Timothy Olsen plays the landmark 1965 Flentrop 3m organ, tonally updated by Flentop in 2013, at Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he is associate professor of organ and the Kenan professor of organ at the North Carolina School of the Arts. A long heritage of Flentrop organs in North Carolina and in the U. S. followed the firm’s installation in 1957 of its first organ of concert size in the U. S. at the Salem College Chapel.
Dieterich Buxtehude (1637-1707): Toccata in D, BuxWV 155
Hugo Distler (1908-1942): 7 of 30 Spielstücke für die Kleinorgel, Op. 18/1
No. 1 Schnelle
No. 2 Schnelle
No. 4 Flinke
No. 5 Langsame
No. 6 Rasche
No. 8 Zurückhaltende
No. 11 Ruhige
Georg Böhm (1661-1733): Partita über die Arie: Jesu, du bist allzu schöne
J. S. Bach (1685-1750): Trio in D Minor, BWV 527
Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706): Ciacona in F Minor, T. 206
Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726): Pastorale, Sonate d'Intavolatura
Paul Hindemith (1895-1963): Sonata II
Helmut Walcha (1907-1991): 3 Chorale Preludes:
Fröhlich soll mein Herze spingen
Zu Bethlehem geboren
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott
by Timothy Olsen
Buxtehude: Toccata in D, BuxWV 155
Dieterich (Diderich, Dietrich) Buxtehude (1637-1707) played an enormous role in the musical life of Lübeck as well as in the broader region of northern Germany. Raised in a musical family in Denmark where his father was an organist and schoolmaster, his early exposure to music led him to follow his father as a musician and organist.
Dieterich’s first job as an organist was at St. Mary’s in Helsingborg, Denmark (now Sweden) from 1657 to 1658, where his father, Johannes (1602?-1674), had been the church musician until the family relocated about 1642 to Helsingør, where Johannes was organist at St. Olai Church for 32 years. Dieterich moved to St. Mary’s Church in Helsingør in 1660 and worked there until 1668. Upon the death of Franz Tunder in 1667, Buxtehude succeeded him as organist of the Marienkirche in Lübeck, a position recognized throughout Europe for its prominence.
Buxtehude’s contributions to music reached widely beyond the organ milieu, including sacred and secular vocal, instrumental, and keyboard music. His contributions to free organ music (music not based on a pre-existing melody such as that of a chorale) are vast, including more than twenty toccatas and praeludia — staples of the north German baroque organ repertoire. Praeludia and Toccatas served several purposes: establishing the key and/or setting the character and mood for a choral or concerted instrumental piece to follow, displaying the organist’s virtuosic skills, and sometimes, especially for Buxtehude at the Marienkirche in Lübeck, to cover transitional time between the Sunday afternoon Vespers services and the following Abendmusik concerts for which his leadership was famous.
The Toccata in D, BuxWV 155, is an excellent example of the stylus phantasticus — the compositional style of the free works, alternating free-form sections with stricter contrapuntal/fugal sections. These improvised pieces were steeped in the concepts of rhetoric, often revealed through a five-part structure: free-strict-free-strict-free. In BuxWV 155, the opening declamatory motive clearly states the tonality of D minor. With dramatic arpeggios, bold pedal lines (highlighting the presence of large pedal divisions in north German organs of the time), and clear harmonic statements, the opening section dramatically sets the affect and grabs the attention of the listener.
The first strict section (fugue, mm. 27ff.) emerges from the texture of the opening section. As is typical in Buxtehude’s toccatas and praeludia, the first fugue dissolves and elides into the second free section. Then, the second fugue’s subject, as is often the case, takes on the same melodic contour as the first fugue subject, though this time compressed into 3/4 rather than 4/4 as in the first fugue. Buxtehude’s genius is wonderfully shown throughout this toccata enticing the listener (and performer!) through a rhetorical story of Sturm und Drang.
Distler: Seven of Thirty Pieces, Op. 18, No. 1
Hugo Distler (1908-1942) had foundational schooling in Nuremberg, where he received instruction in piano, music history, and theory. He furthered his studies at the Leipzig Conservatory in conducting and piano, and later moved to the classes of composition and organ. These latter two areas of study would be the guiding forces through his short life, he having been heavily influenced by two organists who were prevalent in the Orgelbewegung movement looking back to classical organ building ideals of the baroque. His exposure to both new and 16th- and 17th-century works through services and performances at the Thomaskirche would impact his compositional style greatly.
