Other Organ Music Sites:

Live recordings of concerts in Helsinki
Frederik Magle on a new organ in Denmark
and More Frederik Magle

Let me know if you have a site with free organ recordings on it! I'll add it to the list.

Virgil Fox Video -- Bach Fugue in D Major

Heavy Organ
  • Here's a cool video. (About a 5-minute playtime. Permission to use direct-link and scan pending). It's Virgil Fox in Tokyo in 1977 playing a piece I thought I didn't like. He knew how to bring music to life.

  • Here is Felix Hell doing some commentary on the same piece. This one has some better closeups of keyboard and pedal work. Clever guy, Bach, to have come up with this stuff way back in the 1700's. This is the first time I've heard Felix speak... its hard to tell he's German.

  • Some further study on Bach Preludes and Fugues.

    I found the Virgil Fox video and picture in the Virgil Fox Legacy website, under chronology.
  • Party Horns

  • (Video)Here's a very talented 17-year-old in the Netherlands doing a triumphant improvisation on the hymn "Holy Holy Holy", postlude style, showcasing the horizontal solo trumpet pipes. This organ is a beast... built the way they were built in the 1700's or so. Just keys mechanically linked to the valves and knobs mechanically linked to the stop sliders... and you're on your own from there. Hence the helpers. I think this organ would be nearly impossible to manage alone.
  • Here's another nice trumpet tune, this one by Handel, played by Timothy Grenz on a Holtkamp organ. This piece has better sound quality, but no picture (mp3 file). Direct-link used with permission from a great site, Organs and Organists Online. Check it out. (This post could use a nice picture of horizontal organ trumpets, if anyone knows of one).
  • Chopin on the Pedals in Long Johns

  • Woah! This is the most non-human pedal technique I've ever seen. This is a famous Chopin piano piece adapted for organ. This guy appears a bit out there in a Michael Jacksonian, kids-you-stay-away-from-him kind of way, but this is worth a view. Mind-boggling.

  • Here's someone playing it on the piano as originally written, and quite well. This is really no less amazing.

    You may be wondering, why didn't Cameron just play it on the manual keyboards on the organ? Musically, there is probably no reason. Just looks cooler on the pedals!
  • The Hammond Organ

    The Hammond organ was intended to be an affordable alternative to the pipe organ, but it ended up becoming far better known as an instrument for jazz and rock and roll music. I have an H100 at home (that I got for free from a funeral home!!) to practice my hymns for church. Not the Hammond's forte, but it does it better than you might expect. The photo shows Laurens Hammond seated at his new invention in 1935, the first electric organ. I stole it from the Hammond page of Theatreorgans.com. I never heard back when I asked permission, but I'm pretty sure it is in the public domain. Someone slap me if it is not.

  • (Video)Here's a bit of funk and pretty much the coolest thing I've ever heard.
  • (Video)Here's a bit of jazz and pretty much the coolest thing I've ever seen.
  • (Video)Here's a very well done 10-minute documentary about the Hammond organ.
  • Yep, the Organ can do Orchestra Too

  • January 2, 2008 update... a new youtube video just out: The Nutcracker Suite at Stanford University's Memorial Church played by Frederick Hohman.
  • Here's a video of Raúl Prieto Ramírez, Spanish organist, doing a brilliant performance of the Saint-Saëns Danse Macabre (transcribed for organ by Edwin Lemare, on an organ not even particularly well suited to it (those Spanish trumpets sure are funny sounding. More like a Krumhorn-en-Chamade to me!). He makes it suitable. An amazing performance; very dynamic and energetic.

    A much, much higher quality version of this video can be downloaded for free from Organs and Organists Online in the video downloads section. You have to start an account, but its free and instant to do so.
  • Choir and Organ

    Half the reason for the organ's existence is to accompany a choir, so I figured it was high time to feature that! I would have done so much sooner, but it took a while to find a good one. Here is a good one! St Paul's Cathedral, London, one of the finest organs, choirs, and acoustics anywhere in the world.

  • Give it a listen! This is great! Ralph Vaughan Williams rules (he also wrote the music for the hymn "All Creatures of our God and King")
  • Small Wonder

    Organbuilder Sebastian Glück makes a nice line of very small pipe organs for limited space and budgets. (He builds very large ones as well).
  • This is a neat recording of one them, with 2 free mp3's to listen to. This pipe organ is not that much bigger than a good-sized piano.
  • Dem Bones

  • Dem Bones(MP3) (direct link used with permission) is something that is a little different than the music you usually associate with pipe organs. Its a new piece by Jonathon Orwig of www.evensongmusic.net. The piece has not been released for sale there yet, but I'm told it will be soon. Its a pretty cool site, where composers can put up their sheet music for sale, and a simulated virtual organ will play it as an mp3 so the buyer can listen to the pieces before deciding which to buy. I think this could soon bring about a small revolution in music composition, allowing the unknown composer to put him- or her-self on the map.
  • Beautiful New Music

    This is my favorite less-than-ten-years-old composition (The first movement particularly).

    This is the organ symphony, in four movements, of Dan Gawthrop.

