PipeChat Digest #5326 - Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Eastern Europe - Hungarian Organs (Part 1)
  by "Colin Mitchell" <cmys13085@yahoo.co.uk>
Re: Non-Greek organic words
  by <AGODRDANB@aol.com>
words for organ
  by "Dennis Steckley" <kzrev@rr1.net>
Re: Cross Posted with Permission: Teach them how to play church organ
  by <jonkroepel@insightbb.com>
Re: Seeking a scholarly text on Registration of Reger
  by <jonkroepel@insightbb.com>
A note of thanks (cross posted)
  by "Stephen Roberts" <sroberts01@snet.net>
Organ Nonsense
  by "Nathan Smith" <erzahler@sbcglobal.net>
Re: Questions I have about Mono Recordings
  by "Channing Ashbaugh" <channinga@carolina.rr.com>
Organ builders: your opinion, please
  by "jlinger@snet.net" <jlinger@aya.yale.edu>
Re: Seeking a scholarly text on Registration of Reger
  by "Colin Mitchell" <cmys13085@yahoo.co.uk>
RE: Organ Nonsense
  by "TheShieling" <TheShieling@xtra.co.nz>
Teach them how to play hymns
  by <RMB10@aol.com>

(back) Subject: Eastern Europe - Hungarian Organs (Part 1) From: "Colin Mitchell" <cmys13085@yahoo.co.uk> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 18:08:28 -0700 (PDT)   Hello,   The problems of delving into Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, Romanian, Polish and Bulgarian organ history and culture are many; not least the linguistic problems associated with machine translations. When certain things translate wrongly, such as "Book wood" for the organ-builder Buckholz, the corruption is not very difficult to work out, but when "blunder egg" arrives in translation, the task becomes difficult and amusing in equal measure.   The most obvious place to start my investigation was the former Czechoslovakia: now divided amicably between the new Czech Republic and the newly independent, and very beautiful country of Slovakia. Due to cultural interchanges, the whole region, including the former Czechoslovakia and Hungary (especially under communist rule), shared the products from the organ-builders active in each country. Thus, there are a number of Czechoslovakian made Rieger-Kloss instruments in Hungary: this being the most significant organ-building company in the region and by far the most successful.   However, it is to Hungary that I turn first, for there is a diversity and richness in Hungarian organ-building which is not found in quite the same way anywhere else in the former Eastern European communist-bloc. One might be forgiven for thinking that Hungarian organs owe their allegiance to the Austrian tradition, but this is only partly true. On further investigation, it appears that there is a very strong French Romantic influence directly from the factory of Cavaille-Coll, with whom certain Hungarian organ-builders studied or served apprenticeships.   Perhaps the most celebrated name in Hungarian organ-history is that of Joseph Angster, and the following brief biography, translated as best I could from the Hungarian, reads as follows:-   -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-   Joseph Angster was born on July 7th 1834 in Kacsfalun (now known as Jagodnak, in Croatia) of a German family. It is known that he journeyed for ten years around Europe, during which time he studied the organ building traditions of Germany and Austria. On his second journey, he worked with the great French master, Aristide Cavaille-Coll in Paris between 1863 and 1866, and carried out work to the organs of Notre Dame and St.Trinite, Paris.   In 1869, he returned to Hungary; setting up an organ-building company in Pecsett. His first organ (op.1) was a great success, and established his credentials as a fine young organ-builder. Jose[h Angster died on June 9th, 1918; the company handed to Emily and Oscar Angster.   The large organ-building factory turned out over 1200 organs, including the famous and most respected organs at the Minster, Budapest., The minster at Gyor and elsewhere.   Under the communist regime, the factory closed and the great gandson of Joseph Angster was jailed by the Russian authorities for owning a business!   The factory site was re-opened in 1998 as the Pecsi organ-building concern which still exists to-day. Nevertheless, the stop-lists resemble their German or Austrian counterparts for the most part; proving that appearances can be deceptive.   -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o--   The fact that Catholicism is the stable, accepted religion of Hungary, means that the Cathedrals, Doms and Churches are landmark buildings; more often than not built in elaborate baroque style, with acres of marble and an ample supply of domes and barrel vaulting. It goes without saying, that the acoustics are often enormously resonant, and the organs usually situated in the ideal West End gallery position.   