The first concerto for Hammond organ and orchestra?

The first concerto for Hammond organ and orchestra?


norman lebrecht

January 26, 2019

This claims to be the first.

It’s by the Danish composer Anders Koppel and the world premiere was in November.

Quite poignant, actually, and very proficient.

Koppel, 72, has written no fewer than 33 concertos for varied instruments.


  • Suzanne says:

    Brett Dean’s Concerto for Cello, recently premiered by Alban Gerhardt, features the Hammond Organ prominently and beautifully.

  • John Borstlap says:

    A clever confection…… As we know, there has been an urgent need for such concerto, given the accusations that classical music is so elitist.

    • Robin Bermanseder says:

      With respect, how does this address perceived elitism? The Hammond organ (which I thoroughly enjoy for it’s iconic 60’s sound) is no longer a popular trope. To suggest that it is counter-elitist brings “tokenism” to (my) mind, so could be counter-productive.

      • John Borstlap says:

        Instruments are not merely sound producing things, they also have a specific character in terms of sound, and an aura of quality around them, inviting for associations, like the saxophone which was developed as an extra instrument for the symphony orchestra but has found its real place and destiny in entertainment music because of the character and sound quality of the instrument. Given the thoroughly vulgar sound of the hammond organ, an sintrument entirely superfluous in relation to serious music, associations are with the most awful entertainment music from half a century ago – its place and time of birth, which mostly has been forgotten in one of those well-meaning bouts of historic amnesia, and to dig it out to bring its primitive aura in contact with the symphony orchestra merely reveals a deplorable lack of musical taste. But the piece, which is cooked-up entertainment music, is already a deplorable mistake in itself, it belongs to the sphere of entertainment kitsch.

        • Robin Bermanseder says:

          Thank you for responding.
          Now I understand – you were being sarcastic!
          Sorry, I took your comments at face value. I thought you were trying to address the problem of elitism.
          As I said, I like the Hammond sound. I have fond memories from my youth of learning to play on (a cheap version of) the organ, and of being inspired by the newfound ability to create a wide range of tones, sounds and effects.
          Alas, I did not realize as a child that the sound was vulgar, and that I have a deplorable lack of musical taste.
          I won’t trouble this forum again. It is definitely the domain of the elite.

          • John Borstlap says:

            There is nothing, really nothing, against the hammond organ as there is nothing against any musical instrument in itself. But what is important is the context in which it operates. There is also nothing against vulgarity in itself, given human nature, but the classical performance culture is clearly the wrong place to fully come into its own right. It is also imappropriate to appear in court in clown costume while there is nothing against clownerie in itself. (Nudism is another example.)

            And then, I think it is of a much higher musical level to play the hammond organ and experiment with its properties than merely listening to a CD with Bach. But we don’t do that on the concert stage.

          • James says:

            Robin – NEVER take Borstlap’s comments at face value. I recommend it best to consume his comments in the same way as you would his music… Not at all.

          • John Borstlap says:

            A kind minority point of view.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Bor-slap writes: “…the thoroughly vulgar sound of the hammond organ, an instrument entirely superfluous in relation to serious music”

          Sorry, but this is hilariously snobbish and ridiculous. But pure comedy gold.

      • Allen says:

        “With respect, how does this address perceived elitism?”

        I was wondering exactly the same thing.

        I suspect that quite a few younger people have never heard of it. It was superseded for very good reasons.

  • Peter says:

    Jon Lord’s Durham Concerto has multiple soloists, of which one was the Hammond organ.

    • Paul Mann says:

      In fact, Jon was composing a Hammond concerto for the Oslo Philharmonic, which was left unfinished when he died.

  • Dear Mr. Lebrecht,

    thank you for your attention and posting about Anders Koppel’s Hammond-Concerto. I was lucky to conduct the first performance and to work long time in advance with him on it in a – what I would call – respectful, purposeful, professional and warm-hearted composer-conductor relationship. During our rehearsals with the Aarhus Symphony Orchestra we became true friends for lifetime. I have worked with other living composers over the years, although with much younger ones, and I must admit that I specially admired Anders‘ proficiency, his modesty towards music and his unpretentiousness.

    Thank you again for posting, with my warmest greetings from Germany,


  • nikoghos says:

    I love the piece but doubt if it’s the first of the genre. Jon Lord composed his concerto for Hammond organ and orchestra in 2012: