Would you like to learn Menuet Gothique from Suite Gothique, Op. 25 by Leon Boellmann?
I hope you'll enjoy playing this piece yourself from my PDF score.
Thanks to Alan Peterson for his meticulous transcription from the video.
What will you get?
PDF score with fingering and pedaling written out for fast and efficient practice. Intermediate Level. 5 pages.
Let me know how your practice goes.
This score is free for Total Organist students.
Check it out here
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 256, of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Jeremy. And he writes:
My Boellmann’s Suite Gothique performance at church went alright. Everything felt comfortable before the service, but some wrong notes crept in during the service, particularly in the Minuet. The Priere went really well. One small mistake that is bothering me occurred at the transition into the g minor section. A parishioner did approach me afterwards and thanked me, which was really nice.
V: So Ausra, Jeremy is on our team who transcribes fingering and pedaling for us.
V. And therefore, he is also a Total Organist student. So, at one point, he wrote that he is going to play entire Boëllmann Suite Gothique. And then I asked him to be sure to give his experience to me so later that I can discuss with you the feedback that he received from people and in general his experience from playing at church. So you see, he played really well, except some small mistake, right? I think he’s talking about mistake in Toccata where the transition into the g minor section is. But this is a wonderful piece to start toccata’s in general, right?
A. Yes, I think we talked about it a few times ago.
V. So because nobody was listening, let’s talk about it again. And this toccata is particularly fun to play because it has such a comfortable finger position, right?
A. That’s true.
V. And fun pedal, double pedal octave part at the end.
A. Yes, that’s right. That’s very typical of French music in general—that they love to add double pedal at the end of the piece.
V. Know what I think? This toccata might be a good model to improvise your own toccatas.
A. That’s true. Because I’m not especially fond of this particular toccata, because the theme for myself is not a nice theme. And if I would be a church organist, I would probably not perform it at the church. This toccata is most suited for a horror movie or something like this.
V. What makes you think that?
A. The theme itself sounds for me like this.
V. And what exactly sounds horrible to you.
A. Minor key,
V. Okay. What else?
A. Accompaniment in the hands too. It’s quite scary.
V. Exactly. And then there is one more thing that I’m thinking about. Do you know what it is? In the pedals.
A. Yes, I know what you mean. I don’t know how to express it.
V. In the middle of this theme there is a G flat.
A. I know, that G flat, yes.
V. Diminished fifth, and it sounds especially—I wouldn’t say ugly but it sounds strange.
A. Well, so I think it’s a nice piece, but not for church service maybe.
V. Mmm-hmm. What if somebody played it in a major key?
A. Try it and see how you like it.
V. (Laughs). Maybe it would be better. So Jeremy, I don’t know if Jeremy likes to transpose but that one might be a nice exercise in transposition, to transpose this toccata into the key that is maybe a related to C minor, maybe E flat Major.
A. Anyway this toccata has a strong character.
V. Yes. Once you hear it you will not forget it.
A. That’s right.
V. So, but of course the Prière; the Prière is most, one of the few beautiful pieces. Suitable for church too.
A. That’s right. It’s very nice. Very very nice.
V. Is it more suitable for Communion or Offertory?
A. I think it could work both ways.
V. Depending on how much time you have, right?
A. That’s right.
V. What makes the Prière so beautiful, in your opinion, Ausra?
A. Well, nice melody, beautiful harmony, nice soft character.
V. Legato touch.
A. That’s right but most of the things in Boëllmann should be played legato because that’s his style.
V. What about registration? Do you like the strings?
A. Yes. That’s true.
V. What kind of an organ would suit best, except of course, organs in Paris?
A. So why I cannot choose French symphonic instruments for this piece?
V. Because the majority of people don’t live in Paris.
A. Well, but they still can organ with string stops.
V. Strings, right?
A. That’s right.
V. Okay. What if you don’t have strings or even maybe one string, like you’re playing Neo Baroque organ for example?
A. Well then you have to replace strings with flutes.
V. Mmm-hmm. The more foundation stops, the better.
A. That’s right.
V. The more stops with the same pitch level, the better.
A. Yes. So if you have only one string, add couple of flutes to that string, and it should work just fine.
V. Couple the manuals.
A. Yes, that’s (a) possibility too.
V. We have created the fingering both the Prière and the Toccata too. Not yet for the Menuet. Menuet, do you like menuet?
A. Yes, but I like Prière more. What about you?
V. I don’t particularly. I think Menuet actually sounds better than the introduction of the Suite Gothique. Introduction Choral, it’s called. In the beginning, sort of Menuet, is just the regular chordal piece, but then it grows into something more with more of the elegant Scherzo texture. It becomes really nice. So Ausra, do you have any recommendations for Jeremy, if he wanted to play the next French symphonic work by, I don’t know, 19th Century or 20th Century composers?
