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Organ culture in post-war Poland, 1945-2012

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Throughout the history of Western art music, political and religious institutions have exerted powerful influence through their patronage and censorship. This is especially relevant to the organ, an elaborate and expensive instrument which has always depended on institutional support. The

Throughout the history of Western art music, political and religious institutions have exerted powerful influence through their patronage and censorship. This is especially relevant to the organ, an elaborate and expensive instrument which has always depended on institutional support. The fascinating story of Polish organ culture, which has existed since the Middle Ages, reflects the dramatic changes in Polish politics throughout the centuries. An understanding of this country's history helps to construct a comprehensive view of how politics influenced the developments in organ building and organ playing. This paper describes the dynamics of the Church, government and art institutions in Poland during the years 1945-2012. A brief summary of the history of Polish organ culture sets the stage for the changes occurring after WWII. The constant struggle between the Church and the communist regime affected music making and organ culture in Poland from 1945-1989. The political détente that occurred after 1989 led to a flowering of new instruments, restorations and performance opportunities for organists. By exploring the relationship between Polish organ culture and prevailing agendas in the 20th century, the author demonstrates how a centuries-old tradition adapted to survive political and economic hardships.

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2012

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Cecilia's mirror: the role of the pipe organ in the Catholic Church of the United States in the aftermath of Vatican II

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The organ in the Catholic Church of the United States is a mirror of its time, reflecting the various challenges facing Catholic liturgy today. In some cases, it reflects the rich patrimony of European immigrants, anxious to replicate the liturgical

The organ in the Catholic Church of the United States is a mirror of its time, reflecting the various challenges facing Catholic liturgy today. In some cases, it reflects the rich patrimony of European immigrants, anxious to replicate the liturgical conditions they left behind. In others, it reflects the efforts of liturgical reformers to "update" the liturgy, creating more opportunities for what they understand to be active participation of the faithful. The absence of the organ in some American Catholic churches, particularly, in the time following the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, raises questions on the direction of sacred music in these churches as well as the survival and viability of the organ as the principal musical instrument of the Catholic liturgy. In all, the organ in American Catholic churches serves as a gauge of the current liturgical climate, and, in a broader sense, the direction and viability of the Catholic Church in America. In this paper, I argue that the survival of the organ in American Catholic churches depends largely on the number of Catholics who continue to remain active in the Church, as well as their views on liturgy, and their musical formation. While recent figures indicate a gradual decline in membership in the Catholic Church among younger generations, interest in organ and traditional Catholic sacred music by some Catholics may ensure the organ's continued presence. The extent to which some groups implement liturgical directives of Pope Benedict XVI, and the activities of groups that support traditional Roman Catholic liturgy, play a role in the organ's continued survival. Also crucial are those who support the organ for its own artistic and musical merit, including contemporary composers of liturgical organ music, organ students in Catholic higher education programs, and organ builders. As opposed to total extinction, the use of the organ in American Catholic churches may take on a new shape, surrounded by a church that struggles to reconcile modern culture with the transcendent.

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2010