Whilst new parish organs and older extant baroque instrument a special subject in their own rights, it is to the very large instruments that one is instantly drawn....and some of them are monumentally big!   The following is the largest organ in Hungary:-     Szeged: Fogadalmi Templom (The Votive church)   5 Manual, 182 Ranks, 140 Register   1930 erbaut von Emily Angster (H) 2002 repairs and partial restoration by P=E9csi Orgona=E9p=EDt=F5 - Pecsi Organ Company (Hungary) New 5-manual console controlling three organs - electro-pneumatic action     Hauptorgel   I. Hauptwerk   Praestant 16 Bourdon 16 Principal 8 Gemshorn 8 Fl=FBte harmonique 8 Weitgedeckt 8 Octav 4 Nachthorn 4 Quint 2 2/3 Superoctav 2 Koppelfl=F6te 2 Rauschpfeife IV Mixtur VI Trompete 16 Trompete 8 Clarinet 4 + Tremulant   II. Positiv   Quintadena 16 Principal 8 Spitzfl=F6te 8 Gedeckt 8 Salicional 8 Principal 4 Gemshorn 4 Rohrfl=F6te 4 Gemsquint 2 2/3 Octav 2 Blockfl=F6te 2 Piccolo 2 Terz 1 3/5 Larigot 1 1/3 Septim 1 1/7 Schwiegel 1 Quart II Acuta IV Sordun 16 Krummhorn 8 Regal 4 + Tremulant     III. Schwellwerk Rohrfl=F6te 16 Diapason 8 Nachthorn 8 Traversfl=F6te 8 Rohrbourdon 8 Viola di Gamba 8 Vox coelestis 8 Principal 4 Koppelfl=F6te 4 Violine 4 Koppelquint 2 2/3 Octav 2 Waldfl=F6te 2 Cornett III-V Siffl=F6ten II Cimbel III Dulcian 16 Trompette harmonique 8 Oboe 8 Trichterregal 4 + Schweller + Tremulant     IV. Seitenwerk Nachthorngedeckt 8 Quintadena 8 Flauta 4 Flachfl=F6te 2 Harmoniques II Quart II Rankett 16 Clarinet 8 + Celesta + Tremulant   V. Bombardewerk   Gro=DFquint 5 1/3 Gro=DFterz 3 1/5 Schriari VIII Bombard 16   V. Solowerk   Seraphon Bourdon 16 Seraphon Fl=F6te 8 Sologamba 8 Doppelfl=F6te 4 Tuba mirabilis 8 Cor harmonique 4 + Tremulant   Pedal   Bourdon 32 Principalbass 16 Subbass 16 Contrabass 16 Rohrquint 10 2/3 Octavbass 8 Dolkan 8 Nachthorngedeckt 8 Quint 5 1/3 Choralbass 4 Spitzfl=F6te 4 Quint 2 2/3 Superoctav 2 Flautino 1 Harmoniques II Mixtur IV Sordun 32 Posaune 16 Fagott 16 Trompete 8 Clairon 4 Cornett 2     Chororgel   I. Hauptwerk   Quintat=F6n 16 Italienischer Principal 8 Trichterfl=F6te 8 Fl=FBte octaviante 4 Nachthorn 4 Quint 2 2/3 Tibia aperta 2 Ripieno V Trompete 8 II. Schwellwerk   Geigenprincipal 8 Flauta 8 Unda Maris 8 Italienische Octav 4 Spitzgedeckt 4 Nasat 2 2/3 Fl=F6te 2 Terz 1 3/5 Larigot 1 1/3 Flageolet 1 Cimbel III Regal 8 + Schweller + Tremulant     Pedal   Apertabass 16 Subbass 16 Octavbass 8 Gedecktbass 8 Quint 5 1/3 Quintadena 4 Bourdon harmonique 2 Posaune 16     Kuppelorgel   Manual   Bourdon 16 Diapason 8 Rohrfl=F6te 8 Vox angelica II 8 Flachfl=F6te 4 Fugara 4 Flageolet 2 Plein Jeu IV Trompette 8 Vox humana 8 + Tremulant   Pedal   Echobass 16 Flauta 8 Choralbass 4 Fagott 16     Designed by Mr Josef Geyer, Organ Tutor to the Ferenc Liszt Academy, the original intention was to create four organs which could be controlled from one large console. The main "High" or "Hauptorgel" and the "Coupler Organ" were ready in 1930 (V/101 Opus 1050) for an inaugural concert. In 1931, work was completed on the enlargement of the main instrument by three registers and the completion of the "Chororgel" (II/32) playable also from the 5-manual console, made this the largest organ in Hungary, and one of the most significant instruments in Europe. The fourth section of the planned instrument; a Crypt-orgel (I/21), was never made. With the closure of the Angster company after the communist takeover of Hungary, there were constant worries about the state of the instrument. By the year 2000, the reliability of the huge console was causing concern, and with the support of the City Administration, the diocese of Szegeder-Csanader gave financial support for the provision of a new mobile console.     The new console was dedicated on that 20th April 2002 by prof. Dr. Johann Trummer with an organ concert.   Unfortunately, the provision of a new console has not solved the ongoing problems associated with the complex construction of the instrument and the passage of time. The only solution will be to carry out further, extensive work to the instrument in the future.   -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-   A more modest, but fascinating design is to be found at Pasaret, where Varadi Organs have built an economical design which has just about everything; including a 32ft Bombarde!   The following is taken from the Varadi website:-   The Varadi company covers four generations; the founder being Mr. J=F3zsef V=E1radi who started building organs in Kolzsvar in the middle of the 19th century.   