Joseph Jongen was Director of the Brussels Conservatoire from 1925 to 1939. He was first and foremost a composer and yet his career as an organist and composer of organ music was remarkable. His Sonata Eroïca has become one of the enduring works of the repertory and the Symphonie Concertante commissioned by Rodman Wanamaker for the organ of the Philadelphia store has been considered the finest of all twentieth-century organ concertos. This is the first book ever to appear about Joseph Jongen in any language. It is based on twenty years of research by its author John Scott Whiteley.
Part I traces Jongen's life and achievements as an organist from his earliest training in Franck's birthplace Liège to his exile in England and his final years in Brussels during which time he headed the team that designed the organ for Belgian Radio. Part II is a guide to the organ music from the points of view of both performer and musicologist. Appendices provide a catalogue of works a numbering system for his works without opus numbers specifications of the organs he played and lists of variant readings in his manuscripts. This book is indispensable for serious students of the organ the Romantic organ repertoire and European music of the early twentieth century.
John Scott Whiteley
Organist Emeritus of York Minster, having worked at that great cathedral from 1975 until 2010 when he retired from the Minster in order to pursue his freelance career. During the past ten years he has become well-known for his performances on BBC2 and BBC4 television of the complete organ music of Johann Sebastian Bach. 21st-Century Bach was a joint commission by BBC2 and BBC4, and began in 2001. The series continues and is planned to run for several more years, after which time some eighty programmes will have covered Bach’s entire output for organ. The series was described by the British daily national newspaper, The Daily Telegraph, as “a triumph both visually and musically.”
The commission was the result of his performance, in York Minster in the year 2000, of 14 recitals that covered Bach’s entire organ ouput. For this series, he compiled and wrote a booklet entitled, Notes on Bach’s Organ Works. (The second edition is available by using the contact page on johnscottwhiteley.com) This was essentially a summary of three decades of research by many Bach scholars.
Having studied at the Royal College of Music, and with Fernando Germani in Siena and Flor Peeters in Malines, John Scott Whiteley won first prize in the 1976 National Organ Competition of Great Britain. He then performed at the Royal Festival Hall, for the UK Annual Conference of the Incorporated Association of Organists, and at festivals throughout Europe. The most recent of these have included the 2005 International Organ Festival in St. Albans, the 2006 Musicometa Festival in Rome, and 2008 Bach Festivals in Skiernewice, Poland, and Camaiore, Italy. From 1985 John toured the USA annually, and for twenty years he was represented by the well-known agency, Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. His exclusive representative is now PVA Management.
John now has twenty-four solo CD recordings to his credit, and a further twenty-two as accompanist. These have been recorded by EMI, Guild, Regent, Priory, Amphion, Boreas and York Ambisonics and several have won awards, notably a Critic’s Choice award from the Gramophone. This recording formed the basis of some recent programmes made for the American Public Radio Network’s nationwide Pipedreams series. Pipedreams transmitted a complete programme of his playing in 1999, and the two further programmes have been recorded for transmission in 2011/12.
The DVDs of the first two series of 21st-Century Bach were released in April 2006, and Signum has issued Series 3. A DVD of the organ at York Minster was issued in 2008 by Priory.
In addition to his booklet on Bach, John Scott Whiteley has researched and published a book about the music of the Belgian composer, Joseph Jongen. He has contributed articles on Bach to The Organ Yearbook and on Jongen to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and in 2003 he was principal lecturer and recitalist at the Colloque Joseph Jongen organised by the Conservatoire of Brussels. He has also transcribed, published and re-recorded the famous Symphony improvised by Pierre Cochereau at Notre-Dame in 1963.
Composition has recently occupied him more frequently, and he has now completed some eighteen works for organ and seventeen church compositions. The former include his recent Passacaglia and five pieces inspired by the Five Sisters Windows in York Minster. Highlights among the church music are the Five Cathedral Motets and the large-scale anthem At the Round Earth’s Imagin’d Corners. In 2010 he recorded a CD of his own organ works played on the organ of York Minster.
Between 2000 and 2008 John Scott Whiteley directed the Girl Choristers at York Minster, with whom he recorded a CD of the music of Lassus in 2008. He has taught the organ at the University of Hull, and, as a visiting tutor, at the Royal Northern College of Music, where he has also adjudicated. He is an examiner for the ABRSM and for the Council of the Royal College of Organists, having been a member of the council for over ten years.
Having retired from York Minster, John Scott Whiteley has just had his own small concert hall built. An organ is currently being installed in this, which will become a venue for recitals and master classes. (further details at johnscottwhiteley.com)