5 JANUARY 1940, Page 24


SIR,—Your correspondent Mr. P. A. Shaw suggests that recitals on the church organ should take the place of many of the organ recitals given by the B.B.C. But might it not be well to increase the number of a third class of organ recital, which might after all be found to be the most suitable for broadcasting, namely, the artistic concert organ recital? Eighty-five years ago the Corporation of Liverpool erected in St. George's Hall the first and finest concert organ in the world. It was the work of " Father " Willis, from the original design of Dr. S. S. Wesley, improved later, for its special purpose, 'on the instigation of the organist to the Corporation, the late Mr. W. T. Best. In The Organ and Its Position in Musical Art the late Mr. H. Heathcote Statham, architect, organist, critic and author, has described how Mr. Best led the public on to appreciate the finest music, not only classical organ music, but music of every kind which could be suitably presented in an organ translation. Mr. Best gave three recitals a week to always admiring audiences for 4o years, and in playing many thousands of pieces, all of them flawless in execution and appropriate in style, put before the public of Liverpool and the neighbourhood practically all the music that could be artistically presented on the organ. Mr. Statham held that the programmes at St. George's Hall, Liverpool, were the most remarkable ever gone through by any performer on any instrument, but that Mr. Best's unique artistry had never had the general recognition it deserved. Mr. Best also left behind him the largest library of instruction books, editions of the classics, compositions and arrangements that ever proceeded from a single pen. Would not a study of the programmes, practices and printed works of this great organist, who earned the admiration of Liszt and von Billow, help to a solution of the question of the B.B.C.- organ recitals?—I am, your obedient servant,

P.S.—It is not generally known that Beethoven, at one time an organist himself, wrote that he placed an organist who was master of his instrument first among the virtuosi.