intellectual vanities… about close to everything

Helmut Walcha: J. S. Bach Orgelwerke/ Organ Works

leave a comment »

J. S. Bach Orgelwerke/ Organ Works. Orgeln/ organs: Lübeck, St. Jakobi; Cappel, St. Peter & Paul; Cembalo/ harpsichord(Ammer) Hamburg.


Perhaps it is no exageration to believe that withouth Helmut Walcha’s (1927-1991) Johann Sebastian Bach‘s organ music would not be as popular as it is nowadays.

At his death, in 1991, Wolf Eberhard von Lewinski noted: “The history of organ interpretation of the 20. century cannot be thought without Helmut Walcha.” He was the one, who on historically conceived organs paved the way from the romantic tradition towards a new perception of Bach’s music. Bach’s polyphony with its strong laws and substantial structure in every voice has fascinated Walcha throughout his life. “Bach’s instrumental music is dominated by strong vocal forces. Only regarding the vocal aspect pays Bach due justice: he is singing on the instrument and plays the voice”, he wrote. This was a new and formative approach. “While singing, one must breathe. Hence I demand that one sings along with polyphony.”

“I saw that Bach’s polyphony is a many-voiced structure of unbelievable intrinsic logic. I believe that it leads man to contemplation. He must needs turn his view inside, from outside there is nothing coming towards him.

“Registration has to follow musical phrase in its choice of colour. As long as a motive is leading, it stays with one tone colour, at the subsequent motive change of colour indicates, that something new is happening.

He had his reserves about romanticism and did refuse to play or teach Reger. He refused integrating Reger’s music with his own view upon polyphony. His main focus was Bach, while paying credit to the old masters and to a few new composers like Hessenberg or Hindemith. This focus, perhaps in part due to his blindness, led to great artistic expressivity and authority as well. For a long time he used to be “The Bach specialist” par excellence.

He was distinguished with the Goethe-Plakette der Stadt Frankfurt am Main in 1957 and later with the große Bundesverdienstkreuz mit Stern.

He was fermly opinionated in musical issues, but he was tolerant enough in front of contradicting standpoints, even if he was not ready to share them. In 1981 Walcha finished is public activity with a concert in Dreikönigskirche at the summit of his carreer – a step of unusual human dimension.

Twice in during his lifetime did Walcha record Bach’s complete works: finished 1947 and 1971 creating touchstones.for all later interpretations.

The discussed collecion presents most carefully mastered mono and stereo recordings. The cornerstone is Walcha’s strong, technically hyperclean und unbelievably virtuosic interpretation, rendered masterfully by the mastering. Such an interpretation is most rare among the countless collections of Bach’s complete works.

Walchas biography

born: 27 Oktober 1907 in Leipzig,

died: 11. August 1991 in Frankfurt

In Leipzig he used to study with Günther Ramin und Günther Raphael. At the age of 19 he turned completely blind, after his eye sight weakening since the age of 16. As long as possible he vehemently studied organ literature by the heart. Later, his wife Ursual would play new works voice by voice, and he would combine them in his mind — an enigmatic and astounding memory performance.

From 1926 to 1929 Walcha was organist at St. Thomas in Leipzig, 1929 organist at Friedenskirche in Frankfurt/ Main, from 1933 teacher at Hoch’sches Konservatorium, from 1938 Professor at Frankfurter Musikhochschule, from 1946 to 1981 Organist at Dreikönigskirche Frankfurt/M.walcha150.jpg

Written by huehueteotl

May 16, 2007 at 11:19 pm

Posted in HIV, Music

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: