes to each other). Sorge was also the court organist in Lobenstein and the fifteenth person admitted to the Societät der musikalischen Wissenschaften, following the fourteenth member, J. S. Bach. Members were accomplished musical theorists who shared information and writings.
Following Clemm’s death, Tannenberg was coming into his own as an independent organbuilder and acquired a copy of Sorge’s treatise in 1764. All of Tannenberg’s organs follow Sorge’s instructions covering almost all aspects of pipe construction in addition to scaling, matters such as mouth width and height (“cut-up”), as well as methods of tuning. Sorge advocated tuning in equal temperament instead of the older temperaments used by most organbuilders and keyboardists in the 18th and early 19th centuries. (“Temperament” refers to a chosen way of tuning the 12 notes of an octave.) Building organs in equal temperament set Tannenberg apart from most makers of his time, worldwide.
German Organs vs. English Organs
Colonial-era English organs did not have pedal keys, whereas German organs did. Thus, one important difference in organ music composed in these two national schools, and what was played on these organs, becomes apparent. German organs have had pedal keys since the 14th century, and some had a few pedal keys two centuries earlier. All but the smallest organs in German-speaking America had pedal keys, including organs built by David Tannenberg. This musical culture embraced larger pipe organs when resources permitted, so Tannenberg built many large two-manual and three-manual organs with pedal keyboards and even separate pedal divisions with two octaves of pedal keys.
Conversely, pipe organs serving English-speaking Colonial Americans had no pedal keys because the British did not adopt the pedal keyboard until the late 18th century, and pedal keyboards on organs did not become common in England and English America until the mid-19th century.
Further, German culture gave music an important place in worship. New England Puritans shunned organs until the 19th century. New Yorkers comprised many northern European settlers who embraced music and who put organs into churches of most denominations decades before the New Englanders. The South accepted music in the church and a few small organs were imported by the mid 18th century, and larger ones to cities such as Charleston, South Carolina.
The Organ at Salem
Of organs Tannenberg built, nine remain. The largest of them, the only example with more than one keyboard, is the organ now restored in Salem.
Following delivery in 1798 of the first organ built by Tannenberg for the Moravian settlement at Salem, North Carolina, a larger, second organ was ordered for a new church building then being planned. Tannenberg’s son-in-law, Philip Bachmann, arrived in November, 1799, with parts of the two-manual and pedal organ for the new church and worked with local craftsmen to erect the organ. In 1910, the organ was removed and stored in the attic of the Salem Boys School.
Paula Locklair, vice-president of Old Salem Museums and Gardens, wrote, “. . . [the organ] remained in storage in various locations for eighty-eight years. During the restoration period 1998–2004, two centuries of this organ’s history were deciphered and analyzed by Taylor & Boody Organbuilders. With meticulous care and understanding, the organ was returned to its original state, musically and visually, and it stands as a tribute to the talent and craftsmanship of master organbuilder David Tannenberg, his able assistant and son-in-law, Philip Bachmann, and the various Salem craftsmen who willingly worked alongside Bachmann to complete a remarkable musical achievement in the North Carolina Backcountry.”
Bruce Shull, leader of the Taylor & Boody restoration team, wrote in Splendid Service,The Restoration of David Tannenberg’s Home Moravian Church Organ:
"The restored Home Church Tannenberg organ is an immensely important link in the history of the organ in America between the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. Once again in playing condition, it offers us a valid glimpse into the musical life of the young new country and specifically of the Moravian tradition at the fringes of early American settlement. The organ is also important as a remnant of the “Leiblichkeit” school of organbuilding that was once prevalent in eastern Germany. This style of organbuilding is characterized by the use of low wind pressures and consequently gentle voicing as well as an early proliferation of unison stops of pipes in the dispositions. This early-eighteenth century style was largely eclipsed by the work of Gottfried Silbermann in the mid-eighteenth century. Virtually all of these organs have disappeared or have been thoroughly altered. This organ is the largest surviving example of this school of organbuilding in America and is among the few extant examples remaining anywhere. Tannenberg’s mastery of the craft, his attention to detail, and love of his work are obvious throughout this and his other remaining instruments."
