Howard Goodall's Organ Works

In Howard Goodall’s Organ Works (1997) Howard unveils the secret and the not-so-secret life of the world’s most misunderstood musical wonder – its passion, its murky past, and its madness…This sweeping odyssey through the Northern Hemisphere, whilst being grippingly informative, is anything but reverential. Howard investigates the organ’s turbulent history as the servant of two masters, sacred and secular. From Mediaeval cathedrals to the Tower Ballroom,Blackpool; from Tyrolean castles to the Jazz Café, he follows its relentless progress from holiness to hipness, from classical simplicity to outrageous eccentricity.

For most people, the organ is inextricably linked with gorgeous old churches, and during the series Howard visits some fabulous examples, jolly famous ones, like the ones Bach & Mozart played, and obscure discoveries that have never been filmed before. There are French whoppers by Cavaillé-Coll, and exquisite miniatures from Austria. But the series leaps just as enthusiastically into the organ’s other life outside the church, the world of the mighty Wurlitzer, the bluesy Hammond, and that bleeping electronic thing behind your neighbour’s sofa. This series separates the flutes from the reeds, the digital from the electronic, and the hauptwerk from the brustwerk…

In 1997 Howard Goodall’s Organ Works won the RTS Award for Best Music.

A list of the music played in the programmes can be found here.  A list of interesting facts about organs can be found here.


What the critics said…

“Goodall himself is a clever chap; he knows a lot but puts it over simply without making you feel silly; he drives a car and he cracks jokes; and he actually plays the organ rather well… He’s certainly entertaining, and the director Rupert Edwards seems to have a good eye for atmosphere in some beautiful, and if not beautiful, some intriguing locations.” The Independent

Videos of the series are not at present available commercially, but bona fide students & enthusiasts in Australia and the UK can order privately-made copies by contacting Howard’s PA – details here.