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My music

- reflections on past and present

I come from a family of mathematicians and musicians, two talents that are very pronounced among us - and very interrelated.  My father was both a gifted mathematician and an equally gifted singer.  Most of us combine the two assets, some only one.  I grew up in a home full of classical music, in Bergen, Norway, and this is how my artistic journey started:    
         BACH was the gate into the world of music, a start which transformed my ear from childhood to manhood, from popular to reflective listening, from superficial to profound joy.  His was a language that I could enter into without hesitation, without any forehand knowledge or preparation.  His approach was immediate, direct - to the point, always.  My joy in listening to him is the same today as it was then.  His piano music, organ music, orchestral music are examples of musical perfection that can enrich our lives beyond any other satisfaction.  Bach gives us heaven on earth, and I shall try to explain why in a moment. - First comes along another giant.
         WAGNER was a second approach, almost contemporary with the encounter with Bach.  His magical worlds, his characters, his different musical language for each opera filled me with the same kins of wonder and enjoyment that no other composer but Bach has been able to.  Wagners stage is the opera house and not the church, and thus my musical interests had found a two-point focus, life became a kind of pendulum that brought me back and forth between these two poles. 
         While Wagner was seen and listened to, Bach became  an immediate source of  musical lifegiving.  For I started to take piano lessons with the Cathedral organist in Bergen, Trygve Præsttun, himself an consummate interpreter of Bachs organ works (all of them!) and trained in Leipzig.  The Bible of the six years I spent with him was Bach: The Welltempered Klavier.  It initiated me into the world of absolute music, and remains to this day THE musical facit.  Other composers were also studied, but we always came back to Bach.  Even the infatuation with Wagners dream-worlds changed nothing in this respect.
         The two titans are worlds apart. 
         Bach stands for the absolute, the objective, the unchangeble - a kind of musical Plato. 
         Wagner is the supreme master of subjectivity, illusionism, magic and transformation, a potion of enormous power. 
         The one stands for Apollo (Bach), the other for Dionysus (Wagner).  Theatre and chuch become two interrelated spheres, as indeed tragedy is a religious festival and liturgy a dramatic play.  The pure intellect of Bachs music is the opposite of Wagners subjective illusionism, but both are equally important parts of our psychological and musical makeup.  If we choose the one or the other we betray ourselves, we murder one of the two lifegiving nerves in our inner life. 
         Objective and subjective, Apollon and Dionysos, church and theater, absolute music and programmatic music, timelessness and change, tradition and novelty, Bach and Wagner - these are the two components of a musicians life, or so it seems to me. 
         The organ is the best instrument to combine the two spheres of life, and that is why I changed from piano to pipe organ as soon as my basic training was finished.  With organ masters like Kjell Flem (Bergen), Colin Walsh (Oxford) and Kjell Johnsen (Nikolay Apollyon, Oslo) I found a way of expressing what my two titans had communicated: the platonic and absolute in playing organ literature (Bach above all) - the subjective and illusionary in the art of improvisation (a feast of imagination).   The two have never become rivals in my life, and the samples published in this homepage should bear witness to this truth.
         On the exterior level my life as a church-musician has been combined with academic work, Wagner remaining a passion on the sideline as well as a hobby.  And the organ has  been my companion in Bergen, Oxford, Oslo, Rome and many other places.  Improvisation was there from the beginning, for the organ is the improvisers instrument more than anything else.  Of course, the literature written for the organ has also great value (especially that by Bach), but cannot, alas, be compared with the literature for the piano, which is far more significant and vastly more popular.  But the organ lends itself to improvisation in a more radical way than the piano, and that is why I changed instrument in my youth.  This choice I have never regretted. 
          I have now more time to compose and improvise than befor since my academic life is finished.  Only time will show if my musical existence takes a new turn or continues along old patterns. 
         Written January 2007.

