All The Stops: The Glorious Pipe Organ And Its American Mastersby Craig Whitney
For centuries, pipe organs stood at the summit of musical and technological achievement, admired as the most complex and intricate mechanisms the human race had yet devised. In All The Stops, New York Times journalist Craig Whitney journeys through the history of the American pipe organ and brings to life the curious characters who have devoted their lives/i>… See more details below
For centuries, pipe organs stood at the summit of musical and technological achievement, admired as the most complex and intricate mechanisms the human race had yet devised. In All The Stops, New York Times journalist Craig Whitney journeys through the history of the American pipe organ and brings to life the curious characters who have devoted their lives to its music.
From the mid-19th to the mid-20th century, organ music was wildly popular in America. Organ builders in New York and New England could hardly fill the huge demand for both concert hall and home organs. Master organbuilders found ingenious ways of using electricity to make them sound like orchestras. Organ players developed cult followings and bitter rivalries. One movement arose to restore to American organs the clarity and precision that baroque organs had in centuries past, while another took electronic organs to the rock concert halls, where younger listeners could be found. But while organbuilders and organists were fighting with each other, popular audiences lost interest in the organ.
Today, organs are beginning to make a comeback in concert halls and churches across America. Craig Whitney brings the story to life and up to date in a humorous, engaging book about the instruments and vivid personalities that inspired his lifelong passion: the great art of the majestic pipe organ.
Hear the sounds of some of the pipe organs featured in ALL THE STOPS
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The pipe organ - 'the King of Instruments' -- has long been worshiped by Bach lovers but underappreciated by other classical music fans. At music conservatories, organists have been outsiders joined by a common passion. All that may be changing thanks to a pipe organ renaissance underway in this country and swell of interest generated by this book. Organist and New York Times writer and editor Craig Whitney clearly knows how to tell a good story. Rather than turn out a muddled and boring history with every name, place and date, he tracks the competing ideas and conflicting personalities of America's top organ builders (Edward Skinner, Donald Harrison, Charles Fisk) and its two most influential performers ('purist' Powerful Biggs and 'showman' Virgil Fox). It's a dramatic story of clashing egos, cultural shifts, economic realities and esthetic choices. As a Bach organist, I long wished for this book but thought it a 'pipe dream.'
I received this book as a Christmas present this past year. It didn't take me long to read it from cover to cover! Whitney provides a great history of the pipe organ from E.M. Skinner's era up through today, including two very informational biograpies of both E. Power Biggs and Virgil Fox, the organ showmen of the 20th century. I would highly recommend this book to anyone even remotely interested in the pipe organ. Whitney has a very easy writing style to read, often incorporating definitions of the organ terms he uses as he goes along. He also includes a glossary of other terms at the end for further clarification. I thoroughly enjoyed this book!
A lively written volume on the history of American organbuilding and organculture. As a Dutch amateur on the organ, and having therefore the privilege to live in a country with many of the finest organs in the world, i welcome very much such well written texts on a subject many european organ lovers detest. Many times i encounter the phrase: "organs in the US ? Are there really any organs in the U.S. ?" etc. Fortunately no academic speech here whatsoever, no voluminous databases. The choice of the author to choose the lifes and deaths of the most famous builders and organists to tell the story makes the whole subject heartily come to life. Whatever one may think of American organs, organculture or organists, i surely learned something about it and enjoyed it very much as a kind of introduction on the subject. Highly recommended !