2012.4 |


p. 176 Peter Maus
Guy Weitz: een Belgisch organist in London
p. 190 Peter Strauven
Orgelspel in de 18de-eeuwse Zuidelijke Nederlanden
Toelichting bij de dubbel cd-uitgave van het integrale orgelwerk van Gabriël Verschraegen

p. 172 Het Louis-Benoît-Hooghuys-orgel van de sint-Jacobskerk te Brugge grestaureerd
p. 212 Het Pierre-Charles Van Peteghem-orgel in de kerk Onze-Lieve-Vrouw Bezoeking in Essene

p. 199 Nieuwe uitgaven
p. 214 Overzicht tijdschriften


Peter Maus: Guy Weitz: a belgian organist in London (1883-1970)

Guy Weitz was born in 1883 in Verviers. He studied organ and composition in Liège, later in Paris, where he came into contact with Louis Vierne, Charles-Marie Widor, Vincent d'Indy and especially Alexandre Guilmant. Upon his return to Belgium, he worked in Liège as organist and promoter for the revival of early music, a movement which at the time was still in its infancy. At the outbreak of World War I in 1914, he emigrated to London and obtained British nationality. Thanks to many remarkable concerts for war refugees as well as a few good connections, his star rose quickly in the Catholic organ world of London. From the outset, he played an important role in spreading the ideas of his Parisian teacher Alexandre Guilmant, who is widely regarded as one of the pioneers in rediscovering different sorts of Baroque and Classical organ repertoire and their respective traditions in organ building. Guy Weitz distinguished himself from the average English organist at that time through the astonishing ease he demonstrated as liturgical organist as well as bona fide concert virtuoso, spanning 500 years of organ music. His broad education and vision led to an intensive collaboration with builder Willlis. Together they were a breath of fresh air amidst the ultra-conservative, post-Victorian English organ world between 1900-1930. 

Weitz's influence and fame reached its peak during the 1930s: his recitals were well-attended and regularly broadcast over the radio, he was one of the first organists in England who ventured into recordings, and as a composer he produced a diverse oeuvre wherein organ music played a central role. His composition style evolved homogeneously and progressively throughout his life, initially with a Franckian influence, and later, through the symphonic tradition of Widor and Vierne, into a neoclassical idiom.

From a modern perspective, the most important legacy of Guy Weitz is not only in his colorful compositional legacy but principally through his mark on organ building due to his influence on organ builders Henry Willis (of the same company) and Donald Harrison, the latter of which before 1930 also worked with Willis. Donald Harrison was head of the American of Aeolian-Skinner organ builders from 1930 to 1956. He never once doubted that his contact with Guy Weitz was crucial in the development of his own views on organ building, leading to the subsequent widespread success of the neoclassical organ in the USA, in particular the prosperity of the Aeolian-Skinner firm.

Although Weitz still enjoys some notoriety in certain British and American organ circles, he never really gained foothold in his native Belgium. Ironically enough his musical legacy was not only influenced but indeed overwhelmed by the early music movement that he once promoted. As a 'true Belgian' with - so it seems - an innate sense for first-rate (in this case artistic) compromise, however, he more than made his mark: his balanced, widely documented vision of the organ tradition does not only live in his compositions alone (with his First Symphony as a unique representative of a hybrid organ writing style in which English and French symphonic traditions were subtly combined) but also in some English and American organs still famous today.

Peter Strauven: The 18th century keyboard repertoire in het southern Netherlands

This contribution highlights a few devices that formed the current image of 18th century keyboard repertoire in the southern Netherlands. The contrived dichotomy between 'harpsichord' and 'organ' instruments in literary context, liturgical use, and the irregular occurrence of registration instructions form an inadequate means of classifying this repertoire. This repertoire is additionally laden with aesthetic and stylistic characteristics which could not apply in the 18th century. Similarly, a comparison of these with the works of 'major composers' goes askew as we determine on the basis of physical manuscripts that some of these composers were completely unknown to the southern Dutch keyboardist. When we detach the repertoire from prevailing negative views, however, there are a number of trends that suggest a great deal of flexibility. We discuss two such here: the performance of chamber music on a keyboard instrument and the (also internationally situated) adaptation of the keyboard sonata with accompaniment. Can we say that organ music becomes 'organ music' at the moment the musician, with his broad repertoire taken from all imaginable genres, performs it as such on the organ? Certainly further research will continue to refine our opinion of organ playing and its repertoire.

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