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Release: Aug. 24, 2001
Organist Disselhorst to open faculty recital series
Organist Delbert Disselhorst will open the 2001-2002
season of faculty recitals at the University of Iowa School of Music with
a performance at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7 in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.
His performance will be free and open to the public.
Disselhorst, appearing at the top of the fall faculty
recital schedule, will open and close his program with a composer who, for
many organists, stands at the top of the list of European composers: J.S.
Bach. Disselhorst will play Bachs Fantasy and Fugue in G minor, S.542,
to open the program, and the Prelude and Fugue in E minor, S.548, to close
Between these bookends, he will play a set of organ
chorales by Helmut Walcha, who was Disselhorsts teacher in Germany,
as well as the Theme and Variations in A-flat major by Johann Friedrich Ludwig
Thiele and the Suite for Organ of American composer Leo Sowerby.
"The two Bach works reflect diverse influences
from two different periods in Bachs life," Disselhorst said. "The
Fantasy in g minor is modeled on the fantastic style of Bachs
older north German contemporaries, in which brilliant improvisatory writing
contrasts with imitative sections. The fugue, which may not originally have
been paired with the fantasy, may have originated as an improvisation for
a Hamburg organ position Bach sought in 1720.
"The Prelude and Fugue in e minor was written
later, during Bachs Leipzig years. It is sometimes referred to as the
Wedge, due to the expanding chromatic nature of the fugue subject.
It is the longest of all the organ preludes and fugues. The Prelude has three
distinct themes, and the fugue is a da capo fugue with the initial
section repeated exactly at the end.
The middle portion is less a fugue than a brilliant
improvisation with the fugue subject appearing here and there simply as a
Helmut Walcha was a distinguished teacher, concert
and recording artist, composer, and dedicated church musician in Frankfurt
am Main, Germany, where he was active from 1929 until his death in 1991. As
a young organ student, Disselhorst received a Fulbright grant to study with
Walcha in Frankfurt.
Walcha composed 81 settings of well-known chorales.
Intended as introductions to the singing of the chorales by the congregation,
these pieces also are representative of the art of chorale improvisation for
which Walcha was extremely well known.
Thiele was organist at a church in Berlin from 1839
until his death in 1848 and the age of only 32. Although his 10 concert works
for organ were performed by leading German and American organists at the end
of the 19th century and in the early years of the 20th century, they gradually
disappeared from the repertoire. After years of
neglect they are being rediscovered today, and a major conference is being
planned with lectures and performance of the complete works at Yale University
"Thieles works represent a level of virtuosity
far above anything else written in his time," Disselhorst said. "The
organ works of Bachs sons and pupils, of Mendelssohn, Schumann and others
are far better known, but much less challenging in many technical aspects.
In some respects the virtuosity you find in Thieles works, especially
of the pedal, is not seen in German organ literature until the works of Liszt
some years later."
In 1921 Sowerby became the first American composer
to be awarded the coveted "Prix de Rome," which earned its winner
the opportunity to study in Rome for three years. He was also later awarded
a Pulitzer Prize. Today, Sowerby is best known for his organ works and compositions
for the church. He wrote, however, for all performance media including a violin
concerto, two piano concertos, five symphonies, chamber music, songs and many
At about the time the suite was written the
composer was writing more for other performers than for himself. When teased
by a student for having written something he possibly could not play himself,
Sowerby replied, "This is not true. I dont know if I can, and I
dont intend to find out."
Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of
Music faculty since 1970. He holds both bachelors and masters degrees in music
from the University of Illinois, where he graduated as a Bronze Tablet Scholar.
As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in organ, he also studied at the Staatliche
Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. He earned the Doctor of Musical
Arts degree from the University of Michigan.
As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in
the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for
several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American
Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. He has recorded the Organ Books
of Ned Rorem and "Prophesies" by Daniel Pinkham on the Arkay Label.
The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing
Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
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