Distler’s oeuvre of organ music includes such masterpieces as his partitas on Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland and Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Op. 8, No. 1 and 2, respectively). The magnificent organs of St. Jakobi, Lübeck, the organist post to which he was appointed in 1931, likely inspired his organ compositions. In 1937, Distler left his posts at St. Jakobi and as head of Chamber Music at the Leipzig Conservatory and moved to Stuttgart where he taught at the Württemberg Hochschule für Musik until his early death in 1942.
Among his organ works are an organ trio sonata as well as smaller character pieces, including the Op. 18, No. 1 set of 30 pieces, composed in 1938, from which these seven recorded movements are selected.
His Opus 18 was composed for a house organ that was built in 1938 for his small house in Stuttgart. The specification of the organ, which he had largely designed, was based on a 4’ principal, and, though it comprised only 15 stops over two manuals and pedals, it included several mutations and reeds; the only 8’ stop on the Oberwerk was a regal, and the only 16’ stop in the pedal was a dulzian! The organ stood in a room approximately 15 feet square and about 8 feet high.
Op. 18, No. 1 consists of 11 short character pieces followed by 3 sets of variations. The character pieces (sometimes charming, sometimes witty, sometimes somber) fit squarely in the neo-baroque compositional style, and work beautifully on the recently revoiced Flentrop organ from 1965.
Böhm: Partita über die Arie: Jesu, du bist allzu schöne
Georg Böhm (1661-1733) received early musical training from his father, who, like Buxtehude’s father, was an organist and schoolmaster. After his father died in 1675, Böhm continued his education at the Lateinschule in Goldbach, with further study at Gymnasium at Gotha. Residing in both cities were members of the musical Bach family, some of whom may have furthered his education. In 1693, Böhm moved to Hamburg where he likely came in contact with several influential organs and organists including Reincken at Katharinekirche (where Reincken played a large, four-manual Schnitger organ), and likely Vincent Lübeck and Dieterich Buxtehude in nearby cities Stade and Lübeck, respectively. Four years later, in 1697, Böhm was appointed organist at the Johanneskirche in Lüneburg where he remained for the rest of his life. There, he likely came into contact with the young J. S. Bach who attended school in Lüneburg from 1700 to 1703.
In the latter part of the 17th century, secular variations and the Lutheran chorale (or sacred aria) were being fused into sets of sacred variations. Böhm was probably most famous for fusing these two genres. Though these partitas may have been intended for the home (and therefore, harpsichord), many of them work equally well on the organ. His partite on the sacred aria, Jesu, du bist allzu schöne is a prime example of his marriage of form and thematic material. In this set of 14 variations, one can imagine the young Böhm borrowing ideas from the old master, Buxtehude — the final variation could easily pass for a middle free section in a Buxtehude praeludium.
Bach: Trio Sonata III in D Minor, BWV 527
Johann Sebatian Bach’s (1685-1750) six Trio Sonatas embrace forward-looking stylistic traits of the galant style in the chamber music genre and have remained popular for nearly three centuries since their composition in the first several years of Bach’s tenure in Leipzig, 1723-1750. They likely were created for pedagogical use for his maturing sons, Wilhelm Friedemann and Carl Philipp Emanuel, and others of numerous students he had in Leipzig. The sonatas push the boundaries of technical efficiency and prowess, as well as concentration: neither hands nor feet get a rest from the constant motion within a movement. They are rooted in the Italian trio sonata genre; each hand was a “soloist” while the feet played the continuo bass part.
The ubiquitous use of dance meters reflects Bach’s earlier immersion in chamber music. Prior to his appointment as Cantor of Leipzig, Bach worked for the court of Prince Leopold in Cöthen where he primarily composed chamber music. It was here, while immersed in chamber music, that his exposure to, and exploration of, dance music flourished. As George Stauffer points out in the preface to the new Bach edition published by Wayne Leopold (Ser. I, Vol. 7):
French social dancing was part of court life in Cöthen, and this, together with the opportunity to write instrumental chamber works, keyboard dances, and theatrical vocal pieces, appears to have spurred Bach to incorporate dance into his music to a greater degree than before. (p. xiv)
This experience would have a profound impact on his later music, particularly that written for the organ.