- a brief guide

MY INTENTION is to publish preliminary recordings of my own music on this homepage (hopefully that of others as well).  I underline preliminary since these are all done on the spur of the moment, without preparation, all depending on the context in which they arose, normally while preparing for a concert, or after a liturgy.
         My list of works goes up to opus 30 (more are planned or being prepared) and the recordings will be presented in the course of 2007.
         These modest works are the result of an active life as church organist over the last 40 years (in Norway, England and Italy).  They mostly include minor exercises in the art of composition and came into being as musical activities increased, above all as a result of the great liturgical demand in Oslo.  But some pieces are written specifically for concerts, and these are the longer ones: op. 1, 2, 4, 5, 13, 15, 27, 29.  Here I have tried to give the result of sustained efforts of composition - the rest are occasional pieces, lumped together under various titles.  My own favourites are 2, 5, 13 and 15 (27 being popular with the audiences, but the occation is a sad one: my father’s death).  Op. 5 has been much loved by different audiences, but is not of the same calibre as op. 1 and 2.  - My own choice is definitely the five phantasies in op. 15.
         Opus 8 - the symphonies - are not to be considered as symphonic music proper, but more like Mendelssohns sonatas or the Widor symphonies: different pieces linked together without having much mutual affinity. 
         The piano music is on the whole to be considered as composition exercises.  Recordings may follow.  They are partly quite demanding for the performer.
         The songs are pious and popular, in the European style, and claims no originality whatsoever.  They are written as little interludes for concerts with heavy organ music, or as a liturgical divertimanto.  They should preferably be sung by a mezzosoprano.
         The liturgical pieces are the 75 responsorial psalms of op. 9 (and a cluster of Alleluja-verses).   They are written in popular style and functions well with congregations.  Some of the antiphons are printed in the Norwegian Catholic Hymn Book “Lov Herren”.  
THE MUSICAL STYLES employed are the the classical and the late romantic. 
         The classical style is most clearly present in op. 6, 7, 20 and 27. 
         The late romantic style dominates in all the others (high romantic style is pronounced in some of them).
         Sometimes I combine both styles in the same composition (as with op. 13).
         Modern trends are visible in op. 5 and 25.
         All in all I have presented a musical palette that can claim no originality whatsoever, but great versatility, based on much experience as a practical musician.  The organ music is the main bulk of my output, but works for the piano is likely to increase over the years to come. 
         Being unable to create a musical language of my own, I have tried to combine different existing styles, in a sort of post-modernistic enterprise. 

THE TECHNICAL EQUIPMENT EMPOLYED is the simplest one: various Sony recording machines, big and small.  The microphones are of a varied kind, but none of them large and expensive.  The tapes transferred to CD’s are all metallic (Sony or Maxell).

- preliminary remarks

On this homepage there will be published a substantial number of organ improvisations in addition to recordings of my own compositions.  A word or two about these may be justifiable.
         As a church organist and concertist for over 40 years I have had ample occation to practise this ancient and venerable art.  My teachers have been numerous, but in this respect one heavily falls back on oneself.  In a way you cannot learn to improvise - you have to teach yourself, while at the same time listening to others. The organ lends itself naturally to improvisation, the illusionists art.  Here is a plethora of sounds, symphonic possibilities, a unique challenge to the performers imagination.  The choice of tonal language and colour is free: classical, romantic and moderne options are all available.  Improvisation is today a post-modern art, you can easily combine styles and languages in the same piece.
         The transition from sound to music goes via form.  There is no way this can be denied.  The question of form is at the core of all art, music not least.  Form is therefore at the forefront of the improvisers attention, a demand he or she can never ignore, not for a moment.  In addition to classical forms there is the need for free forms when it comes to certain kinds of  musical material, say the Gregorian repertoire.  And the traditional forms used here are paraphrases, miniatyres (interludes) and similar figures; the toccata is also a free form.
         As it happened I recorded many of the working sessions, in order to listen critically to the result afterwords.  In this way there came into existence a vast archive, transferred from tapes to CD’s, and it is bits and pieces from this that are now being published for the first time.  The selection has been haphazard.  I have mostly chosen material that can illustrate the subject matter, as listed below.
         The organs used are all in Norway.  They reflect a very varied organ flora, mostly of  German provenance, only one is French (St. Dominic’s Oslo), none is English or Dutch.   Some of them are new and in excellent condition, but many are old and in need of urgent repairs.  The recording machines used are of different kinds, mostly Sony products, the tapes are preferably metal (Maxell).
         The classification of this material is as follows:

1)  GREGORIAN PARAPHRASES.  Here I include improvisations for Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, om Marian antiphones, Eucharistic antiphones, sequences, masses, hymns, varia.
         Paraphrases is an appropriate form for improvising on the Gregorian material, variations is also useful.  Triptychs and symphonic forms are sometimes used.  Often the form is of the “free” kind (style libre - freie Improvisation).  

2)  CLASSICAL FORMS.  These are: concerts (in classical style), toccatas, symphonies, dances, ballads, miniatures, scherzi, phantasies/legends, “organism” (freee virtuoso pieces), and others.   Again I have often combined different styles in the same piece (classical, romantic, modern).

A final word.
         The academic interest in reproduction (interpretation of litterature) almost succeeded in killing the art of improvisation.  The obsession with authenticity resulted in a deplorable neglect of   creative use of the organ.  How many organists today gives an improvisation at the end of a recital?  How many of this limited number of organists use different styles at the same time? 
         My intention in publishing these examples is to demonstrate that this old and venerable art - the organist’s art above any other - is far from dead.
Artistic imagination is like any other bit of us: it must be nourished and fed regularly, preferably every day.

Aage Olav Johannes Kristoffer Leonard Lund Hauken.

Born in Bergen 02.09.1947

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