Musical contribution - October 2017

Little Fantasy ‘A Mighty Fortress is our God’ - Jan Zwart.

Each year, we devote attention to an organ player born or deceased many years ago. In May of this year, we highlighted the work of Karg-Elert. For October, we are drawing attention to the work of Jan Zwart. The reason we are celebrating his work in October is because this month marks the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. That is also the reason for the title ‘Ein feste Burg’ (A Mighty Fortress).

Jan Zwart has had a significant influence on Dutch organ culture, not only with his adaptations of psalms and songs, but first and foremost his historic research. I recently had the pleasure of organising a ‘Jan Zwart Commemoration’. While preparing for the event, I read a great deal about his life and work and was particularly impressed by his work ethic and diligence: as an historian, as a concert organist and as a composer. The beautiful pieces he wrote continue to be heard on Sundays during worship services and we often hear his lovely adaptations at organ concerts.

So, the focus this month is on the Small Fantasy on a Luther hymn. In the Netherlands, we are mostly familiar with the Fantasy. If this piece isn’t part of your collection yet, I highly recommend adding it. The Small Fantasy is far less known and can easily be played on a two keyboard organ and as a prelude to harmonies.

For Manual 1, Zwart dictates an ff and, on the second manual, mf. In bar 17, an mf is dictated for the great division. If you do not set everything to ‘open’ but, for example, the 8 and 4 registers + trumpet (linked to the second keyboard), you only need to close the trumpet in bar 17. This can be added again in bar 27. If you want to add more voices, this can be done in bar 42 and/or during the chorale.

With musical regards,

André van Vliet

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