William T. Van Pelt, Executive Director, Organ Historical Society, 1982–2006
Armstrong, William H.; Locklair, Paula; and Shull, Bruce. Splendid Service, The Restoration of David Tannenberg’s Home Moravian Church Organ. Winston-Salem: Old Salem, Inc. 2004.
Brunner, Raymond A. That Ingenious Business, Pennsylvania German Organ Builders. Birdsboro: The Pennsylvania German Society 1990.
Kares, Martin. German Roots and Links to Historic American Organ Building. Self-published tour booklet for Organ Historical Society, 1994.
Libin, Laurence. “New Archival Discoveries Regarding John Clemm and David Tannenberg.” lecture ms. Moravian Music Conference 2008. Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, October 9, 2008. Expanded in Organ Yearbook 38, 2009. Laaber: Laaber-Verlag.
Libin, Laurence. “New Archival Findings.” The Tracker, Journal of the Organ Historical Society 47:3:3.
Libin, Laurence. “Organ History, with Strings Attached” The Tracker, Journal of the Organ Historical Society 49:3:3.
Libin, Laurence. “Tannenberg’s Toolbox; or, The Case of the Missing Mandrels.” The Tracker, Journal of the Organ Historical Society 48:3:14.
“The Schwenkfelders.” Schwenkfelder Library and Heritage Center.
David Tannenberg’s Organ for Home Moravian Church
Gross Gedact 8' (stopped, wood)
Principal Octav 4'
Flauta 4' (wood)
Sub (sic) Octav 2' [Tannenberg meant for it to be Sup(er) Octav 2']
Flauta Amabile 8' (wood)
Viola di Gamba 8'
Flauta Douce 4' (wood)
Subbass 16' (stopped, wood)
Violon Bass 8' (wood)
Jack Mitchener, Organist
Jack Mitchener, Director of the Townsend-McAfee Institute of Church Music and Associate Professor of Organ in the Townsend School of Music and University Organist at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and also serving as Organist/Choirmaster at the historic Christ Episcopal Church there, is known as an elegant and exciting player with an original and poetic style. His vast repertoire includes examples from the early national schools, the complete organ works of J. S. Bach, many major compositions of the Nineteenth through Twenty-first centuries, and premiPres of new pieces by Emma Lou Diemer, Dan Locklair, Margaret Vardell Sandresky, and Robert Ward. A former student of Marie-Claire Alain, Guy Bovet, David Craighead, David Higgs, Susan Landale, John Mueller, Robert Murphy, and Russell Saunders, he also studied improvisation with Gerre Hancock. He studied piano with James Cobb, Louise Leach, Kimberly Kabala, and Clifton Matthews and harpsichord with Arthur Haas and Huguette Dreyfus.He took his doctorate in music from The Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, where he also obtained two master’s degrees and the Performer’s Certificate in both organ and harpsichord. During his two years studying in Paris, he won the Médaille d’or, Prix d’Excellence, and Prix de Virtuosité at the Conservatoire National de Région de Rueil-Malmaison. A laureate in the Dublin International Organ Competition as well as those of the Philadelphia American Guild of Organists and the Music Teachers National Association. He has performed throughout the USA and Europe for major festivals and conventions of the AGO, Organ Historical Society, Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society, Association of Anglican Musicians, The Hymn Society in the United States and Canada, and Presbyterian Association of Musicians.
His students have won many notable competitions and he has served on the juries for several such endeavors including the Biarritz International Competition (Prix André Marchal) and the recorded round of the AGO National Competition (NYACOP).
In addition to teaching and performing, Jack Mitchener has had a long career in the field of church music, serving as organist and choirmaster in several congregations including the American Cathedral in Paris. Formerly Associate Professor of Organ at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and, earlier, the Kenan Professor of Organ at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Associate Professor at Salem College, he was Organist at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he played the historic E. M. Skinner, Opus 712. He has served the AGO at the local and national level, was President of the Board of Trustees of the Moravian Music Foundation, and is a member of the Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society.
