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Gunther Schuller

Publisher: AMP

Concerto for Organ and Orchestra (1994)
Associated Music Publishers Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
15 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Programme Note
Gunther Schuller Concerto for Organ and Orchestra (1994)
Composer Note:

My Concerto for Organ and Orchestra is in three movements, contrasting not only in tempo, mood, and character, but in the way the organ functions in the overall ensemble. In the first movement the organ is very much a part of the orchestral texture, often even submerged within it, emerging from it only briefly in some virtuoso “cadenza” passages. Thus the “King of Instruments” is pitted continually against the full forces of the modern symphony orchestra.

By contrast, in the second movement, entitled Meditation, the organ is clearly the primary soloist, with the orchestra accompanying lightly, sporadically, adding subtle colorations that underscore the music’s generally meditative mood. The movement’s continuity is also characterized by numerous silent measures. It is as if the music were occasionally resting and breathing, the silences an integral part of the music.

The last movement, marked scherzando, offers a constant lively interplay between the soloist and various orchestral choirs and groupings. This builds eventually to a considerable climax, in turn culminating in a maestoso Coda, in which the “pleno” organ—its first full use in the work—is set off against the orchestra, this time with both orchestra and organ at full force.

—Gunther Schuller

  • Ensemble
    Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra
    James Diaz (Organ)
    Mario Bernardi
    New World Records:
  • Ensemble
    North German Radio Symphony Orchestra Hannover
    Gunther Schuller
    New World Records:
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