    The term "organ symphony" could confuse some... there's no symphony orchestra here. Symphonic just describes the type of music, as opposed to polyphonic, etc.

  • (MP3)Allegro (The theme reminds me a little bit of a "Journey" song!! This is one of my favorite performances on this page)
  • (MP3)Adagio (Smooth and Smarmy)
  • (MP3)Giocoso (Short, sweet, and fun... kind of Nutcrackeresque)
  • (MP3)Finale (Wow... fantastic flashy ending)

    Direct-links used with permission
  • The Mighty Wurlitzer

  • (MP3)Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin
  • (MP3)Variations on "America" by Charles Ives
  • (Video)Ives again, on a really nasty electronic organ, but with really nice camera work

    Theater Organ ConsoleHere's Virgil Fox again playing the Wurlitzer organ that was originally in the Paramount Theater for the accompaniment of silent films. Theater organs are pipe organs that work the same way as church organs but with different voicing and higher wind pressures, and also other sound effects like drums, cymbals, car horns, etc. They also often had a real piano playable remotely from the organ console using a pneumatic action similar to a player piano. You can hear the piano "stop" being used in both of these recordings. The bird call was done by a small organ pipe partly under water, and the car horn is just a real car horn or something like one activated by a button on the console. Wurlitzer was to theater organs as Mack is to trucks and Scotch is to tape, but there were other makes. In fact, many of the famous pipe organ builders that are better known for church and university organs made a few theater organs back in the silent movie days. (Permission pending to use the direct-links to the Virgil Fox Legacy website).
  • Finally a Silent Film (short) on Youtube!

  • Finally a silent film short on YouTube accompanied by theater pipe organ! Before "talkies", every movie theater had a pipe organ if they could afford one, or a piano if they couldn't, and an organist/pianist to do the sound effects and soundtrack, live. Very funny and very well done here, on an orphaned theater organ that was installed in a pizza restaurant. Keep in mind that EVERY sound, except audience laughter and clapping, is being made by the organ, acoustically, including the percussion sounds and all. The xylophone sound is an actual xylophone with pneumatic mallets being controlled from the keyboards, the car horn is an actual car horn activated by a button on the console, and the bird whistle sound is made by a small organ pipe submerged in water. There are drums and cymbals featured in a few places, also operated by the organist from the console.
  • And here's a fun piano/ organ ragtime duet, on a similar theater pipe organ.
  • Fox Plays Dupre

  • (MP3)Marcel Dupré: Prelude and Fugue in G Minor recorded by Virgil Fox in 1958 at Riverside Church in New York City. The first half is a haunting, slow melody mostly played on the string sounds, accompanied by a frantic progression on the flutes. The second half (the fugue) is best described as the musical equivalent of a fireworks grand finale that just keeps coming at you. A very difficult piece very well played here.

    At left is a famous photo of Marcel Dupre at the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia in 1932. Dupre was one of Virgil Fox's teachers. The MP3 and the photo are from the Virgil Fox Legacy website. Permission for using direct-links pending.
  • Luscious!!!

  • (MP3)George Jacob: Organ Symphony, Movement 1

  • This is a gorgeous piece I never heard until today. I've been waiting for a good quiet piece to come along to feature here, some of you may have noticed loud pieces are more represented on my page here. This is mainly because its hard to find a soft organ recording that sounds good. You really have to be there. But this one sounds great, as long as you have headphones or an awesome computer sound system. Its mostly quiet to mezzo-forte until the big triumphant ending. Thanks to Evensongmusic.net for sharing it.

    Organs Pre-Electricity

    Every once in a while someone asks how organs made their wind to sound the pipes before electric blowers were invented. This video shows how, on a very old pipe organ playing very old music in Spain. American organs had a similar system but with one double-acting lever feeding a weighted reservoir, instead of two weighted bellows that each act as reservoirs:
  • (Watch)
  • Alain Litanies

  • This is a video that will go down in history. This is the sister of one of the greatest 20th century composers who died in World War II. That she is still alive and well to share his music with us is incredible. Not very many people can interpret this difficult piece well, let alone at 80 years old. This piece sounds awful when not played well, and awesome otherwise. Goosebump material, this.

    One of the cool things about this piece is the groovy asymmetrical meter. This is the only performance of this piece where I've ever heard this pulled off well.

    If you don't know French, fast forward to 1:29, that's where the interview ends and the music starts.

  • Here is another modern piece I like, by John Weaver, also played by John Weaver, on a Wicks pipe organ. I like I found it on the Wicks Organ Company website, and direct linked to the mp3 with the kind permission of Mark Wick.
  • Olivier Latry at Notre Dame, Paris

  • You may have noticed I've been gradually moving from milk to soft food, to harder food (more or less). It comes to a climax here. Chew thoroughly before swallowing. Not easy listening, but this is an amazing improvisation. Creative genius. I've been playing from 8:38 to the end over and over again, WOW.
  • You Deserve a Break

  • That got a little rough toward the end there. We'll end with something easy and happy. Everybody loves the playful yet soothing Wachet Auf by JS Bach.

    A much higher quality version of this video can be downloaded for free from Organs and Organists Online in the video downloads section. You have to start an account, but its free and instant to do so.