A. Well there are so much Romantic or Modern repertoire, if we are talking about 19th Century not 20th Century French music, so he could choose any of them.
V. Talking about a difficulty level, right? You have so many difficult pieces. And Toccata, for example, is rather easy to play, right? What would be the next step?
A. Well, if he also wants nice, French, and not too hard music, he might consider Langlais Suite Médiévale—Medieval Suite.
A. I think this is also nice setting of the pieces.
V. I haven’t thought about it. Good suggestion. And it’s a 20th Century modal language. Maybe Jeremy is not used to that, so that would be a good introduction.
A. Well, try it and see if you like it.
A. If you will not like it, you may go back to an earlier age, let’s say try some Widor.
V. Widor. Exactly. Like Vierne Symphony would be too difficult, I think.
A. Yes, it’s too difficult yet.
V. Unless, he played some of the movements from the Fantastic pieces.
A. Oh yes! You could find some easier, more even in the symphonies, but if you would compare Vierne Symphony with Boëllmann Toccata, then of course the difference would be too great.
V. Dubois and Gigout Toccata’s would be rather doable.
A. Yes and we talked them a few times.
V. Mmm-hmm. Okay guys. Thank you so much for listening. We hope this was useful to you to get general ideas (for) what you can do after you master Boëllmann Suite Gothique, and what makes it suitable or not so suitable for church services. Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. This was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember, when you practice,,,
A: Miracles happen!
This blog/podcast is supported by Total Organist - the most comprehensive organ training online. It has hundreds of courses, coaching and practice materials for every area of organ playing, thousands of instructional videos and PDF's. You will NOT find more value anywhere else online...
Total Organist helps you to master any piece, perfect your technique, develop your sight-reading skills, and improvise or compose your own music and much much more... Sign up and begin your training today. And of course, you will get the 1st month free too. You can cancel anytime.
Check it out here
Here's what one of our students is saying:
Thank you very much Vidas!
My biggest challenge is still to be patient and not rush ahead in a piece before I have mastered it bit by bit. I know this is a very bad habit and the reason why I never can play without making mistakes. I am trying to find the discipline!
Practising just one piece does get a bit boring so in addition to BWV 639 I have now also started working on BWV 731. I have practised this in the past but with different fingering, I am now relearning it with yours.
Would you like to receive the same or even better results that Jur is getting?
If so, join 80+ other Total Organist students here.
Vidas: Hi guys, this is Vidas!
Ausra: And Ausra!
V: Let’s start Episode 237 of #AskVidasAndAusra Podcast. This question was sent by Jeremy, and he writes:
I’m trying to speed up the Toccata from the Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann. I am planning on playing the entire work for church in two or three weeks: Chorale and Minuet for Prelude, Prayer for Offertory, and Toccata as Postlude. I've played the Prayer a couple times as preludes or offertories over the past year.
I've got the Toccata up to 100 to the quarter note. Any tips on speeding it up?
V: So, this is one of the most popular toccatas for organ, right Ausra?
A: It is! And probably one of the least complicated.
V: People who want to start paying French toccatas probably would need to practice this, first.
A: Yes, this is a good good piece for starters. So, how would you speed it up?
V: My classical method of learning the piece, or any type of organ composition, up to speed is this: At first, I learn the music, if I cannot do this all parts together, then I do parts separately and then do combinations of 2 lines, and then three parts all together. How does it sound so far?
A: Yes, it sounds good! The other thing that I’m thinking, is that because as was mentioned in the question, that there is not so much time left, actually. I don’t know if he will be able to push up the tempo a lot. But I’m thinking about the theme of this toccata, and for me, it seems that if he would compare various toccatas, this one is not as fast as some others, I would say. Definitely not as fast as, for example, Duruflé’s toccata from the suite.
V: Right. I remember playing this piece when I was a student in the early stages at the academy of music in Vilnius. So, I presume that Jeremy, by now, can play the piece with all parts together. And he writes that he can do that about 100 beats per minute. So that’s good. So, if you can do, let’s say slowly, but all parts together, then the next stage that I suggest is to start playing at the concert tempo, whatever it is in your opinion, maybe 120, maybe not too fast, I think 120 is probably maximum, I would suggest, for people who have not played for decades, and many many instruments before—with not too much experience.
