Research Interests

Project: Organ in Early Modern Germany

The Intersection of Politics and Organ Music in Mid-Century Germany

Mid-century Germany witnessed an extreme collision of cultural suppression, political upheaval, and changing church ideology. The organ and organ culture was at the intersection of these forces, and this era is one in which outside influences greatly shaped the organ and church music scene on the international stage.

My research considers the political interaction with cultural development, and how the organ and organ literature was affected. The German culture enthusiastically identified with the organ history and the heritage of Bach as a quintessential German musician. The pride in this heritage led to the use of the instrument as a core element of the Freiburg Organ Festival and NSDAP Rallies. Other instigating elements include the Entartete Kunst / Musik (Degenerate Art / Music) exhibitions and guidelines, with an emphasis on classical order and forms.

Organ repertoire from this period shows these disparate influences, in both conforming and reactionary ways. Repertoire from Adolf Eckardt, Johann Nepomuk David, Paul Kickstat, and Hugo Distler will be presented through this cultural lens. Also noted are the experiences of émigrés, particularly Arnold Schoenberg and Paul Hindemith, and their influence on the American scene with their university teaching posts. Musical examples offer repertoire of interest as well as introductions to works that would be useful additions to an organist’s library.

Music is never produced in a vacuum; this presentation is to enhance appreciation of the context in which compositions are produced and to acknowledge the complex interactions of politics, culture, and art in the past century.

Presentation: Organ in Germany 1920-1945