Joris Verdin The organ: fit for expression?
Het ORGEL 96 (2000), nr. 5, 15-23 [summary]

Dynamic and agogic aspects play a major role in 19th-century expression. In this article the first one of these is explored. Based on investigation of period literature we conclude that expressiveness, dynamics and the term ‘expression’ can not be separated, even are quite inseparable. The importance that is attributed to dynamics is not only documented in general publications about musical aesthetics (Lussy, Riemann), but also, and in the first place, in harmonium methods (Lickl, Lefébure-Wely, Mustel). This makes completely sense, as the harmonium is, among the keyboard-instruments, particularly suited to control the parameter volume. Several quotations from the above-mentioned literature show that there are general ‘rules’ with respect to the dynamic curve of a musical sentence (the up- and downwards movement of crescendo and diminuendo), and that individual musicians, on the other hand, differ from each other, so each of them can individualize his playing.

With regard to the organ we conclude that Charles-Marie Widor represents a school with another point of view: the nature of the instrument, it’s location and it’s repertoire demand a less flexible, more objective kind of expression, which is described by Widor as ‘architecture’. Sigfrid Karg-Elert develops the notion of expression into an idea of transcendent art, in which controlling of dynamics is regarded as the most important individual means of expression.