In Search of the Secrets of Medieval Organs

Medieval OrganIn Search of the Secrets of Medieval Organs

David Rumsey



On Friday and Saturday, June 9 and 10, 2012, a concert and workshop focusing on the medieval organ were held at the Basel (Switzerland) Peterskirche. They dealt with concepts, designs, rep- ertoire and the medieval organ used in ensemble.1 Another symposium and series of concerts was later organized in and around East Friesland (Rhede), commencing Monday, September 3, 2012, running until Sunday, September 9, dealing with much the same topics.2 Some instruments and participants were common to both events. Elsewhere Kim- berly Marshall played and held courses in Sion (Switzerland) during October 2012. Other events in Europe during the summer of 2012 dedicated to the medi- eval organ included one arranged by Jos van der Giessen in the Netherlands.

Kimberly Marshall’s 1989 book, Iconographical Evidence for the Late- Medieval Organ in French, Flemish and English Manuscripts, was of seminal influence to much of this blossoming cul- ture. It was the most oft-quoted work at the Basel and Rhede conferences. A col- loquium in 1995 at Royaumont (France), two years after an 11th-century Theophilus organ had been reconstructed there by Antoine Massoni, was a most important sequel. Marcel Pérès, responsible for the Royaumont Theophilus organ, also played in Basel during August 2011. The 2012 events were significant vantage points in an ongoing search for the Holy Grail of understanding medieval organs and performance practices. They continued to push back through the 15th, 14th, 13th centuries, even to the 3rd in Rhede.


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