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Transcription as the performer’s strategic tool: the case of Edwin Lemare and the organ
Luleå University of Technology, Department of Arts, Communication and Education, Music and dance.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2005-5397
2008 (English)In: Performance : Journal of Music Interpretation, Vol. 3, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The British-American organist Edwin Lemare (1865–1934) enjoyed worldwide fame as a virtuoso in the early 20th century. A prolific composer for his instrument, he was especially noted for his transcriptions. Lemare strove to regain lost territory for the organ – by then often dismissed as a dull and inflexible instrument – in general musical life. He adopted a strategy for this purpose, the key elements of which were the instrument, the performance style, and the repertoire. Lemare’s artistic medium was the Anglo-American concert organ with its orchestra-imitating sound architecture, and he took himself active part in its development. His ideal of organ performance – ‘orchestral playing’ – included frequent change of tone colour, flexible dynamics, differentiated articulation, and generous rubato. His recital programming was based on a principle of variety, where original works were only one element, together with improvisations and transcriptions, especially of orchestral works. Transcriptions were essential to his strategy, making up for the scarcity of repertoire presumed to be attractive to the audience, and offering opportunities of demonstrating the capacity of the ‘modern’ organ for fine dynamic and colouristic nuance, similar to the symphony orchestra. Lemare’s strategy for the organ’s emancipation was thus one of adapting and conforming to current tastes, rather than highlighting the unique qualities of the instrument. His success was huge but relatively short-lived; he formed no school, and the ideals of New Objectivity, beginning to gain ground in his later years, represented the opposite of his performance aesthetics.

Abstract [en]

The British-American organist Edwin Lemare (1865-1934) enjoyed worldwide fame as a virtuoso in the early 20th century. A prolific composer for his instrument, he was especially noted for his transcriptions. Lemare strove to regain lost territory for the organ - by then often dismissed as a dull and inflexible instrument - in general musical life. He adopted a strategy for this purpose, the key elements of which were the instrument, the performance style, and the repertoire. Lemare's artistic medium was the Anglo-American concert organ with its orchestra-imitating sound architecture, and he took himself active part in its development. His ideal of organ performance - ‘orchestral playing' - included frequent change of tone colour, flexible dynamics, differentiated articulation, and generous rubato. His recital programming was based on a principle of variety, where original works were only one element, together with improvisations and transcriptions, especially of orchestral works. Transcriptions were essential to his strategy, making up for the scarcity of repertoire presumed to be attractive to the audience, and offering opportunities of demonstrating the capacity of the ‘modern' organ for fine dynamic and colouristic nuance, similar to the symphony orchestra. Lemare's strategy for the organ's emancipation was thus one of adapting and conforming to current tastes, rather than highlighting the unique qualities of the instrument. His success was huge but relatively short-lived; he formed no school, and the ideals of New Objectivity, beginning to gain ground in his later years, represented the opposite of his performance aesthetics. Udgivelsesdato: 2008

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2008. Vol. 3, no 1
National Category
Music
Research subject
Music Performance
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-8184Local ID: 6a723f50-d38b-11dd-964c-000ea68e967bOAI: oai:DiVA.org:ltu-8184DiVA: diva2:981075
Note
Godkänd; 2008; 20081226 (svejul)Available from: 2016-09-29 Created: 2016-09-29 Last updated: 2018-02-12Bibliographically approved

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