:The Elusive English Organ
Daniel Moult presents this documentary, in which he plays English organ music on the few historic instruments that still exist. In doing so he sees English history from a unique and compelling angle - the changes that he finds in music and instruments are a perfect echo of the huge forces that altered the country between 1550 and 1830.
The central idea of the film is that English keyboard music is rich and fascinating, including beautiful works by Byrd, Purcell, Handel and others, but most of the instruments these composers wrote for have been destroyed. This film showcases the few organs from the period that have survived in more or less original state.
Two reconstructed Tudor organs show how England enjoyed a strong musical style on a par with other European countries; two organs built in France by English builders from the Dallam family, Ploujean and Lanvellec, show how the native tradition developed until the Civil War; three Restoration organs, Adlington Hall, Great Packington and St Botolph, Aldgate, show how the reaction to the Civil War ushered in European styles; an early Victorian organ, St James, Bermondsey, shows how industrialism and radicalism changed England and its music.
In the film, Daniel demonstrates that these survivals are very special, because most of England's historic organs have been destroyed. The first wave fell victim to the Reformation, the second wave of destruction occurred in the Civil War. Whatever survived finally fell victim to the Victorian gospel of industry. It is almost impossible to find a historical organ that was not completely rebuilt in the nineteenth century.
This is the first film to trace the history of the early English organ. The result is wonderfully entertaining and informative, and offers a rich context for beautiful pieces of keyboard music.
Film running Time | ~50 mins