Cover image for The Cambridge companion to the organ
The Cambridge companion to the organ
Thistlethwaite, Nicholas.
Publication Information:
Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998.
Physical Description:
xiv, 340 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm.
Origins and development of the organ / Organ construction / Physics of the organ / Temperament and pitch / Organ case ; Organ building today / Fundamentals of organ playing ; Survey of historical performance practices / Organ music and the liturgy / Italian organ music to Frescobaldi / Iberian organ music before 1700 / French classical organ school / English organ music to c1700 / Catholic Germany and Austria 1648-c1800 / North German organ school / Organ music of J.S. Bach / German organ music after 1800 / French and Belgian organ music after 1800 / British organ music after 1800 / North American organ music after 1800 / Modes (toni) and their attributes according to Zarlino

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
ML550 .C35 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This Companion is an essential guide to all aspects of the organ and its music. It examines in turn the instrument, the player and the repertoire. The early chapters tell of the instrument's history and construction, identify the scientific basis of its sounds and the development of its pitch and tuning, examine the history of the organ case, and consider the current trends and conflicts within the world of organ building. Central chapters investigate the practical art of learning and playing the organ, introduce the complex area of performance practice, and outline the relationship between organ playing and the liturgy of the church. The final section explores the vast repertoire of organ music, focusing on a selection of the most important traditions.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This volume includes wonderful and informative things but also suffers from grievous omissions and unhelpful emphases. On the plus side, it "consider[s] the development of organ music within each [national] school in relation to [that] of the instrument itself"; it offers three chapters on the instrument as played (especially on ornamentation) and in the liturgy; it includes fine illustrations of organ cases; and the editors include a useful tabulation of Italian registration. On the minus side, it omits the entire English 18th-century (thus ignoring Handel); it does not mention J.N. David or Ernst Pepping (though Paul Hindemith is briefly discussed) or Leon Boellmann (though Alexandre BoEly is discussed); it relies on a single authority in the matter of the modes (Gasify Zarlino) as against the range of theories shown in the New Grove; and it includes an endless chapter on physics (for what possible audience?). The bibliography disappoints in seldom giving enough information to purchase the work--the archaic and obscurantist "place, date" imprint is preferred to "publisher, date"--and in not including Jeanne Edson's useful reference book Organ-preludes (CH, Apr'71; supplement, CH, Sep'74). But the volume will become a "standard," so libraries with readers at the upper-division undergraduate level through professionals will want to buy it. J. M. Perreault University of Alabama in Huntsville

Table of Contents

1 Origins and development of the organNicholas Thistlethwaite
2 Organ constructionStephen Bicknell
3 The physics of the organJohn Mainstone
4 Temperament and pitchChristopher Kent
5 The organ caseStephen Bicknell
6 Organ-building todayStephen Bicknell
7 The fundamentals of organ playingKimberly Marshall
8 A survey of historical performance practicesKimberly Marshall
9 Organ music and the liturgyEdward Higginbottom
10 Italian organ music to FrescobaldiChristopher Stembridge
11 Iberian organ music before 1800James Dalton
12 The French classical organ schoolEdward Higginbottom
13 English organ music to c. 1700Geoffrey Cox
14 Catholic Germany and Austria before 1800Patrick Russill
15 The north German organ school before 1800Geoffrey Webber
16 The organ musicJ. S. Bach David Yearsley
17 German organ music after 1800Graham Barber
18 French and Belgian organ music after 1800Gerard Brooks
19 British organ music after 1800Andrew McCrea
20 North American organ music after 1800Douglas Reed
Appendix The church modes Christopher Stembridge