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Organ-Programs.

The organ-literature of  to-day is ample enough, varied enough, and of sufficiently good quality to furnish the material for almost any number of good organ-concerts, and at the same time allow due consideration for constantly changing conditions in organs, audiences, etc.

It was not very many years ago when the organist had either to play all Bach, Buxtehude, Hesse, Merkel, and others of the strict German school, or resort to a mixture of the same with good adaptations of orchestral works, or with the showy and shallow literature furnished by the earlier French writers. As a result of these conditions in the past, there is to-day what might be termed the traditional organ-program, which is a medley of good and bad, and in which many of our players—who might now serve the public better—still indulge. Arrangements of overtures, movements from symphonies, vocal fugues, or any compositions other than those written originally for the organ have less and less occasion— or, I might say, excuse—for appearing on the recital program.

We would not bar the transcription absolutely, for a good arrangement of certain classics is better than many an original composition, and, again, occasionally compositions are written for other instruments which lose none of their effect and sometimes even score a distinct gain by being played upon the organ. However great discretion should be shown in making selections of this description. No program should contain, even in extreme cases, more than two transcriptions, and, from a purely artistic standpoint, undoubtedly none would be better.

That type of music represented by Batiste and Wely has become almost obsolete, and it is a good sign that the works of Guilmant, Franck, Widor, Tombelle, and others of this class have so completely crowded it out, for there is much that is beautiful, original, and serious in design in the works of these later writers, while the former, though in a certain way effective, and sometimes original, could scarcely claim the attributes of beauty or seriousness.

What we have termed the traditional program will in time become a tradition only. Let us who have influence help to hasten the day. We have better organs, better organists, and better, or at least more intelligent, audiences than ever before, and with our abundant repertoire of true organ-music from which to draw, should be able to rapidly create a new and brilliant era for organ-music. If we are not making such progress as we should in this direction it is not for lack of organists nor organs, but from faulty program-making.—Henry M. Dunham.

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