One Of The Best Ways To Study Music Is By Organ Playing: How to Play Widor’s Toccata?

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Organ Playing: How to Play Widor’s Toccata?

Charles-Marie Vidor’s Toccata for Organ from Symphony No. 5 is one of the most famous organ works, second only to Bach’s D minor Toccata. Fast tempos, timeless toccata imagery, and stunning harmonies make it the perfect piece for a recital, post-wedding retreat, or retreat. Playing this piece is the dream of many organists. In this article I will give tips on playing Widor’s toccata on the organ.

Practice on the piano. This toccata requires a fairly well-developed piano technique, so I suggest you practice this piece on the piano. If you play it on the piano, you will soon notice uneven notes. Try to make all notes smooth and precise. The more you practice this piece on the piano, the more you will enjoy playing it on the organ.

Don’t rush. It’s easy to play too fast, so practice this piece at a slower tempo. If you play it at a fast tempo, the notes will sound rough and your playing will likely lack precision and clarity. Even after you’ve mastered this toccata and performed it in public, stick to a fairly moderate tempo. By playing too fast, it runs the risk of missing important structural and harmonic elements. Indeed, Vidor himself criticized organists who played the piece too quickly.

Notice the subtle staccato articulation. Try to achieve a subtle staccato when playing sixteenth note shapes. Many organists miss this important point, blurring the notes into obscurity in a fast tempo and vast acoustic space. The eighth note in the other hand should also be played staccato. In the French tradition, the best way to staccato is to shorten the note by half, for example, play a sixteenth note and make a sixteenth note.

Option: play one octave lower. If you play this piece on a screaming, tightly mixed organ with very few 8′ base stops in the manual, you can play it an octave lower without the 16′ stops. Playing this way will give your organ more gravitas, and the mix won’t sound too shouty. The left hand never goes below tenor C, so this toccata is perfect for such tricks.

Play scales in second thirds and sixths on the piano. As you know, this toccata requires some advanced piano technique. This means that your fingers should be flexible, smooth and independent. One of the best ways to acquire such skills is to regularly practice two thirds and sixths on the piano. To successfully master this weight in all major and minor keys, you’ll need to use finger-shifting techniques to achieve perfect legato.

If you follow my advice, observe subtle staccatos on the piano, practice this slow-tempo toccata, and develop your technique by playing scales in second thirds and sixths, you can master this wonderful composition. Be patient, accomplish your goals, and stick to your plan, and you’ll have a higher level of performance in this toccata.

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