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Report From Hamburg!

Posted: Saturday 9th April

Report From Hamburg!

Below is a report from our good friend, Jack Raves of the Netherlands Organ Federation who wished to share his experience of Jean Martyn's concert in Hamburg a few weeks ago.  It's good to hear that organ music is still so popular in this corner of the world...

Many of you may know that there is a Welte 'Uniflex' Organ in the Hamburg Radio Studio of the N.D.R. (Nord Deutsche Rundfunk). (Uniflex, by the way stands for UNIT-organ, like most well known theatre pipeorgans.)

Mr. Dieter Bartels, chairman of the Welte Society invited  "'The Queen of the Keyboards" Jean Martyn during a visit to a NOF-concert  at the 4/29 Strunk organ in Steenwijk, Holland, a few years ago, which was where Jean was booked to come and play the Hamburg Organ in 2010.

However a volcano and dark ash clouds did not allow her to fly over at that particular time … at the very last moment Leon Kuijpers, a very wellknown Dutch organist was invited instead. He played that concert for her and did a splendid  job! Being ash-cloud-grounded Jean of course was very sorry for not having been able to come herself and immediately agreed to come in the next concertseason (2011).

Mr. Bartels found out that so many people wanted to come to see & hear Jean, that he had to find a way of organizing two concerts for her, it was not fair to disappoint so many friends and members! In the end the studio managers --after many phonecalls and meetings-- allowed two concerts on ONE day, which took place on March 26th 2011... both concerts had a full house and were tremendous successes.

This Welte organ, made famous by Gerhard Gregor, is an unusual instrument (you may want to have a look at it on their site It not only has an unusual bench to sit on, but also a rather strange layout of stops and switches! Not an easy instrument  to play for most organists, the artistes will indeed need some time to 'have a go' to prepare their performances.

Well: Jean coped with it like sugar in tea, or fish in water, the well prepared instrument almost sang like a Wurlitzer organ in her capable hands and under her swinging silvershoed feet!  At some point there just was this one little xylophone stop that did not want to come off, Jean however played around that professionally by using a different manual where that stop was not on..

In many of 'his' concerts Mr. Bartels likes to add a bonus, a "BonBon", something extra and this time he had invited the Children's Choir of the Hamburg State Opera "The Alster Domspatzen", and indeed a sweet and lovely musical 'bon bon' that was!

The rehearsal of Michael Jackson's 'We Are The Children Of The World" however seemed a nightmare for Jean because the music score of that had not been written out properly, but there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with Jean's playing and accompanying the 45 children during both concerts: it was absolutely and 'goosepimplingly' fantastic. Jean had two standing ovations at both concerts, which is exceptional in Hamburg, I know from experience.

It was noticeable that Jean was completely "open and free to explode" when the choir had so succesfully finished, there was no more room for any stressy feelings after that.... and I am very sure that Jean will be invited to come back and play that beautiful and special insrument again in the not too distant future!

Jack Raves

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