Notes on the Music
by Steven Plank, Chair, Department of Musicology, Oberlin College
In charting the emergence of the Baroque style around 1600, the powerful verbalism of monody and operatic recitative seems often to eclipse other elements. However, the rise of independent and idiomatic instrumental genres also helps demarcate the major shift in style. The seventeenth-century toccata, with roots in earlier, preludial playing on both keyboard and lutes, reinforces its idiomatic language with extensive use of florid passage work, a reminder of the genre’s nature as a “touch piece” (from the Italian toccare: to touch). Moreover, the often sectional nature of the early-Baroque toccata allowed it to become both expansive and more explicitly formal.
Bernardo Pasquini (1637-1710), a fixture in Roman musical circles from the middle of the century, enjoyed the patronage of Queen Christina of Sweden and the Ottoboni and Borghese families, and performed in the company of musicians like the violin virtuoso, Arcangelo Corelli. Pasquini’s d-minor toccata is a sectional work in which the use of pedal points in both the opening and closing sections provide a satisfying degree of symmetry. The diverse treatments of florid passage work, counterpoint, and motivic display add both architectural clarity and variety to the work as a whole.
Pasquini’s generation in Rome was strongly influenced by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), the organist of the Giulian Chapel at the Vatican, and in that position one of the most formidable leaders of the Roman musical establishment. His approach to the playing of toccatas advocated a rhetorical flexibility, likening them to the madrigals, as though perhaps they had a silent text to guide the expression. He writes in his Il secondo libro di Toccate . . . :
"This kind of playing, just as in modern madrigal practice, should not stress the beat. Although these madrigals are difficult, they will be made easier by taking the beat sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, or even pausing, depending on the expression or the sense of the words."
Additionally, in the dedication to this collection, he singles out the qualities of grace, facility, variety of measure, and loveliness as necessary for the “new manner.” Inviting these qualities, his Toccata 1 from this collection opens with ornamental passage work, followed by dynamic flights of fancy that alternate with brief moments of expressive repose.
Significantly, some early instrumental forms, even where the language was idiomatically instrumental, maintained formal ties to vocal music, as in the canzona. Giovanni Paolo Cima (c. 1570- 1630), a prominent Milanese composer and pioneer in establishing the prominence of trio texture, offers a typical model in his Canzona Quarta: la Pace. The opening duple-meter section proclaims its vocal song heritage with the signature dactylic motto, while subsequent sections alternate dance-like, triple-meter writing with more richly textured duple-meter passages.
The German organ tradition in the Baroque era is famously and extensively represented by the music of J. S. Bach (1685-1750), who, as a culminating figure, was significantly influenced by earlier composers like Dieterich Buxtehude (c.1637-1707) and Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706), both of whose works he would have known from collections like the so-called “Andreas Bach Buch,” an anthology compiled by Sebastian’s older brother, Johann Christoph. Pachelbel, organist at St. Sebald’s Church in Nuremberg, composed six ciaccone, continuous variations on a ground bass that become important antecedents of works like Bach’s Passacaglia in c minor. Pachelbel’s Ciacona in f, like many sibling works, is based on a falling tetrachord ostinato, generally present, though sometimes imbedded in a more figural line.
Bach’s Pastorale in F, BWV 590, is something of an unusual composite of movements, and questions of its coherence and genesis remain unresolved. The first movement is the programmatic “pastorale,” whose flat-key signature, pedal points, and compound meter were typical attributes of shepherd music in eighteenth-century evocations, often with overtones of piffari playing at Christmas time. The other three movements are familiar in suite and sonata configurations: the second movement offers a binary construction reminiscent of the allemande, while the third movement presents a languorous ornamental line over a steadily pulsing accompaniment; the fourth movement, a binary gigue, brings the whole to a sprightly conclusion.