Mikl=F3s V=E1radi (1883-1962) his son, started his technical training in his father=B4s firm. Having finished school, and already obtained his certificate in organ-building competence, he went to Budapest, where he worked for the firm of S=E1ndor Orsz=E1gh whom he regarded as modern organ-builders. In 1912 he became the foreman of the firm, and in 1918 he became the member of the Hunga- rian Society of Organology. When the first world war broke out he joined up, but on the request of Orsz=E1gh, as an indispensable worker, he was demobilized. In 1920 he opened his own firm, with modern machinery and work- shop, employing 10-20 workers. Prior to nationalization during the communist regime, he built 101 mechanical and pneumatic action organs.   After nationalization his machines and stockpile was confiscated, but he was allowed to do repairs and enlargements.   His two sons Mikl=F3s V=E1radi (1919-1970) and Ott=F3 V=E1radi (1922 - ) also chose the same profession. Mikl=F3s was working in his fathers firm. After nationalization he was working in the City=B4s Musical Instruments Ma- kers Company, in the organ building section, but later he gave up the profession. Ott=F3 more or less followed the same line, but af- ter being an English prisoner of war, he was regarded as "class alien" and as such, didn't get employment for a long time.   In 1963 he had his masters certificate and he faced the odium of a trade which was graded as, "clerical". In 1994 the Hungarian Society of Musical Instruments re- warded his efforts with the Golden Wreath Prize.   The youngest member of the dynasty is Istv=E1n V=E1radi (1958) who followed his father after 1972. He got his journeyman=B4s certificate in 1975 and his master certificate in 1983. In 1976-77 he pursued his studies in Germany, in Gotha, Merseburg, Dresden, Bautzen and Potsdam. After his return, father and son worked closely together.   Since 1981 he re-established contacts with the German Laukhuff firm. . Since 1984 the name of the firm is V=E1radi and Son.   A new era came, after the introduction of the Cavaille-Coll pupils organ (Dom Lade- gast of Swering). The attraction towards the french model of the tone ideal, prompted the firm to establish new business contacts, this time with the Killinger reed-pipe manu- facturers.   In 1989 a new workshop was built. With the participation of electrical/electronic engineers, the use of electrical engineering became em- ployable. Today the staff of nine has four organ builder trade-workers, three joiners, and two apprentices. Stephen V=E1radi teaches organ techni- cal knowledge since 1993 at the School of Instrumental Music of the Franz Liszt Academy. He is member of the Society of Instrumental Music, President of the Master Certificate Commitee of Organ Builders, President of the Ethical Commitee of the Buda- pest Chamber of Craftsman and board member of the organ section in the Hungarian Society of Church Music.   Important work has included the Cathedral of Kalocsa, the Cathedral of P=E9cs, in Budapest; the Saint Stephen Basilica, the City Parish, the Karmelita Church, the New Piarist Chapel. The Karmelita Basilica Minor at Keszthely and the Protestant Parish at Veresegyh=E1z.   V=E1radi and Son are the first Hungarian organ builders who are members of the Inter- national Society of Organbuilders (1998).   -o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o   It is interesting that the French Romantic style is obviously in vogue in Hungary, as it has been since the 19th century.   The organ below has many obvious elements of the Romantic tradition, but appears to adhere to the principles of "classical" organ building at the same time.   Varadi Organ - Greyfriar Church at Pasaret Design: Varadi and Son     Hauptwerk C-a'''   Bourdon 16' Praestant 8' Flute Harm. 8' Bleigedackt 8' Octave 4' Rohrfl=F6te 4' Superoctav 2' Mixtur 2' 6rks Trompete 8'     I/II, I/III   Schwellwerk C-a'''   Cor de Nuit 8' Gambe 8' Violprincipal 4' Flute Travers 4' Sesquialtera 2 2/3' + 1 3/5' Flute conique 2' Fourniture 1 1/3' 5x Basson 16' Hautbois 8' Clairon 4' Tremulant   Pozitivwerk C-a'''   Holzgedackt 8' Salicional 8' Praestant 4' Koppelfl=F6te 4' Doublette 2' Piccolo 1' Scharff 1' 4rks Krummhorn 8'     Pedal C-f'   Contrabass 16' Subbass 16 Quintbass 10 2/3' Octavbass 8' Gedacktbass 8' Choralbass 4' Mixturbass 2 2/3' 3rks Bombarde 32' Bombarde 16'     P/I, P/II, P/III   Well that's enough for now, but it is obvious from even preliminary investigations, that the organ culture of Eastern Europe has not only survived the blight of communism, but now seems to re-emerging with vigour, judging by the number of organs built in recent years.   More to follow!   Regards,   Colin Mitchell UK   PS: Doens't ANYONE know what a "blunder egg" is?           __________________________________ Yahoo! 