J: Your summer performance tour recently took you to historic German cities playing incredible organs. What is it about performing on notable instruments in a place such as the Predigerkirche in Erfurt that is so moving and memorable?
Dr. Spritzer: Giving performances in Europe is one of my greatest joys! It makes me feel so profoundly connected to the history of the organ. This has been an amazing year of travel, and I pray that it will continue in the years to come.
As I tried to describe earlier , I am deeply moved by how truly ancient our instrument is. This past summer in particular, I played organs that are older than the founding of America. That really, really, really makes you stop and pause, and think about the generations of scholars and artisans and builders and composers that have all come before us, and that are among us right this minute, and who are yet to come in the future. The beauty of Europe and historically-treasured instruments is so special, it moves me to tears to hear those sounds and be in those places. Thinking about Bach’s children being baptized a few feet away at the Herderkirche, or Liszt giving lessons to Reubke at the Nicolaikirche, or Cavaillé-Coll climbing the steps to the organ to keep voicing…It always feels new, and yet it’s not, and I’m certainly not the only one to experience this happiness and sense of connection! But I love every single experience.
It’s a serious privilege and a gift to have those opportunities, and to walk where so many of the musicians we revere lived their lives. For me it adds a level of gravity to my own preparation and scholarship, as well as a deeply emotional appreciation for being able to do what I do. It’s tremendous to experience such incredible history and diversity (and food, and wine, and culture!) by only taking short train rides, as well. That’s something I really love about traveling in Europe and work hard to take advantage of when there.
J: As a recording artist you have introduced us to the music of Rene Louis Becker. Why is his music important in the organ and music world?
Dr. Spritzer: René Becker is a perfect example of a recently-living composer who gave his life to church music and composing and teaching, but through no fault of his own was not remembered right away by subsequent generations. And it’s lovely, lovely music, and he represents both the European and American schools of composition and performance. (Click here for Dr. Spritzer’s recordings of Becker’s music.) I was very fortunate to be able to work with his music and his lovely descendants who were so gracious to me.
I hope to find more composers and pieces that similarly can be restored to a place in our larger body of repertoire. The discovery process can be time-consuming but so satisfying. I’m not a composer, but if I were, I would hope to be remembered similarly, and to feel that my contributions were of lasting value. So since I do not create new music, I can promote the music of our wonderful colleagues who do! I have several upcoming projects in that vein about which I am very, very hopeful.
Excerpted from the Feature Article of the September 2017 Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter. Dr. Jeannine and David Jordan are the creative artists of Pro-Motion Music LLC. Jeannine, a concert organist, with David, a media artist, are the creators and performers of three organ and multimedia concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Bach and Sons.