It is widely known that Bach composed essentially a three-year set of cantatas for the use at the Thomaskirche during his early years in Leipzig. Though he had written organ music in trio texture before, Bach had not included the organ as an obbligato instrument in cantatas until composing 17 movements with obbligato organ in a short burst of cantatas between May and November 1726. This inclusion of organ obbligato coupled with his focus on chamber music in Cöthen seems to have spurred a change in his approach to the organ as an instrument. (Leupold, Stauffer, p. x)
This change of approach in composition coincides with changes in the central German organ: inclusion of more foundational pitches (the famous Trost organ in the Altenburg Castle Church, which Bach reportedly favored, included ten 8’ flue stops on the manuals) including color stops that imitated specific instruments, e.g., viola da gamba and hautbois. This shift in organ tonal concept of the 1720s and 1730s melded well with Bach’s evolving thoughts on composing for the organ and its use in cantatas.
Throughout the second half of the 18th century, manuscript copies of the six Trio Sonatas were prevalent, and the first complete set of the six sonatas was published in London by Samuel Wesley and Carl Friedrich Horn (1809-1810). Only 34 years later, in 1844, they were included as Volume I of the first complete edition of J. S. Bach’s works, published by Peters. They have remained a staple of the organ repertoire ever since.
Trio Sonata III in D Minor, BWV 527, first movement, Andante, evokes a playful character between two solo voices and is one of several trio sonata movements that existed in an earlier form and were adapted for the sonatas. This movement possibly was an instrumental trio, now lost.
The second movement, Adagio e dolce, contains many long, flowing, violin-like lines, and Bach later arranged this movement for the middle movement of BWV 1044, the Triple Concerto for Flute, Violin, and Harpsichord. For the same Triple Concerto, he adapted the outer movements from his Prelude and Fugue for in A Minor for harpsichord, BWV 894. The final movement, Vivace, is full of jollity despite being in a minor key.
Pachelbel: Ciacona in F Minor, T. 206
A highly skilled organist and composer, Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706) was widely- known during his lifetime. Though today he is known best for the ubiquitous Canon, his broader output demonstrates masterful compositions in various genres and for differing forces including chorale preludes, free works (toccatas, ricercare, preludes, etc.), sets of variations, and chamber and choral works.
As an organist, Pachelbel served such prestigious posts as St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna as well as courts and other churches. His latter years spent in Thuringia led to contact with the flourishing Bach family: Pachelbel taught J. S. Bach’s elder brother, Johann Christoph, who subsequently taught J. S. as a young boy, effectively making Pachelbel J. S.’s musical grandfather. Pachelbel’s fame as an organist is evidenced by his appointment as organist at St. Sebaldus in Nuremberg, a post he received without the customary competition or acceptance of applications from others.
Pachelbel’s variation sets, including the published Hexachordium Apollinis (1699), demonstrate masterful compositional techniques of cohesion and creativity, particularly in the F-minor Ciaconna. The plaintive nature of the theme is delicately stated on the wonderfully revoiced, singing quality of the 8’ Prestant on the Hoofdwerk.
Domenico Zipoli (1688-1726) studied with various musicians, often on the sponsorship of a duke. His mentors included Alessandro Scarlatti, Bernardo Pasquini, and Giovanni Casini. In 1715, Zipoli was appointed organist of the Jesuit Church in Rome and joined the Society of Jesus the following year, when he published his most famous work, Sonate d’Intavolatura per Organo e Cimbalo. The publication consists of toccatas, canzonas, versets, and other mass movements, as well as the Pastorale.
Pastorales, typically evoking idyllic scenes of bucolic shepherds and their pipes, are usually in a compound meter of 6/8 or 12/8. Zipoli’s Pastorale is no exception. This pastorale, however, has a middle section that evokes the capricious flight of birds. The last section features chromatic half-steps B-natural/B-flat. These quaint notes emphasize the pungent, meantone temperament in which keyboard instruments of Zipoli’s day were tuned. Though the Flentrop is not in meantone, its mild unequal temperament and the buzzy quality of the Regal 8’ on the Borstwerk approaches the edginess of meantone. The last phrase of the piece has Neapolitan flair composed such that one wonders whether the shepherds were defending against a malicious intruder to the herd!
