In June 2019, members of Boston Organ Studio, together with friends from McGill University, travelled to Germany to explore this country’s rich pipe organ landscape. Through visits to influential and historic instruments, the repertoire we study was enhanced and our knowledge increased. In masterclasses with leaders in our field, our perspectives on performance were broadened.
Beginning in the region around Lübeck and Hamburg, we visited some of the most important 17th-century instruments in Europe — including the famous 1673 Stellwagen organ in St. Jakobi (Lübeck) together with its resident organist, Prof. Arvid Gast. Nearby, we encountered the tremendous 19th-century Ladegast organ in Schwerin, an instrument perfect for the German romantic repertoire of Rheinberger and Liszt.
Continuing through Berlin to Leipzig, we engaged the music and environment of our instrument’s greatest composer, Johann Sebastian Bach. Amidst the activities of Bachfest (a tremendous festival happening concurrently in the city of Leipzig), we visited the Thomaskirche, where Bach served for much of his career and hear his music performed by the world’s greatest Baroque specialists. We played instruments Bach himself helped to envision, with original keyboards he must have also played. We encountered the 1904 Sauer organ in Michaeliskirche, widely considered to be the perfect instrument for the music of Max Reger, and played the mammoth Ladegast instrument in Merseburg, which served as muse for the likes of Franz Liszt and Julius Reubke.
Through it all, we grew as musicians, scholars, and colleagues. Thank you for your interest in this experience!