Hans Fidom The ‘artistically inherent motivation’ of organ music (discussion)
Het ORGEL 98 (2002), nr. 3, 31-40 [summary]

Hans Fidom opened issue 2001/6 of het ORGEL with an editorial in which he stated that interpreting ancient music is a demanding task. Because he his convinced that the ‘artistic communication’ with the audience should be as transparent as possible, Fidom stressed that improvising in the style of one’s own time deserves attention as well.

Peter Ouwerkerk and Sietze de Vries reacted. Ouwerkerk thinks that musicians who ‘tell a musical story of their own’ while playing ancient music should not be condemned. Fidom replied that this is not what he meant. He agrees with Ouwerkerk that acting as an autonomous artist may offer valuable opportunities to organists. Sietze de Vries argued for improvising in ancient styles. He asked whether the development of the organ should not be considered closed. Organists are, in De Vries’s opinion, craftsmen, who should deliver ‘functional quality’. Fidom answered that his perspective is different: he thinks that an organist, especially in the 21st century, is an artist in the first place, who will for this reason highly value autonomous music making. Furthermore, the quality of his improvisation in an old style is almost bound to be less convincing than the quality of, for example, original music in that style. Consequently, improvising in ancient styles should occur preferably within an educational context: it can be an excellent way to get acquainted with ancient organs and ancient ways of composing.

Fidom interviewed organist Stef Tuinstra and organ builder Richold Hosper in order to estimate the practical value of his points of view. Both Tuinstra and Hosper appear to be interested in scientific aspects of organ music and organ building, but it is equally clear that they use this as one of the building stones of their personal perspective on organ culture. They are artists, but that does not imply that they don’t take history seriously.

Fidom argues that historicism and making-music-as-an-artist are equally important ways of playing the organ. This would open the way to respect for scientific research by musicologists and physicists as well as the artistic aspects of music as such. To Fidom, this is one of the main conditions necessary for the organ culture of the 21st century to become based on the best music made on the best instruments.