Hindemith: Sonata II
Paul Hindemith’s (1895-1963) vast and varied compositional output includes one or more sonatas for more than 14 different instruments as well as major works for orchestra, opera, chamber, and chorus. Highly regarded as a teacher, he taught at the Berlin Musikhochschule and at several institutions in the United States, including an extended professorship at Yale.
Hindemith’s compositional style varied throughout his life. His early style was that of imitating the masters: Wagner, Strauss, Debussy, and, less so, Max Reger (Hindemith’s words). He later explored rhythmic elements, and counterpoint played a large role in his more personal style. Counterpoint and clarity denote quintessential Hindemith for many, and this neo-classical style characterizes his second (of three) sonatas for organ.
The three organ sonatas were all composed in America, the first two in 1937 during his first visit to the States, and the third after he emigrated in February 1940, following the beginning of World War II. Though he was not an organist, his writing fits well on the Flentrop instrument conceived in the neo-baroque style in 1965, and revoiced in 2013.
The first of the three movements of the Second Sonata is in a modified sonata form. One author observes that the movement’s form includes seven “interludes” with various themes that recur in various guises.
The second movement is in three-part Song form: A A B A B A Coda. This movement’s lilting rhythm reminisces the pastorales of earlier eras. The sections alternate between the Bovenwerk and Hoofdwerk, the latter being heard with pedal.
The final movement is a four-voice jovial fugue with a quirky subject, within a context of Rondo form, A B A C A Coda.
Walcha: Chorale vorspiele
Helmut Walcha (1907-1991) was internationally acclaimed as a performer and pedagogue, teaching in Frankfurt at the Musikhochschule 1938-1972 and leading the church music department. His fame allured international students including many Fulbright scholars from the United States. Some of his American students became well regarded performers and organ teachers, among them Robert Anderson, David Boe, Margaret and Melvin Dickinson, Delbert Disselhorst, Betty Louise Lumby, Paul Jordan, David Mulbury, Fenner Douglass, Jane Douglass, Grigg and Helen Fountain, Barbara Harbach, Charles Krigbaum, George Ritchie, Russell Saunders, Margaret Sandresky and Salem College professors emeriti John and Margaret Mueller.
With poor eyesight in his youth and becoming blind at age 16, he nevertheless untertook organ study in Leipzig with Günther Ramin (1898-1956), entered the Leipzig Conservatory as Ramin’s student, and also served as assistant organist to Ramin at the Thomaskirche. In 1929, having been offered a church position in Frankfurt, Walcha moved there and remained the rest of his life.
His involvement in the Orgelbewegung movement and his clear playing of counterpoint led him to twice record the complete organ works of J. S. Bach on historic instruments. He also recorded most of Bach’s harpsichord works.
Walcha composed three volumes of chorale preludes, noting registrations throughout. “Gap” registrations and mutations, common among baroque revivalists, are extensive.
Fröhlich soll mein Herze springen (All My Heart This Night Rejoices) calls for reeds of the organ without flues added to them: the Trompete 8’ (Hoofdwerk: Trompet 8’, left hand, chorale melody) and Lieblich Posaune 16’ in the pedal (16’ Fagot), with the sprightly, dance-like staccato accompaniment in the right hand calling for Flöten, Mixturen, Zimpeln (Bovenwerk: 8’ Gedackt and Ruisquint II). One can easily hear the “rejoicing heart” in the cheerful right hand part in this setting.
Zu Bethlehem geboren (In Bethlehem’s Lowly Stable) is a gently rocking lullaby, the pedal ostinato consisting of alternating tonic and dominant pitches, without 16’. The left hand accompaniment on the gap registration of 8’ and 2’ provides an elegant counterpoint to the simply-stated chorale melody on a reed (Borstwerk Regaal).
Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) ends this three-piece group of chorales by Walcha. As a cradle Lutheran, and one that always cherished the rhythmic melody of this hymn (though rarely have I gotten to sing it this way), I felt obliged to include this chorale. It wonderfully utilizes the full plenum of the Flentrop organ, the chorale heard in canon between the pedal and right hand octaves, while the inner voices provide rhythmic interest and harmonic support.
Timothy Olsen became in 2009 the Kenan Professor of Organ at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and Associate Professor of Organ at Salem College in Winston- Salem, North Carolina. Dr. Olsen also serves as Cantor at Augsburg Lutheran Church in Winston-Salem, where he oversees the music program: directing the adult choirs, playing for services, and directing a music staff which includes a Director of Youth Music and Handbells and a music intern. Previously, he was for four years the Wanda L. Bass Chair of Organ at Oklahoma City University, and has also taught at Ithaca College, Binghamton University, and Cornell University.
