Interview


***Interview officielle et intégrale, Official and integral interview***
Ayant eu la chance de côtoyer Helga,je suis encore en contact avec elle:je possède bien d'autres témoignages la concernant.
Helga a eu la gentillesse de répondre a quelques questions que voici:

 

1/Dans quelles circonstances es-tu allée a l'Église la toute première fois?
Mon père était un solitaire. Il avait construit notre maison dans une vallée où nous étions les seuls habitants. Mon tout premier souvenir est fixé sur le jour de ce déménagement dans une maison toute neuve et vide, entourée de champs et de forêts, dans laquelle ma sœur ainée tâchait d'allumer un feu. J'ai dû avoir quatre ou cinq ans. L'église la plus proche se trouvait au village à trois kilomètres de distance. Il y avait un très bel orgue. Je ne me souviens pas moi-même, mais ma mère m'a rapporté qu'en rentrant de la messe, à laquelle mes parents assistaient régulièrement, je reproduisait de mémoire la musique que j'y avais entendue sur l'harmonium qui se trouvait à la maison de mes parents.


2/Ton Frère Ulrich était-il déjà organiste?
Mon frère était déjà organiste-improvisateur, mais l'accès à l'orgue du village - un orgue historique - nous était totalement interdit jusqu'à la mort de l'organiste titulaire. Par la suite mon frère a été appelé de devenir l'organiste de cette paroisse.


3/Comment ton Frère connaissait-il Jehan Alain?
Mon frère écoutait tous les dimanche matin une émission radiophonique sur la musique d'orgue. Il était très attiré par la musique française, de Franck à Dupré. Il improvisait dans ce style de musique et prenait des cours d'orgue à Francfort avec un spécialiste de musique française.


4/A quelle occasion as-tu entendu la musique de Jehah Alain, la toute première fois de ta vie:s'agissait-il des Litanies?
Un jour, dans un concert d'orgue dans une ville à 12 kilomètres de chez mes parents, mon frère a joué les Litanies de Jehan Alain. J'ai dû avoir douze ou treize ans et je lui tournais les pages. Au moment des Litanies je me suis dit que jamais de ma vie je n'arriverais jouer cette musique qui me fascinait. Par cette vision de regret, sur le champs, j'ai pris la décision de travailler un peu plus "sérieusement" mon orgue... J'étais en effet un enfant qui ne faisait pas toujours ce que l'on lui disait faire (des gammes et des exercices techniques par exemple) - un enfant qui rêvait beaucoup, qui était "heureux dans son monde" et qui, dans le regard des autres était à la fois entêté, timide et sauvage.


5/Ta sœur a grandi dans le même milieu social que toi et pourtant....
A l'époque j'avais trois sœurs - entretemps c'est une qui a disparu dans un accident de voiture. Mes sœurs ont pris une autre orientation, sans doute parce qu'elles n'ont pas la même sensibilité d'artiste.


6/Dans quelles circonstances as-tu connu Jean Langlais ?
7/Je suppose que c'est a une époque ou tu n’étais pas encore organiste titulaire a l’église évangélique Allemande.
C'était pendant mes années d'études au conservatoire de Cologne, probablement en 1981. Jean Langlais jouait un concert à la cathédrale d'Altenberg, une demi-heure de route de Cologne, en pleine campagne. J'ai assisté à ce concert en compagnie d'une amie chanteuse française, qui, elle, connaissait Langlais personnellement. Jean Langlais, aveugle, détestait les réceptions. Sachant que mon amie et moi étaient venus en voiture de Cologne, il prétendait de devoir prendre un train à Cologne immédiatement après le concert afin de pouvoir monter dans ma petite voiture d'étudiante et éviter la réception à l'issu du concert. Arrivés à Cologne nous avions trois heures devant nous pour dîner ensemble dans une restaurant près de la gare. Ce soir-là nous concluions un marché : il était décidé que pendant mon année d'études à Paris, dans un avenir tout proche, je garderais sa petite fille Caroline quand il s'absentait avec sa femme pour des concerts. En contrepartie il allait mettre à ma disposition son orgue de salon pour répéter. Hélas, sur le champs, la petite fille ne voulait pas se séparer de sa mère - et finalement je ne gardais pas la fille mais son père: c'est pendant les dix dernières années de sa vie que j'ai accompagné Jean Langlais lors de ses déplacements en France et en Allemagne.


