Vidas: Hi guys! This is Vidas.
Ausra: And Ausra.
V: Let’s start episode 525 of Secrets of Organ Playing Podcast. This question was sent by Roland, and he writes an answer to my question, how is his organ playing going on these days? He writes,
Very well thank you. As I studied in the Netherlands and before that in Austria I was nervous of becoming too one-sidedly Dutch/Germanic in my repertoire and my approach, so am now preparing French repertoire and have tuition in Paris with Prof. Cauchefer Choplin (with whom you have recorded the interesting interview) in the coming period.
V: So, Ausra, it seems that Roland wants to now become more balanced organist, not only focusing on the German side of the repertoire, but also the French side of the repertoire. First of all, before you say something, do you think that German and French sides of the organ historical playing schools are the only ones that needed to be taken into consideration?
A: No, that’s what I wanted to say. Because I think that the sort of beginning of music itself is not in Germany, and it’s not in the Netherlands, it’s not in France, it’s in Italy, probably.
A: So that’s, you know, you should consider Italian school as well. All those Frescobaldi pieces, and other masters. And there is also Spanish school, which is also fascinating with its chamades. And music, especially the baroque music was quite polyphonic at that time.
A: So it’s also worth of consideration. Plus, also English tradition - all those virginalists. Of course, if he knows the Netherlands music very well, so went through Sweelinck, of course he gets an idea of English virginalists. So, I guess sometimes we spent too much focusing on these two countries: Germanic and French.
V: But, professor Cauchefer Choplin is a renowned figure when it comes to improvisation, for example, and French repertoire, so it will not hurt him in any way. Obviously, it’s very nice that he has listened to the podcast conversation with Professor Sophie Veronique Cauchefer Choplin, that I recorded. I think it, at the beginning of the time when I was just starting doing podcasts.
A: Yes, I remember that time when you were taking an interview.
V: She was on the jury of Ciurlionis International Organ Competition in Vilnius four years ago.
A: That’s right.
V: Which will start also in two weeks I think, or less than two weeks, almost in a week. So, we will try to also to listen to some of the organists, and maybe to interview some jurors too, if they agree.
A: Sure. And you know, talking about Roland, I think it’s important when you are study, during your study years, as he now obviously is, to experience as much countries, and to try as many instruments and as many traditions as you can. But I guess at some point in your life, you have probably to choose which area will be the area of your concentration, of your main focus.
V: Do you think it’s necessary to do that?
A: Well, I guess if you are sort of like freelance musician, then probably not. But if you consider to work, let’s say in the university, let’s say in United States, then yes, I think it’s necessary. Because when I think about any professor back in the States, each of them would have their main focus of studies. Don’t you think so? Because I don’t think it’s possible to know everything in depth, because organs, there are so many countries with different traditions and so many organ composers, and such a wide range of repertoire starting from the Middle Ages and finishing nowadays. I don’t think it’s possible to be equally good and knowledgeable in each of those spheres. Don’t you think so?
V: Well, there are a few ways to be successful in organ playing, not just one. To specialize, yes, this is one. One way to become the best in your area, in the small area, right, rather small. For example, you discover a very curious composer who didn’t receive much appreciation when he lived, or perhaps he is living now, and you could record everything that that composer wrote or writes. Become the go-to person, the expert in this music, right? And you will be known for that very, very narrow topic. That’s what Ausra is talking about. Another way is to become the first. Become the first inventor of something. For example, let’s say Harald Vogel, right?
V: I don’t know if he was the first, but to me he is the first in re-energizing focus and attention to early organs in…
V: Yes, area of The Netherlands and North Germany called Ostfriesland, with fantastic instruments and music from the manuscripts, tablatures, early performance techniques. Maybe there were other people involved in that, but he’s the most prominent figure in leading this movement - Harald Vogel, right? And what’s the third one?
A: I don’t know. You wanted to tell us, so tell us!
A: Or you forgot while talking about two others.
V: The third way is to become different. Different from anybody else that you know. For example, okay - Guillou. Jean Guillou - is he an expert in the French music? Yes he is, but so are many others. So what is he, or what was he most well-known for? Improvisations, and his own compositions.
A: But many French organists are very famous for their improvisations, so how is he different from others?
V: His style is different from others, you see?
A: Well, yeah…
V: You know that?
A: I know that, yes.
V: So be yourself. You can easily be yourself. But the problem is that you have to be yourself or stick to one particular path, one, two, or three, for a long time so that people will start noticing you.
V: Because at first they will ignore you, then they will laugh at you, then they fight you, and only then you win.
A: Yes, and I think the worst thing that might happen, that after graduation you play only the pieces you learned during your study years. I know many organists like that. Especially in Lithuania, that we have learned, let’s say 20 pieces during the study years, and we keep playing them all through life, not trying anything new. I guess you just have to keep your curiosity going, even after graduation.
V: To keep a beginner’s mind, always be prepared to accept that you don’t know everything.
A: Yes, I think that’s the main, the most important thing.
V: And be hungry for, learning new skills. Okay guys, this was Vidas.
A: And Ausra.
V: Please send us more of your questions. We love helping you grow. And remember, when you practice,
A: Miracles happen.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
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