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(back) Subject: Re: Non-Greek organic words From: <AGODRDANB@aol.com> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 21:11:43 EDT   Hello list; Here is a bit of trivia, it may come in handy when you are = on Jeapordy! This is another organ word, unfortunately it is also from the =   Greek "Hydrolus" considered to be the earliest form of pipe organ. = Was a weapon, in the same way that the Bagpipe, and arguably the acordian are. It was on a large wagon affair that was wheeled into battle, = it consisted of a large water resivoir, and a table top with a = hole in it, the water was let from one vessel creating a vaccuum, =   and the air rushed into the table top, the operator would hold = clay vessels which were large whistles of sorts, and the horrible = sound was supposed to scare the enemy. I am sure this would be a at Least a $400.00 question! Weird musical facts for $400.00 Alex please! regards to all! Dr. Dan  
(back) Subject: words for organ From: "Dennis Steckley" <kzrev@rr1.net> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 20:21:59 -0500   I can't comment on "organ," but I understand that Icelandic has a word for "train," even though there are NO trains in Iceland! Guess it would be handy in translating documents. The late Karl Haas always pronounced organ with three syllables-like the state, Oregon! Dennis Steckley For I am possessed of a cat, surpassing in beauty, from whom I take occasion to bless Almighty God.  
(back) Subject: Re: Cross Posted with Permission: Teach them how to play church organ From: <jonkroepel@insightbb.com> Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 01:31:30 +0000   I agree with all of the points listed, but I am more concerned with organists playing the right notes, right rhythms, and keeping a steady = tempo. One thing that will cause the congregation to stop singing is if they = can't feel a basic pulse.   There is more that I can write about on this topic, but I will not subject anyone to a long post on the matter.   Jon Kroepel  
(back) Subject: Re: Seeking a scholarly text on Registration of Reger From: <jonkroepel@insightbb.com> Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 01:32:58 +0000   A rather new book, "Max Reger and Karl Straube: Perspectives on an organ performing tradition" by Christopher Anderson discusses Karl Strabe and his relationship to Max Reger. As many of you know, Straube was a man who =   championed many of Reger's works and worked closely with Regar on his music. The book is quite lengthy, but I think you will find the = information you want in this book.   Jon Kroepel  
(back) Subject: A note of thanks (cross posted) From: "Stephen Roberts" <sroberts01@snet.net> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 18:35:31 -0700 (PDT)   Dear List Friends, Thanks to Pieter Visser, my good friend Malcolm Wechsler, Jon = Bertschinger, Roy Redman, David Fabry, and Jon C. for their very helpful = and informative answers to my inquiry about the replacement cost of a = particular instrument. I hope that I haven't forgotten anyone who = answered my questions! I really appreciate your help. I now have the = information I need, so it's not necessary for anyone else to respond, = unless they wish to do so. This list is great! Thanks again, guys! Best, Stephen Roberts  
(back) Subject: Organ Nonsense From: "Nathan Smith" <erzahler@sbcglobal.net> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 21:35:40 -0400   Hi list,   In an effort to lighten up today, I post the following question:   What is the funniest silly organ stop name you can come up with? For example, 8' Open Gedeckt, 8' Aeoline Profunda, 8' Dulciana Magna, or even 8' Krummhorn Celeste....   - Nate    
(back) Subject: Re: Questions I have about Mono Recordings From: "Channing Ashbaugh" <channinga@carolina.rr.com> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 21:40:50 -0400   Hello everyone     I have some questions about Mono recordings I have heard Carillon CDs = for carillon CD Players are recorded in mono and if you put these mono recordings in a cd player like a computer cd-rom or a jambox it would = sound slow I have interest in hearing a mono recording that sounds slow I am doing a report on this . Has anyone ever heard a mono recorded CD play = slow before? Has anyone ever tried makeing some mp3s or a wav file from a mono recorded cd? If you know the answers please e-mail me at channing28270@yahoo.com   channing    
(back) Subject: Organ builders: your opinion, please From: "jlinger@snet.net" <jlinger@aya.yale.edu> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 21:46:30 -0400   Another angle would be to buy an instrument and have it restored. You = could do a quality the restoration for 150k.     Joe Linger 460 Central Ave New Haven, CT 06515-2208   http://linger.dyndns.org    