8/J'ai eu l'impression que lors de la réalisation de ce premier CD de ton intégrale Bach, on sent que tu t'es mise dans la peau d'un jeune Bach âgé de 18ans: est-ce vrai?

Oui, car mon but tout au long des 14 CDs de l'intégral est de montrer l'évolution de Bach ainsi que l'évolution de sa musique. Il y a beaucoup plus de fraîcheur et de spontanéité dans ses œuvres de jeunesse, ce qui est tout à fait normal...

 

9/Comment qualifies-tu l'approche de Bach par Marie-Claire Alain , Jean Guillou ... en regard de ton tous tes CDs de ton intégrale Bach?
Il me semble que mon Bach est plus humain, plus naturel, plus souriant. Il n'est pas fait de marbre.


10/D'après les images contenues dans ce premier CD, il semble que la taille de cette copie de l'orgue est beaucoup plus importante que celui de la Rue Blanche, là où tu es organiste titulaire .
Non, l'orgue de Pontaumur n'a que trois jeux de plus que celui de la rue Blanche.


11/Es-tu convaincue qu'un débutant est obligé de répéter des gammes sur un piano avant de toucher un orgue?Et comment faire pour que ce débutant ne soit pas rebuté par l'orgue?

Tout dépend comment on lui présente les choses. Normalement, avec un bon professeur, on n'est rebuté ni par des gammes ni par l'orgue, car on finira tôt ou tard par comprendre le sens de ce que l'on fait.


12/Considères-tu que l'orgue de Notre Dame n'est plus un Cavalle-Coll: certains, dont je ne citerai pas le nom, diraient qu'il aurait été trafiqué...???

 

Tous les grands instruments de Cavaillé-Coll ont été modifiés, remaniés, augmentés... celui de Notre-Dame n'a pas échappé à cette folie de la race humaine consistant à toujours en vouloir plus!


Encore merci Helga Schauerte pour cet entretient.
Note : Interview transmise par Lior ancien élève de Helga Schauerte



Second interview

1 Setting the stage for our conversation regarding your career and your championing of Jehan Alain’s compositions, would you recount some of your childhood musical experiences in your hometown, near Cologne, Germany, that led to your interest in the organ, and also relate how you were introduced to studying the organ at an early age?
When I was a child I was attracted by the colors and the sound of the historical organ that stood in our neighborhood church, but I didn’t have access to it until I became organist of that church at the age of 13. My first public appearance as a church organist, however, occurred three years earlier, by accident, precisely one day after my tenth birthday. The pastor of another church was searching an organist to play two services. He called my father to ask if my brother was available. My brother was not in town, but as I was able to improvise and accompany all church hymns in F-major, I was engaged on the spot. The entire service, though, had to be in F-major! My first solo organ recital was at the age of 17.


2 What was your formal music education in Germany and what drew you, a German native, to Paris?

After earning the baccalaureate degree (1976) I studied music at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik Köln, as well as philosophy and pedagogy at the University of the City of Cologne. In the organ class of Viktor Lukas, the repertory focalized on Bach and Reger. To study French and Italian organ music, I participated in summer organ courses with Marie-Claire Alain (Saint-Donat, 1978), André Marchal, Xavier Darasse (Toulouse 1979), Michael Radulescu and Luigi Tagliavini (1982). As I had fallen in love with the person and music of Jehan Alain, and almost nothing about the composer was available in German language, I decided in 1981 to continue my organ studies with Marie-Claire Alain in Paris and, at the same time, to do research about her brother. That year I also met Jean Langlais, who entrusted me with the first performance of several of his organ works.