The chorale prelude was naturally a critical form for Lutheran organists, and Bach’s approach to the genre was generally text-based, seeking to render the specific affect of the chorale poetry or to paint individual words in sound. This verbalism aside, it is striking how wide ranging his approach to the chorale prelude was, with extended contrapuntal fantasias at one end of the scale and intimate, miniature settings at the other. The two settings of “Liebster Jesu, wir sind hier,” a chorale sung in preparation for hearing the sermon of the day, are both small-scale jewels, without counterpoint or interludes between the chorale phrases, and in their dimensions akin to the chorales of the Orgelbuchlein. BWV 730 features rich harmony, including chromatic inflection and expressive use of the major ninth, and despite its brevity, has a remarkable fullness with its five-voice texture. BWV 731 adopts a pronounced decorative style, the sweetness of which seems to echo the chorale’s reference to the “sweet teachings of heaven.”
Bach’s pupils, unsurprisingly, were steeped in his approach to the chorale. Gottfried August Homilius (1714-1785) came to Leipzig as a law student at the university in 1735, but his legal studies were in counterpoint with music studies under Bach’s direction. Like his teacher, he later became a Kantor, appointed in Dresden in 1755, and also wrote a full yearly cycle of church cantatas. His chorale preludes on the communion hymn, “Schmücke dich” and “Wer nur den lieben Gott lässt walten” are both trio settings with the cantus firmus freely unfolding in one of the two treble voices.
Bach’s pedagogical influence embraced not only his students at Leipzig, but the ranks of his family, as well. In his famous keyboard treatise, Versuch über die wahre Art das Clavier zu spielen, C. P. E. Bach (1714-1788), Sebastian’s second surviving son, reiterated the importance of hearing worthy models. He writes that “in order to arrive at an understanding of the true content and affect of a piece, and, in the absence of indications, to decide on the correct manner of performance . . . , it is advisable that every opportunity be seized to listen to soloists and ensembles.” Later he adds that “as a means of learning the essentials of good performance, it is advisable to listen to accomplished musicians.” No doubt the fabled playing of his father was oftentimes the son’s close-at-hand example. Ironically then, C. P. E. Bach as organist and organ composer did not continue the contrapuntal prowess of his father—it would have proved decidedly old fashioned in the age of galanterie—nor did he make use of the pedals in an extensive way, a reversal of the technique his father had done so much to establish and extend. Several years after his father’s death, tellingly around the time he was applying for his father’s Leipzig post for the second time, C. P. E. Bach composed four organ sonatas, W70/3-6, and they clearly reflect the change of taste and style encouraged at Frederick the Great’s court, where Bach was in service. His Sonata in D, W70/5, favors vivid contrasts—the contrasts of dynamics and also the contrast of thin textures with bold chords—and the graceful language of glistening arpeggios and light figuration.
Bach’s colleagues at the Prussian court included both Carl Heinrich Graun (1703-4-1759) and his older brother, Johann Gottlieb (1702-3-1771). Attributions to one sibling or the other have sometimes proved problematic, as is the case with the Concerto in g. A 1992 edition (Zwicky) attributes the work to Carl Heinrich; a 1999 edition (Franke), on the other hand, cites Johann Gottlieb as the composer. The work hearkens back to Bach and Vivaldi rather than looks ahead to more classical tastes. In part, the very notion of concertos for unaccompanied organ recalls Bach’s successful transcriptions of Italian concertos at Weimar, in which the organ is cast in the dual roles of both orchestra and soloist. In Graun’s concerto, the language and forms are also decidedly Baroque. The first movement’s ritornello is signaled by its opening three “hammerstrokes,” a familiar idiom of Italian concertos, and the development of motivic material takes the form of Fortspinnung, a developmental “spinning out” of material that gives the Baroque concerto its characteristic energy. The third-movement ritornello in its large leaps and reiterated notes additionally recalls the allegro style of Vivaldi.
Haydn’s Flötenuhrstücke occupy a special niche as works for musical clocks: in this case clocks with mechanical organs of flute pipes activated by a pinned cylinder. Prince Esterházy’s librarian, Pater Primitivus Niemecz, made several of these towards the end of the eighteenth century, including at least one for Esterházy (1793). Unsurprisingly, this clock featured the music of the court composer, Haydn. Performed non-mechanically as organ solos, the pieces extend the organist’s repertory of late eighteenth-century music with engaging examples of dance music, sprightly figuration, and elegant turns.