(back) Subject: Re: Seeking a scholarly text on Registration of Reger From: "Colin Mitchell" <cmys13085@yahoo.co.uk> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 18:48:16 -0700 (PDT)   Hello,   Reger poses enormous problems; not least because he wasn't much of an organist at all, and relied heavily on Karl Straube to perform and interpret his works.   Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that Reger, when playing his own works, would often "thumb down" to highlight a chorale theme, even where such is not marked on the manuscript.   Another problem arises with the thickness of the writing, which is more pianistic than orgel very often. The net result on many American/Anglican instruments is a muddy screed of sound which often obscures the many ingenious contrapuntal devices employed, as well as the tonal architecture. Thus, there is a case for artistic licence and a certain "thinning-down" of the block textures and doublings.   I believe it to absoluitely vital to have a FULL understanding of German instruments, and the use of the rollschweller rather than swell-shutters, which could produce many subtle gradiations of tone and texture on a romantic German instrument, with their abundance of pp-mf registers.   Reger was, all his lfe, fascinated by the music of Bach, and I feel sure that he would have been very interested in the work of the Organ Reform Movement, of which Straube was a fully paid-up member. If there is but ONE organ-builder who best served the music of Reger, then it has to be Steinmeyer in their neo-classical phase.   I always think that Reger composed a little bit like Bruckner did for orchestra, with planned changes of "registration" at strategic moments rather than the dovetailing of more accomplished orchestral writers. In other words, the music tends to be in block-structures with distinctly seperate passages or "events."   I don't have my copy of the paper to hand, but there was an excellent article about Reger published in "The Diapason" some years ago, of which I have somewhere a copy.   It is a wonderful article which I would highly commend.   If anyone can locate this article, I feel sure that Desiree would be delighted to know of it.   A further point about German organs. The best of them often have a fairly transparent quality about them, but also, very substantial basses, relatively thin sounding reeds and lots of mutations. Keen string tone is not usually a feature of German organs from any age, but there is usually to be found a wonderful array of flute registers, quieter reeds and registers of the Vox Angelica type (usually with matchng undulants).   I'll see if I can find the article when I find time.   Regards,   Colin Mitchell UK             --- Desiree' <nicemusica@yahoo.com> wrote: > I am seeking a title to a scholarly text regarding > the registration of Reger's works. > Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.       __________________________________ Do you Yahoo!? Yahoo! Mail - Helps protect you from nasty viruses. http://promotions.yahoo.com/new_mail  
(back) Subject: RE: Organ Nonsense From: "TheShieling" <TheShieling@xtra.co.nz> Date: Wed, 11 May 2005 14:07:57 +1200   > What is the funniest silly organ stop name you can come up with? For example, 8' Open Gedeckt, 8' Aeoline Profunda, 8' Dulciana Magna, or even 8' Krummhorn Celeste....   Well, I have reed organ knob that says "Perfection."   Some of the common knobs are equally daft. Just think of "Heavenly Voice" = or "Leg" or "Human Voice" or "High Wood" when translated back into Voix Celeste, Gamba, Vox Humana or Oboe..............   One stop I saw, an ordinary stopt flute of wood, was labelled "Flauto Gedacht".   Making one up, how about a 32ft Diaphonic Salicet?   Ross    
(back) Subject: Teach them how to play hymns From: <RMB10@aol.com> Date: Tue, 10 May 2005 22:41:56 EDT   Dsiree' posted:   A student who is graduating from a MAJOR east coast conservatory and taking up doctoral studies at a MAJOR New York City conservatory = interviewed forthe position. Part of the audition was to transpose a congregational song, and to improvise. The transposition was asked of a piece which had melody notes and chord symbols, transposed down a step. The candidate = could not doit. The improvisation was simply to continue playing SOMETHING = after the hymn was finished, to cover the incensing of the altar. The candidate rather proudly announced that he does not improvise, and in such a situation he would play a piece of composed music.   I think that all would agree that these are BASIC skills for any well trained organist (perhaps arguably any musician - period).       