3. How did you establish your professional position in Paris?
During my studies, in December 1982, I was appointed organist of the German Lutheran Church in Paris. I established several organ classes: in Paris at the Conservatoire Nadia et Lili Boulanger, in Andresy, and at the French-German Music School in Saint-Cloud. I also created an annual organ academy in Pontaumur (near Clérmont-Ferrand) to promote German Organ Music, utilizing the French copy of J. S. Bach’s organ of Arnstadt.


4 What sparked your initial interest in Jehan Alain and what prompted you to specialize in researching his life and in performing his organ works?
It is difficult to explain why one is passionate about something. Maybe I was totally charmed by the freedom and the independence of this music. I felled that Jehan Alain’s music needed performers who enjoyed a certain way of unconventional playing. I got the impression that the music called for discovery and that I was going to discover it while living in France.

 

5 I remember performing my first recital in your church in 1987and traveling from there to the International Congress of Organists in Cambridge and London, and from there going to Kiel, Germany to perform. You were at the same time continuing research on Alain’s wartime experiences and death in Saumur, France, and phoned me in Kiel to tell me a modern-day “fairy tale!” Would you please recount that lovely story?


Alain was a skilled and passionate motorcyclist. During World War II he served as a dispatch rider. On June 20, 1940, assigned to reconnoiter the German advance on the eastern side of Saumur, he encountered a company of German soldiers, attacked, and was killed in action. He was buried the same day near the place where he had died.


In the summer 1987, just after you had left Paris, I took the train to do research in Saumur. In consideration of my coming, one of the majors of the city had gathered four witnesses in the house that was next to the property where Jehan Alain had died. Among them was Marthe Guibert, 92 years old, who had given a linen sheet in which to bury the body (see the photograph of Alain’s first grave). After the discussion with all the witnesses I asked to see the exact place of the composers’ first provisory grave. This, however, seemed to be impossible: the house and the garden were surrounded by a high wall and served only as vacation home for a Parisian family. As I insisted on ringing the doorbell, surprisingly Philippe, who later became my husband, opened the gate. He had just arrived by car from Paris to mow the lawn. My surprise was matched by his, because he had never before heard the name of Jehan Alain!


Probably it was destiny that we met again the same evening at an organ concert in the city. After the concert I happened to learn the address of Alain’s military chaplain from someone in the audience. It was a two-hour drive from Saumur to meet this person, and I didn’t have a car. Philippe immediately offered his assistance in accomplishing the interview, and (I am not going into details) we married one year later in Saumur. Alain’s daughter, Lise Delamare, commented on the wedding, which was transformed into a three-day, joyful celebration French-German friendship, as follows : “Je dois dire que la manière dont vous avez fait la connaissance de votre fiancé me touche beaucoup: c’est un peu comme si mon père à qui vous avez consacré une si grande partie de vote vie, vous avait conduit vers lui… » (I must say that the manner in which you have met your fiancé touches me greatly. It is somehow as if my father, to whom you have devoted a large part of your life, had brought you together…)


6. How has your relationship with Bärenreiter developed, and what editorial projects have resulted?


The first contact was an invitation from the editor to contribute to the new edition of the MGG. Later, in 1999, Bärenreiter invited me again to write about French organ subjects for the Handbuch Orgelmusik (700 pages), supervised by Rudolf Faber and Philipp Hartmann and published in 2002. I took the opportunity to ask if the editor was interested in an Urtext edition of Alain’s organ works to be published in 2011, when the copyrights expired. Juergen Bonn, the person responsible for the organ department, accepted my proposal straightaway. At that time he was looking for a scholar to work on a Boëllmann urtext edition, and he thought I was the right person. Our very enjoyable cooperation has proved to be quite prolific. Since the first volume of Boëllmann (2002) I have prepared and published some 20 volumes of music, including the organ music of Theodore Dubois, the organ and piano music of Louis Vierne, and the choral music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier.


7 Please elaborate upon the forthcoming Alain Edition which you have prepared for Bärenreiter for publication early in 2011. How does this edition differ from those previously published?

