Anton Heiller

Anton Heiller

Organist, Composer, Conductor

Peter Planyavsky

Translated by Christa Rumsey


University of Rochester Press



First English-language study of Anton Heiller (1923-1979), one of the twentieth-century's most influential organists
Anton Heiller is one of the twentieth century's most renowned and influential organists. Born in 1923, Heiller was trained in Vienna and rose to prominence quickly, giving his first solo recital at the age of twenty-two. Before concentrating on the organ exclusively, he was a successful conductor of the symphonic repertoire, and, from 1945 until his untimely death in 1979, he was professor of organ at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna. His interpretations of Bach, which included registration and articulation, as well as a consideration of the theological underpinnings, would change the way Bach is played.
Anton Heiller: Organist, Composer, Conductor provides an assessment of Heiller's works and teaching, while also examining his complex personality, one torn between strong religious devotion and the world of artistry. The narrative also offers a unique view of the organ world in the decades after World War II, featuring the important organs, builders, and organists across North America and Europe.

Peter Planyavsky was Anton Heiller's successor as an organ professor in Vienna, and organist of St. Stephan's Cathedral in Vienna from 1969 through 2004. He is also a prolific composer, improviser, and conductor. Christa Rumsey, a former student of Heiller's, translated the book from the original German.


November 2014
18 black and white, 21 line illustrations
364 pages
9x6 in
Eastman Studies in Music
ISBN: 9781580464970
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC BIO004000, MUS050000, MUS023030
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Table of Contents

Very Early, Very Fast, Very Steep
Beginning in the Golden West: Tyrol, Vorarlberg, Switzerland
Haarlem and the Rest of Europe
Heiller and America
Short Midday, Long Sunset
All the Registers of a Soul
Compositions before ca. 1956
Compositions after ca. 1956
What He Thought, How He Played
Appendix: Organ Specifications
List of Compositions
Index of Names
Index of Subjects


History has already recognized Anton Heiller as a significant figure in 20th-century music, probably the most influential organist of his time. . . .Through his genius and personal charisma, he achieved what others could not: he brought the organ into the mainstream of music where it belongs. Planyavsky's biography delivers this message, while giving a complete picture of Heiller's life and work. . . . Belongs in the personal library of any serious organist. Through this book a great organist continues to interest and also to teach later generations of organists. A comparison . . . demonstrates not only an accurate but sensitive treatment of the original (German text). THE AMERICAN ORGANIST

The biographical chapters make . . . fascinating reading . . . (No chapter) is more gripping than the chapter devoted to "Haarlem and the Rest of Europe." . . . Christa Rumsey has done a sterling service for English-speaking readers by her elegant translation of an important book. ORGAN AUSTRALIA (Bruce Steele)

A remarkable book (about) one of the greats of the mid-twentieth century. Packed with facts and stories. Christa Rumsey's excellent, flowing translation (is) a pleasure to read. SYDNEY ORGAN JOURNAL

The text flows effortlessly. . . . The story is vibrant and gives extremely good insight into life between World War II and 1979 in Austria and life in Vienna in particular. Of interest to any interested in organ music and, in particular, developments in the early to mid-twentieth century. ORGAN MUSIC SOCIETY OF ADELAIDE NEWSLETTER

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