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University of Iowa News Release

Sept. 22, 2005

Disselhorst Plays German Organ Works For Oct. 2 Faculty Recital

Organist Delbert Disselhorst will perform a University of Iowa faculty recital featuring German organ repertoire from the 18th and 19th centuries at 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2, in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus.

The program reflects Disselhort's research into two virtually unknown 19th-century composers -- Johann Friedrich Ludwig Thiele and Otto Barblan. In addition to pieces by Thiele and Barblan, Disselhorst will play works by J.S. Bach, whose music forms an essential part of the organ repertoire; and Mendelssohn and Brahms, whose organ music is significant but not as familiar to the public as their orchestral works.

The complete program will be:

--The Prelude and Fugue in G minor by Brahms.

--Two chorales by Johann Sebastian Bach.

--Passacaglia, op.6, by Barblan.

--The Sonata III for organ, op.65 by Mendelssohn.

--Trio Sonata, S.527, by Bach.

--Theme with Variations in A-flat by Thiele.

Disselhorst said that he was attracted to Thiele and Barblan because their music is off the beaten path. "I have had a particular interest in the music of Thiele for the very reason that it is an extremely unusual part of the 19th-century German repertoire," he said.

A contemporary of Mendelssohn, Thiele was organist at Berlin's Parochial-Kirche (Parochial church) from 1839 until his death in 1848. A remarkable performer as well as a talented composer, Thiele wrote only nine works for organ, all of them highly virtuosic pieces that reflect a technical ability in performance not to be found in any other organ literature of the period, especially the demands on the pedal. They were published in 1870, but have been out of print for at least a century.

"Thiele seems to have no real precedents before in the Berlin school or immediately after among his contemporaries," Disselhorst said. "Whether or not he and Mendelssohn were acquainted is not known.

"While researching Thiele and other 19th-century composers in Berlin several years ago, I discovered the Barblan Passacaglia. Barblan is also virtually unknown among recitalists, but was surely a distinguished figure in his day and was highly respected by Brahms."

Barblan was a distinguished Swiss composer, organist, teacher and conductor. He heard a performance of the Bach Passacaglia and was so moved with both performance and work that he selected the countersubject of the fugue of that work for his own Passacaglia. He dedicated the work to Brahms, who said he was honored by the dedication.

The Prelude and Fugue in G minor was composed at a time when Brahms was studying Bach's music. The composer sent a copy to Clara Schumann, Brahms's closest musical confidante and the widow of Robert Schumann, in February 1857.

Mendelssohn's collection of Six Sonatas resulted from a commission from the English music publisher Coventry and Hollier. The third sonata, with only two movements, opens with a movement Mendelssohn originally wrote for his sister Fanny's wedding.

Bach's trio sonatas were presumably written as finishing studies in organ for his talented eldest son Wilhelm Friedemann. They are the first examples of the Italian trio sonata composed for a single instrument. While the listener can enjoy the skillful interweaving of the three independent lines, the performer is confronted with some of the most difficult writing in the organ repertoire.

Disselhorst has been a member of the UI School of Music faculty since 1970. He holds both bachelors and masters degrees in music from the University of Illinois, where he graduated as a Bronze Tablet Scholar. As a recipient of a Fulbright grant in organ, he also studied at the Staatliche Hochschule fuer Musik in Frankfurt, Germany. He earned the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the University of Michigan.

As a concert artist, Disselhorst has performed in the United States, Canada and Europe. He has appeared as a recitalist for several regional conventions and for the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists in Houston, Texas, in 1989. He has recorded the Organ Books of Ned Rorem and "Prophesies" by Daniel Pinkham on the Arkay Label.

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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