The Lady Organist

an online magazine for organists

Pedals-only repertoire 2

I am entirely indebted, once again, to Michael Wong for all the suggestions on this page.   He and I have been discussing pianists who are turning themselves into organists (like myself) and who are discouraged when the feet simply do not measure up to the hands.  I’ve already listed his suggestions for developing pedal technique on my first page of pedals-only repertoire.  Here’s his follow-up:

“On the subject of pedal variations, it seems to be a very popular type of pedals-only pieces.  Besides those I have mentioned before, Hans Klotz wrote a set of pedal variations called Fünfzehn Übungsstücke für das Orgelpedal that is similar to the Flor Peeters set, American composer Mark Thewes wrote Pedal Variations on Jesus, Keep me near the cross; English composer Noel Rawsthorne wrote the pedal workout Variations on BACH for Pedals which can be found in the Recitalist’s Repertoire Book 3, while Canadian composer Jean le Buis wrote Variations sur la belle Françoise.

Fellow Canadian composer Denis Bedard wrote Trois Esquisses for organ pedals alone: the pedal Toccata that Carol Williams often performs in her recital is from this set of pieces. Naji Hakim’s Quatre Études-Caprices (für Pedal Solo) are frequently performed by Iveta Apkalna and Natascha Reich.  Eugenio Maria Fagiani wrote an exceedingly boring set of 13 Etudes pour pedalier seul  (but they are good technical exercises) – Josef Friedrich Doppelbaur’s 10 Etuden fur Orgelpedal solo sound much better musically.

There are also large collections of pedals alone pieces by different composers.  Volume 48 of The California Organist is the aptly titled Pedal Book and featured works by C Griffith Bratt, Rayner Brownn, Norberto Guinaldo, Clarence Mader,  Orpha Ochse, and Michael E Young.  The Europeans are not to be outdone, and a collection of 13 pieces (mostly insanely difficult pedal solos) written by O G Blarr, H Bornefeld, T Brandmuller, P Cogen, X Darasse, J Guillou, B Hambraeus, M Haselbock, P Hurford, J Reveyron, L Rogg, T C Schlee, G Zacher called PEDALS ONLY is published by Universal Orgel Edition.  Johann Matthias Michel wrote 16 pieces for pedals alone in his Pedal Solobuch including the delightful Walzer zu 4 Fuessen (Strauss Sohn).

For some more accessible pedal solos, Mexican Composer Ramon Noble wrote the Toccata a Pedal, a 3 movement work that is simply delightful and can be found in Mexican Composers for the Organ, Vol. 4 published by Vivace.

American composer Gordon Young of the Prelude in Classical Style fame also wrote a couple of fairly accessible pedal solos titled Playing Footsie and Holiday for Pedals.  While on the opposite end, Vincent Persichetti wrote the extremely inaccessible Do not go Gentle and Sonatine for Pedals.  Roy Harris wrote the fairly difficult Etudes for Pedals. The most popular solo pedal work written by an American composer though, is probably William Albright’s Jig for the Feet from his 12 Etudes for Small Organ.

There is also music written for organ pedals and percussion.  Daniel Pinkham wrote a piece simply called PEDALS for organ pedals and 4 pedal timpani, Charles Hoag wrote The Kraken for Pedals alone and large Tam Tam.

Finally, there are organ pedal duets such as Charles Valentin Alkan’s Bombardo Carillon, Australian organist/composer Robert Ampt’s Waltzing Matilda for 4 feet, and the fore-mentioned Walzer Zu 4 Fuessen (Strauss Sohn) by Johann Matthias Michel.

Wow, this is quite a lot of music and I still haven’t covered some of the more obscure (and mostly less worthy!) titles, I guess I will leave that for another time…”

Thanks Michael!