For St. Cecilia’s Day: Organ Music from SGG!

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Segnalazione di don Anthony Cekada

Organ Music for St. Cecilia’s Day!

  • Dedication of the Organ
  • November 22, 2015
  • St. Gertrude the Great Church
  • West Chester, Ohio
  • J.S. Bach, D minor Toccata, The Dorian
  • Performed by Andrew Richesson
  • Click to listen

A NOTE ON THE MUSIC: Most people associate the phrase “Bach’s D minor Toccata” with the movie Phantom of the Opera, and the piece’s dramatic first three notes, followed by a fast downward scale. This was an early work by the young J.S. Bach. It is nicknamed “the Fiddle,” and is not considered very difficult to play.

Today’s dedicatory piece, however, is another D minor Toccata by Bach, nicknamed “The Dorian.” Bach wrote it during his mature master period, and it is considered very difficult indeed.  Here’s what to listen for:

  • The Theme:This consists of eight very fast (16th) notes that are announced immediately at the beginning. Bach relentlessly repeats the eight-note theme — at least 200 times! — in the high, middle and low ranges throughout the piece. He takes it through a series of changing keys, turns it upside down, flips it backwards, makes it sound sad at one point, solemn at another, happy at another, stretches the intervals in it, and performs a number of other astounding composer’s tricks.
  • The Bass:The rumbly bass notes on an organ are played on the pedals – a large keyboard of black and white notes beneath the organist that he plays with his feet. The organist’s feet have to fly in the Dorian Toccata because the theme is so fast. Listen for the bass.
  • The Keyboard Changes:The organist gets loud and softer contrasting sounds on the organ by changing from one keyboard to another, and then back again. In the Dorian, Bach has the organist do this at breakneck speed again and again.
  • Contrary Motion:And as if this all weren’t difficult enough, Bach has passages where the organist’s feet are going downwards in the bass, while his hands are going upwards on the keyboards, all very, very fast.

The Dorian Toccata is considered one of the great pieces of the organ repertory, and we are pleased to have it played for the dedication of our organ.

Andrew Richesson is an organ student of Dr. John A. Deaver, of the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

God bless our organists and singers! Happy St. Cecilia’s Day!

Click to listen

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