Geert Bierling A plea for rehabilitation of playing of ‘transcriptions’
het ORGEL 95 (1999), nr. 3, 22-26 [summary]


Playing of ‘transcriptions’ of music not originally written for the organ on the organ is not popular in the Netherlands. However, the recovery of some concert programs revealed that transcriptions were played in the 19th century. Interest in transcriptions has decreased for at least two reasons: the change of the organ building style in the 1950s and 1960s, which included a rejection of the electropneumatic organ and its repertoire; and the fact that making and playing transcriptions became the occupation of incompetent organists. It is time to rehabilitate the transcription. By studying and playing non-organ music on the organ, the organist’s knowledge of playing ‘real’ organ music can be increased; playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue, for example, requires a certain ‘orchestral’ way of making music, which can be very useful in the outer movements of Alain’s Trois Dances. Furthermore, music-making can also be made more enjoyable by this approach. Other advantages of making and playing transcriptions are the widening of the organ repertoire and the possibility of more attractive programming of organ concerts. Organ transcriptions should be made to the highest standards. They have to sound like ‘real’ organ music (as does Bach’s brilliant transcription of Vivaldi’s Concerto for the two violins, cello and orchestra). The style of the transcription has to fit the style of the organ to be played (don’t play a Bach transcription by Reger on a baroque organ) and has to be consistent.