As I mentionned before, it will be the first urtext edition of his music. It will be based on the critical examination and evaluation of all the autographs known today. It endeavors to be philologically consistent in solving the editorial problems that have surfaced since the first editions appeared. Unfortunately, the first editions were prepared during World War II. They cover only on about 70% of the autographs that are known today. Missing indications in the manuscripts that were used for the first edition were added to the scores by other members of the Alain family (successively by Albert and Olivier Alain, and later by Marie-Claire Alain) without specifying that these were not original elements. No one seemed to be concerned about the amalgam until, in June 1986, I published my first article, “Jehan Alain and his Deuxième Fantaisie” in THE AMERICAN ORGANIST. In December 1989, I discussed the editorial problems with Leduc, Alain’s main editor, in the hope of working on a new edition in collaboration with my respected teacher, Marie-Claire Alain.


8 You have gathered a number of Alain manuscripts into the Schauerte-Maubouet Collection. Would you offer examples of how findings in some of these prompted your new edition?
I will give you two examples: First, Jehan Alain composed his Intermezzo in 1934. There are three versions of the piece: for string quartet with piano (first version, unpublished), for two pianos and bassoon (second version) and for organ (third version). The organ version is rather difficult to play, as it makes use of a double pedal with separate registrations. Up to now, there has been no solution for this exceptional technical challenge; in fact, the piece, as written, was not performable, not even on the Alain house organ.  In the new Bärenreiter edition, there are two versions of this organ piece - one from 1934 and another, completely unknown previously, from 1936 - and one will learn for which organ the Intermezzo was composed and to whom it was dedicated.


Second, in 1942, while the first edition was in preparation, the three-stave organ manuscript of the Premier Prélude profane was not at hand. Albert Alain published a transcription that he compiled from the two-stave piano manuscript. In 1987, I was given access to some 40 musical autographs in the home of Lola Bluhm, who was a friend of Alain’s. Among the manuscripts I discovered the lost organ version, which is very different from father Alain’s transcription. I recorded the piece by playing from the autograph in June 1989. The two CDs comprising my performance of the complete organ works, as well as an improvisation played by Jehan Alain himself, were released in 1990. They are still available from the German label Motette; the recorded Premier Prélude profane will now (20 years later) correspond with its printed version in the Bärenreiter edition.


9 You have recorded the complete organ works of Jehan Alain, as well as those of Buxtehude and Johann Sebastian Bach, in addition to recordings of compositions by Walther, Corrette, Reger, Boëllmann, Langlais and others. What has driven you to pursue such projects and how do you find time and concentration for them in the midst of your professional obligations as a church musician, conservatory professor, musicologist, and recitalist?

I have been fortunate to have met several persons in my life who urged me to invest some of my free time in these recording projects. Since 1995, I have produced most of my recordings for SYRIUS, a small French label directed by Bernard Neveu, who gives me “carte blanche” to decide what, when, and on which organ I wished to record. Most of my recordings are made on historical instruments and are dedicated to one composer. Since 1989, I have recorded more than 30 CDs as a soloist and will continue in this activity as long as I feel that I can learn immensely from doing so.


10. For someone as young as you are, your accomplishments have been so impressive. Are there additional challenges calling to you, any goals as yet unfulfilled?
During my studies, I wrote a brief biography of Jehan Alain that was published in German (1983) and in French (1985). Unfortunately, many of my discoveries about Alain were made following these publications. Therefore, I wrote a second biography in French in 1989 comprising 236 pages. Although it includes a preface written by Olivier Messiaen, this book, connected with France, for some reason has not yet found a publisher. However, guided by my determination and my persistence, my inner voice tells me to cling to Jehan Alain’s words, which are reproduced in the unpublished manuscript and were extracted from a letter to his godmother, Marguerite Evain, that is thought to have been written in March 1940: On n’a jamais abattu une force spirituelle par la persécution. C’est dans la douleur que naît la force véritable. (Never is intellectual energy discouraged through persecution. It is in tribulation that is born genuine strength.)

 

Peggy Kelley Reinburg Copyright 2011, by the American Guild of Organists. Reproduced by permission of The American Organist Magazine.