Concertizing frequently, Timothy Olsen is the first-prize winner of the National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance (2002) sponsored by the American Guild of Organists and was a finalist in several other competitions, including the Norddeutscher Rundfunk Schnitger Competition (Germany), the Poister National Organ Competition, and the John Rodland Memorial Organ Competition. Featured as organ soloist with orchestras, he also performs collaboratively in organ/trumpet recitals with Judith Saxton; organ duo recitals with Nicole Keller; and as organist for choral works including Maurice Duruflé’s Requiem and Messe Cum Jubilo, Théodore Dubois’s The Seven Last Words of Christ, and Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem.
Dr. Olsen presents masterclasses and workshops for universities, churches, and chapters of the American Guild of Organists, plays recitals at AGO Conventions, and performs solo organ recitals internationally. His earlier CD of widely ranging repertoire appears on the Naxos label, and his peformances have been featured on the Pipedreams radio program.
A native of Frost, Minnesota, Dr. Olsen began organ study at age 13 with Sandra Krumholz of Fairmont, Minnesota, and continued with Peter Nygaard at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, receiving a Bachelor of Music degree in 1997. A student of David Higgs at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts and Master of Music Degrees in Organ Performance and Literature as well as a Master of Arts Degree in Music Theory Pedagogy. He served as David Higgs’ teaching assistant, a teaching assistant in the theory department, and on the faculty of the Eastman Community Education Division.
The Flentrop Organ
During the 1950s and into the 1970s under the auspices of the Fulbright Scholarship Program, American organists flocked to Europe to study with such great artists as Helmut Walcha, Anton Heiller, Michael Snyder, Finn Viderø, Grethe Krogh, Gustav Leonhardt, Piet Kee, André Marchal, Marie Claire Alain, et al. In Europe, they were exposed to newly-built mechanical action organs as well as the historic instruments that had survived from the Baroque Era in Holland, Germany, Denmark, France, Italy and Spain. Even before World War II, European organ builders had rediscovered the advantages of the tracker organ with its special qualities in voicing and ensemble characteristics afforded by the slider wind chest. Many American organists returning to the United States desired the same qualities of sensitivity of touch and character of tone they found in the European organs, but there were no such builders in America until well into the 1960s.
Dr. John Mueller wanted such an instrument for Salem College. With the consensus of the organ faculty, including Margaret Sandresky, he ordered such an organ from Flentrop Orgelbouw in Zaandam, Holland. The 1957 Flentrop, currently located in the teaching studio at Salem College and originally installed in the college chapel, was Dirk Flentrop’s first organ of concert proportions in the United States, delivered just months before the Busch-Reisinger Museum instrument at Harvard. Organists and organ builders from all over the country came to inspect it. With plans for a new Fine Arts Center on the drawing board for 1965, there was no question that one of the new organs should be a Flentrop. Its choice was unanimous. During the next forty-five years, the Flentrop firm continued its study of historic voicing techniques and organ restoration. These new techniques were incorporated into the 2013 renovation of Salem College’s organ.
The work performed by Flentrop Orgelbouw in 2013 included a complete re-voicing of all flue work, lengthening of the resonators on the Hoofdwerk and Pedaal reeds, re-bushing the key action, and adjustments to the disposition of the Bovenwerk mixtures. The organ was put into a slightly unequal temperament, Neidhardt Große Stadt (Johann Georg Niedhardt lived ca. 1680-1739 and theorized musical temperaments including one appropriate for use in an organ in a large city and others for a small city and for a village.) The electrical stop action (which originally included a setter board for the pistons) was also fully upgraded to a solid state system. The result of the renovation is absolutely splendid, and the College is grateful to Frits Elshout and Richard Houghton and their teams for their work. We would especially like to thank Dirk Koomans and Yu Nagayama for their exceptional work in re-voicing the instrument. It is again a gem in the crown of instruments in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and, indeed, the entire region.
Flentrop, 1965/2013, Shirley Recital Hall
Salem College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Manual compass, CC-g3, 56 notes
Concave pedalboard (2013) with radiating sharps, CC-g1, 32 notes
Hoofdwerk man II
Cornet IV MC
Bovenwerk man I
Borstwerk man III