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Edward George Power Biggs (March 29, 1906March 10, 1977), more familiarly known as E. Power Biggs, was a concert organist and recording artist.


Biggs was born in Westcliff-on-Seamarker, Essex, Englandmarker; a year later, the family moved to the Isle of Wightmarker. Biggs was trained in Londonmarker at the Royal Academy of Musicmarker, where he studied with G.D. Cunningham. Biggs emigrated to the United Statesmarker in 1930. In 1932, he took up a post in Cambridge, Massachusettsmarker, where he lived for the rest of his life.

Biggs did much to bring the classical pipe organ back to prominence, and was in the forefront of the mid-20th-century resurgence of interest in the organ music of pre-Romantic composers. On his first concert tour of Europe, in 1954, Biggs performed and recorded works of Johann Sebastian Bach, Sweelinck, Dieterich Buxtehude, and Pachelbel on historic organs associated with those composers. Thereafter, he believed that such music should ideally be performed on instruments representative of that period and that organ music of that epoch should be played by using (as closely as possible) the styles and registrations of that era. Thus, he sparked the American revival of organ building in the style of European Baroque instruments, seen especially in the increasing popularity of tracker organs — analogous to Europe's Orgelbewegung.

Among other instruments, Biggs championed G. Donald Harrison's Baroque-style unenclosed, unencased instrument with 24 stops and electric action (produced by Aeolian-Skinner in 1937 and installed in Harvardmarker's Busch-Reisinger Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts) and the three-manual Flentrop tracker organ subsequently installed there in 1958. Many of his CBS radio broadcasts and Columbia recordings were made in the museum. Another remarkable instrument used by Biggs was the Challis pedal harpsichord; Biggs made recordings of the music of J.S. Bach and Scott Joplin on this instrument.

His critics of the time included rival concert organist Virgil Fox, who was known for a more flamboyant, colorful style of performance. Fox decried Biggs' insistence on historical accuracy, claiming it was "relegating the organ to a museum piece." However, most observers agree that Biggs "should be given great credit for his innovative ideas as far as the musical material he recorded, and for making the organs he recorded even more famous."

In addition to concertizing and recording, Biggs taught at the Longy School of Musicmarker and the Peabody Conservatorymarker at various times in his career and edited a large body of organ music.

For his contribution to the recording industry, E. Power Biggs has a star on California's Hollywood Walk of Famemarker, at 6522 Hollywood Blvd.

Selected discography

Many of his recordings are fondly recalled by classical music aficionados, even though only a handful of them are currently available, such as Bach — The Four Great Toccatas and Fugues, on the Sony BMG Masterworks label.

He recorded extensively for the Columbia Masterworks Records and RCA Victor labels for more than three decades. Between 1942 and 1958, he also hosted a weekly radio program of organ music (carried throughout the United States on the CBS Radio Network) that introduced audiences to the pipe organ and its literature.

  • Bach: Four Great Toccatas & Fugues
  • Works for Organ: Essential Classics
  • Bach: Great Organ Favorites
  • The Golden Age of the Organ, Columbia Masterworks M2S 697 (A tribute to German organ builder Arp Schnitger)
  • Plays Bach in the Thomaskirche, Columbia Masterworks M30648
  • E. Power Bigg's Greatest Hits, Columbia Masterworks MS 7269
  • Bach Organ Favorites, Columbia Masterworks MS 6261
  • Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 2, Columbia Masterworks MS 6748
  • Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 3, Columbia Masterworks MS 7108
  • Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 4, Columbia Masterworks MS 7424
  • Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 5, Columbia Masterworks M 31424
  • Bach Organ Favorites, Vol. 6, Columbia Masterworks M 32791
  • Mozart: The Music for Solo Organ — Played on the "Mozart" organ at Haarlem, Columbia Masterworks MS 6856
  • Sweelink: Variations on Popular Songs, Columbia Masterworks AMS 6337
  • A Festival of French Organ Music, Columbia Masterworks MS 6307
  • Buxtehude at Lüneburg, Columbia Masterworks MS 6944
  • Stars and Stripes Forever — Two Centuries of Heroic Music in America, Columbia Masterworks 81507
  • The Organ in America, Columbia Masterworks MS 6161
  • Historic Organs of England, Columbia Masterworks M 30445
  • Historic Organs of France, Columbia Masterworks MS 7438
  • Historic Organs of Italy, Columbia Masterworks MS 7379
  • Historic Organs of Spain, Columbia Masterworks MS 7109
  • Historic Organs of Switzerland, Columbia Masterworks MS 6855
  • The Four Antiphonal Organs of the Cathedral of Freiburg, Columbia Masterworks M 33514 (music of Handel, Purcell, Mozart, Buxtehude, et al.)
  • Bach on the Pedal Harpsichord, Columbia Masterworks MS 6804
  • Bach: The Six Trio Sonatas (Pedal Harpsichord), Columbia Masterworks M2S 764
  • Holiday for Harpsichord, Columbia Masterworks ML 6728
  • A Mozart Organ Tour, Columbia Masterworks K3L 231
  • Bach: The Little Organ Book, Columbia Masterworks KSL 227
  • The Art of the Organ, Columbia Masterworks KSL 219
  • Heroic Music for Organ, Brass, and Percussion, Columbia Masterworks MS 6354
  • Mozart: Festival Sonatas for Organ and Orchestra, Columbia Masterworks MS 6857
  • Haydn: The Three Organ Concertos, Columbia Masterworks MS 6682
  • The Magnificent Mr. Handel, Columbia Masterworks M 30058
  • The Organ in Sight and Sound, Columbia Masterworks KS 7263 (A technical discussion of the organ and its history)
  • The Organ Concertos of Handel, Nos. 1–6, Columbia Masterworks K2S 602 (with Sir Adrian Boult)
  • The Organ Concertos of Handel, Nos. 7–12, Columbia Masterworks K2S 604 (with Sir Adrian Boult)
  • The Organ Concertos of Handel, Nos. 13–16, Columbia Masterworks K2S 611 (with Sir Adrian Boult)
  • The Organ, Columbia Masterworks DL 5288
  • Bach at Zwolle, Columbia Masterworks KS-6005
  • Famous Organs of Holland and North Germany, Columbia Masterworks M31961
  • Music of Jubilee, Columbia Masterworks ML 6015 (Bach Sinfonias, with Zoltan Rozsnyai)
  • Soler: Six Concerti for Two Organs, Columbia Masterworks ML 5608 (with Daniel Pinkham)
  • Plays Scott Joplin on the Pedal Harpsichord, Columbia Masterworks ????
  • Heroic Music for Organ, Brass & Percussion, Columbia Masterworks MS 6354 (with the New England Brass Ensemble)
  • Music for Organ and Brass — Canzonas of Gabrieli and Frescobaldi, Columbia Masterworks MS 6117
  • Mendelssohn in St. Paul's Cathedral, Columbia Masterworks MS 6087
  • "The Glory of Gabrieli" Columbia Masterworks MS-7071

Awards and Recognitions

Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance:


External links

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