Cameron’s Berlin organ crash

Cameron’s Berlin organ crash


norman lebrecht

October 06, 2014

From a correspondent at the Philharmonie:

Cameron Carpenter opened the organ season of the Berlin Philharmonie for the third year in a row under the title of “organist in residence”. The hall was nearly full for his all Bach program. At the end of the first work on the second half (Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue in C Minor BWV 537), a very loud note continued to sound in the Philharmonie’s Schuke organ (ostensibly newly refurbished), causing Carpenter to leave the stage after accepting the applause. Nearly a fifteen minute period ensued during which various hall technicians tried to repair the organ, and after the instrument was turned off then back on the sound continued. Some patrons were seen running from the auditorium with hands over ears. Finally an announcement was made that the problem was unrepairable, and that Carpenter would continue on the piano rather than end the concert. The Steinway D was brought up on the stage elevator and Carpenter appeared, beginning with Chopin’s Etude in C# Minor (Op. 10, No. 4) and continuing with selections from JS Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (I believe the D Major from Book II), a work by Medtner (I didn’t catch which one, about four minutes long in a minor key), Grainger’s “Handel in the Strand”, an improvisation in jazz style on Gershwin’s ‘Embraceable You’, and finally the Bach-Busoni Chaconne, to wild reception. Encores at the piano included (I think) Rachmaninoff’s arrangement of Bach’s Sinfonia from Cantata 29, and a jazz rendering of “Bist Du bei Mir’. 



  • gerald brennan says:

    Nice recovery! Interesting artist, to say the least.

  • mr oakmount says:

    Excellent! Other artists might have just walked out and left their audience disappointed. Respekt, Herr Carpenter!

  • Some years ago, Royce Lumpkin, a trombone teacher at the University of North Texas was giving a recital of works for trombone and organ. During the third piece the organ seemed to have an ever-diminishing role in the music, to the point of painful absence.

    Finally he put his horn down, walked over to the organ console and following some whispered discussion with the organist, turned to the audience and announced, “The organ has died.”

    There was a minute of confusion about what to do, then an audience member shouted out, “I have the keys to the organ practice room!”

    The audience of about 80 or so got up, marched from the concert hall to the other side of the building and crowded into the organ practice room (standing room only) to hear the remainder of the program.

  • MWnyc says:

    I’m surprised his Virtual Organ wasn’t brought in. (He lives in Berlin, so I presume it wasn’t far away.)

  • Barry Jordan says:

    Just that it needs three pantechnicons to move, and twelve people to put it up, taking something like 8 hours. Portable it ain’t.

    Pity the man knows so little about organ building. There is really no such thing as an “unreparable” cipher on a mechanical organ. Switching consoles could have been an answer to the problem.