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Topic: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

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  1. #1

    Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    Here's a Beethoven oddity: the first of two preludes, op. 39, composed by Beethoven for organ (or piano), each of which runs through all the keys. This first one starts in C and adds one sharp until there are 7 sharps, then it shifts to five flats and removes one flat until only one remains, at which point there's a little aria and after a stormy segment that really sounds like Ludwig, it returns to C major for the finish.

    http://personalpages.tds.net/~mzimmer/op39-1st4.mp3

    This GPO realization utilizes the equivalent of flutes for the two manuals with a baroque plenum reed pedal underneath (only in about 1/4 of the piece). The aria in the right hand shifts to the cornet stop for something a little different. Terry Dwyer's tutorial on Using the GPO Organ was invaluable in working this out, and one of the manuals uses one of the new stops from the update.

    Because of the rapidly shifting harmonies, the usual church or cathedral reverb was deemed wholly unsuitable. The use of fairly intimate stops called for a smaller space that wouldn't hide the call-and-answer and the harmonic changes, and I ended up happiest with the Jazz Club 2 ambience from GPO Studio---not quite where one would expect to hear this played! The only problem with that very dry reverb is the final chord doesn't resonate enough and feels like it stops too soon.

    This was entirely done in Overture SE 3.6.1, with modulation changes accomplished in the graphic window and a constantly shifting tempo, most noticeable in the latter part of the aria.

    Anyway, I'd appreciate comments and thoughts on this oddball piece. I'll start in on the second prelude (which is not quite as lengthy, but manages to run through all the keys TWICE in a mere 76 bars) in a few days.

    --Mark

    UPDATE: I've changed this to the revised version based on comments here and off-list. I've switched the pedal to a 16+8 Bourdon, which lessens the contrast but gives it a bit more cohesion, eliminated the mod changes for the pedal and one of the manuals and done some general cleaning up of things. Falcon1 and I have been having a discussion about whether it should be manuals only, but for the time being I'm going to leave it with the pedals pending further research of the earliest available editions.

    UPDATE 2: Here's the second of the two preludes, referenced above:

    http://personalpages.tds.net/~mzimmer/op39-2st.mp3
    Last edited by gardibolt; 11-07-2004 at 11:26 PM. Reason: Clarification

  2. #2

    Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    Congratulations, Mark! This is a fine piece of work. You have made the otherwise intractable GPO Organ sound like a real one, played by a real organist. I wondered if my tutorial would pay off, and you have already repaid me for my efforts.

    Only one suggestion (not a criticism) - would not 16 + 8 Bourdon have been better for the pedal, as more in keeping with your manual registration? Maybe this is a personal one...

    I wouldn't worry about the lack of reverb at the end; it would have sounded unnatural after the dry acoustic throughout the piece. Your piece goes a long way to dispelling the idea that organs are always in a large church, and always play at full power, blasting everybody with continual reeds.

    Keep up the good work!

    Terry Dwyer

  3. #3
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    Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    I think you did a good job of making this sound real. Very intersting piece. I can't wait until you put up the second prelude.
    Trent P. McDonald

  4. #4

    Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd
    I think you did a good job of making this sound real. Very intersting piece. I can't wait until you put up the second prelude.
    I agree. Putting the organ "out there" with relatively litle reverb is risky and can reveal a lot of warts about the instrument but in this case it sounds totally real. Kudos to you as a player and again to GPO. It's a very cool piece of music too! Beethoven seems to take on a different personality when he writes for organ. He should hae done more...

  5. #5

    Smile Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    One fatal mistake in this rendition is the use of Mod-wheel!

    There's only one manual which you can change the dynamic and that's the swell. In this rendition I for example heard use of Mod-wheel in pedal.
    Sincerely,
    Falcon1


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  6. #6
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    Thumbs up Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    garibolt

    I just love hearing unheard Beethoven's work. What you are doing for the musical community is tremendous! I hope your Unheard Beethoven pieces get to be heard the world over.

    For being done in a notation program, this is very good. It must have been a lot of work with the modulation changes and shifting tempos. Glad that Terry's Organ tutorial was helpful.

    I realize that you deliberately avoided a big space which is a refreshing idea. It may be interesting to still hear a more reverberant version for comparison sake. It may also be helpful if you are willing to share the midi or overture file.

    Excellent rendition of this never-before-heard work. Thank you for posting this!

    Gary Garritan

  7. #7

    Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    Falcon, please explain further when I cannot and when I can crescendo. Beethoven writes in crescendi so he must have something in mind. Are the pedals just a constant volume at all times?

  8. #8

    Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    Quote Originally Posted by gardibolt
    Falcon, please explain further when I cannot and when I can crescendo. Beethoven writes in crescendi so he must have something in mind. Are the pedals just a constant volume at all times?
    gardibolt, yes the pedals are usually constant "volume" at all times - except when the swell is coupled to the pedal, but using the swell of course doesn't affect other stops like the pedal stops or from the "Great" manual only "Swell" stops are affected.
    I don't have the score so I can't really be sure what he are trying to accomplish if he writes crescendo, except it could be indication that he intented the section to be played on the swell alone.

    Do you have pdf of the score? Then I could advise in more detail.
    Sincerely,
    Falcon1


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  9. #9

    Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    Quote Originally Posted by gardibolt
    Falcon, please explain further when I cannot and when I can crescendo. Beethoven writes in crescendi so he must have something in mind. Are the pedals just a constant volume at all times?
    Gardibolt - I did warn you in my tutorial that pedals are not enclosed - see under Swell Effect.

    Many people think that the virtue of the organ lies in its unchanging volume level, so the Great is normally unenclosed. Virtue or not, at least one manual is usually enclosed so that swell effects are possible. The pedal pipes are not enclosed because as some of them are about 16 ft long, the chamber and its louvres (worked by foot power, remember) would be too cumbersome.

    Terry Dwyer

  10. #10
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Unheard Beethoven for Organ

    This is excellent. Music for organ always boggled my mind in so much what it takes to perform on the instrument. I used to sneak in and watch Dr. David Fuller of the University at Buffalo Amherst campus practice in Slee hall. Awesome demo!
    May I ask, what was the problem with the final chord?
    Styxx

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