V: So, play this piece in a concert tempo, but only a shortest fragment imaginable. Maybe one quarter note, one beat, at the concert tempo, and then stop. And then, you have to look and imagine what’s ahead one beat further. And then you prepare for that beat, and then play it also, very very fast. And then stop again at the next beat. And so you do, several times, the entire piece, but while stopping every beat. What do you think, Ausra?
A: Yes! This is exactly your method, how you work. Not exactly my method, but it could work, I think, very well.
V: What would you have suggested, Ausra?
A: As I always have taught, a hundred times, I would work in combinations, I would find the places where I would place accents, correctly, and definitely I would sing the melody in the bass. This would help me.
V: My method is for very patient people, right?
A: True. And I don’t have such patience.
V: Then, I would play a longer fragment—maybe two beats, and then stop. And then four beats, so basically one measure. Then two measures at a time. Then maybe an entire line, then two lines. Then one page, then two pages, then four pages, and then the entire piece, I believe.
A: True. I think that’s also nice if you don’t have access to the organ all the time. If you have access to the piano. For this particular Toccata, it’s nice to play the hand parts, manual part on the piano, and then really to sing that bass.
V: Hmm. Right.
A: It would work, I think, Nicely.
V: What’s the reason people cannot play fast.
A: Well, lack of, probably, muscle strength in the fingers.
V: Finger independence?
A: Finger independence, coordination problem between hand and feet. It could also be some inner problems, like being afraid of a fast tempo, too. Some people are afraid of fast tempos. So, it could also be a little bit psychological. Because a fast tempo, we often think that it’s something very hard, and I think that this thought gives us more of a struggle.
V: I see.
A: Don’t you think so?
V: Right. I agree with you, because speed is a very relative thing.
A: True. And also, I think if you would listen to YouTube recordings, in many of those, there is such a fast tempo, if we are talking about toccatas or some other virtuosic pieces. But not everybody has to play at the same tempo, because if you are technically very capable, then yes, play it very fast—as fast as you can. But if you are making mistakes, if you are not ready yet, then you would sound comic, and you will just make people laugh at you.
V: So, I think Jeremy can play 100 beats per minute in a stable tempo without making too many mistakes.
A: Because, you know, sometimes when an organist is not ready to play in as fast a tempo as he or she wants, and he or she tries to do it, it sounds comic.
A: So, you need to take such a tempo that you could still be able to control things.
V: Also, people who can’t play fast usually don’t practice much on the piano. Maybe I’m wrong, but it could be that Jeremy has an electronic organ at home.
A: Could be also. You know, electronic organ doesn’t help so much.
V: Unless they have some keyboard with resistance, Right?
V: Which is quite rare. A recent innovation, I think.
A: Because it’s hard to develop your finger muscles while playing electronic keyboard.
V: Remember our friend Paulus, who works in St. Joseph’s parish, here in Vilnius? He actually complains sometimes that he has to play an Allen digital organ.
A: Isn’t this Johannus?
V: Yeah, Johannus, Yeah. But still, digital and very easy to depress keys, and then he has to play sometimes on mechanical action organs like at Saint John’s church or the cathedral. And whenever he comes over, he is very much stressed out about the strength needed. Right? So a real organ with real resistance is, I think, a beautiful thing. So I think people should spend as much time as possible playing on real instruments plus piano, too, because it’s a real thing.
A: Yes. I agree.
V: And then their technique will develop much faster, and getting up to speed will not be that big of a problem. Yeah?
V: So, guys, please apply our tips in your practice. We certainly know they work for us, and we hope it will work for you, too. And please send more of your questions. We love helping you grow. This was Vidas,
A: And Ausra.
V: And remember. When you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
If you liked my PDF score of Leon Boellmann's Toccata or Introduction-Choral from Suite Gothique, Op. 25, I'm sure you will enjoy his sweet Priere a Notre Dame.
Thanks to Jeremy Owens for his meticulous transcription of fingering from the slow motion video.
Intermediate level. PDF score. 4 pages.
Check it out here
50% discount is valid until February 12. This score is free for Total Organist students.
Would you like to learn the famous Carillon by Leon Boellmann (1862-1897) from his 12 Pieces, Op. 16 (1891)?
If so, save yourself many hours and check out my new PDF score (5 pages) with fingering and pedaling for efficient practice to achieve ideal legato articulation. 50 % discount is valid until November 1. Free for Total Organist students.
Would you like to learn the famous Toccata from Suite Gothique by Leon Boellmann?
If so, I have prepared this PDF score with complete fingering and pedaling which will be helpful in your practice process.
This score is available here with 50 % discount which is valid until October 11.
It's free for our Total Organist students.
DON'T MISS A THING! FREE UPDATES BY EMAIL.
You have successfully joined our subscriber list.
Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Our Hauptwerk Setup: