A random enquiry - how many of you compose your own music for the organ? If so, how easy do you find it to do?
It seems to me that on first glance it may seem quite straightforward, but in reality it is less so. This is not least because a deep knowledge of music theory is surely an advantage....I have heard this said and agree entirely, although the most important thing about composing must surely be 'feeling'. Many of our more contemporary works by say the cathedral organists of our or recent time, and also things by the likes of Messiaen, have vast deeper levels of meaning and a wealth of imagery behind them - quite often with a theological basis. When trying to 'paint' text in music, it can become quite abstract or even bizarre in places - making it hard for the lay-person to understand the music. Perhaps this means that one can be a bit too 'clever', which I don't think is that clever at times at all and is almost an over-simplification in some cases. There is nothing I find more cheesy and irritating than an organist being extremely proud of their abilities because they used a Trumpet (toned) stop during a line of a hymn which mentions a trumpet (etc etc). I digress.
I have fecently composed a piece of music for the organ (which is far from a perfect masterpiece, but has been done for personal reasons by way of helping myself on a personal journey) and have found it extremely difficult to achieve convincing results. With so many pre-assumptions of different schools of repertoire, it can be so hard to know where you're going to end up and via where, with so many brilliant influences wirring around in your mind. I think it might help to compose things with a specific instrument and it's character in mind. Perhaps this is why some of the most magnificent performances I have heard on the organ of say, York Minster, have been penned by composers such as Bairstow, or Jackson, or Whiteley....you see the pattern. Knowing an instrument and writing for it (well) is something very special indeed, and brilliantly acknowledges that no two organs (or buildings) are the same.
I have no doubt that a great deal of 'amateur' composition (and of course arranging) takes place and I expect most of these works are lost in the midsts of time. Who knows how many really credible, interesting, moving and exciting pieces have been lost because they came from the pen of someone completely unknown in this context and perhaps wasn't of sound musical structure or understanding, etc.
Comments and thoughts welcomed...