While these are necessary skills for a church organists, the MOST = important skill is hymn playing. The number of organists who can not keep a steady = beat is absolutely astounding. In my role as a funeral director, I have the opportunity to hear many more =   organists than the usual church musician does. I have heard organists = from many different denominations and on different types of organs in different = types of settings, but the ones who can actually play a steady hymn and make it exciting seem to be few and far between.   There are people who sit at organ consoles, press keys and call themselves =   "organists", but they are more like noisemakers, attempting to lead congregations in song. It's no wonder that congregations do not sing and = that churches are opting to go to contemporary music in the hopes that congregational participation will increase. These so called organists do not know how to = register the instrument, they don't know how to keep a steady beat (sometimes I = wonder if they know what a beat is!), and they don't know how to lead. Quite often, =   the congregation leads the organist. Hymn playing is the skill that needs = to be honed BEFORE skills like transposition and improvisation.   We have people who brag about their skills of hymn playing, but after = hearing some of them play, I wonder where they learned to do it. Fanfares, flourishes, and arpeggios are exciting when properly used, but when they = mask the inadequacies that lurk beneath the surface they do nothing but confuse the =   congregation more. A hymn needs to be rock steady at all times. The hymn = is the congregation's time to shine, not the organist's time to lead the = congregation astray. I've seen congregations put hymnals back in the pew rack because = they were so flustered from the poor hymn playing. The time between verses = needs to be clear. The rests need to be given full value. Tempos can't be too = rushed, nor can they be too sluggish. Free harmonizations can be used to add excitement, but if they are so complex that the congregation and choir are = lost, they've done more harm than good. Hymn playing is an art form that many people just don't care about. It = seems as if some organists just think of hymns as an afterthought or as a time = for the organist to show off.   When I first started organ lessons as a child, I had to play every hymn in =   the hymnal with a metronome. I had to play the hymn in 4 part harmony as written, then I had to break it apart playing the soprano as a solo, the = alto and tenor in my left hand, the bass in the pedal. Then I had to solo the alto = out, play the tenor and soprano in one hand, bass in the pedal. Then I had to = play the tenor as a solo, with the soprano and alto in the right hand, against = the bass. Once I had it fully learned that way, my teacher made me play it as =   written and improvise a descant. Then came improvising interludes and modulations. After I had gone through the Hymnal 1940, he made me learn = all the hymns in every key I could, saying that there would be times that I would have a =   soloist who could possibly come and request any hymn to be played in some = far out key at any time and I had to be ready to do it at the drop of a hat. When = I was a kid, I didn't think anything of it, I was too young to think about = it or be scared about it, but I had a teacher who drilled me on it. He would assign 5 or 6 hymns a week for me to work on like that.   Playing them with a metronome made my hymn playing rock solid--nothing = could shake me. Even as a 11 year old playing in church, I never got distracted = and had my tempi shaken because I was so sure of the inner pulse of the hymn.   I agree that improvisation is a very important skill, but following a = hymn, one can always doodle around on themes from the hymn and fake it, but if = the hymns aren't good, the whole service can suffer. There are some websites = out there that have recordings of hymns on them and it's a shame that these = homemade recordings have been posted. I would be embarrassed to have posted some = of the things I've heard--erratic rhythms, unsteady tempi, while bragging = about the caliber of the playing. On the other hand, some of the professional = hymns that have been recorded show off how exciting a good player can be. An exciting hymn draws a congregation into singing, while a poorly played = hymn sends the congregation away from singing and makes them put the hymnal away. We = gripe about churches wanting to use contemporary music, but I wonder if we = organists haven't driven them to that direction by our playing?   Just a thought...     Monty Bennett