Susan k. Chen Memorial Foundation for Music Education

The Professor Ludger Lohmann That I Know

In recent years, through frequent research for organ repertoire on the Internet, I made an interesting discovery. Many up-and-coming organists that I admire have one thing in common; they all have studied under Professor Ludger Lohmann at The State University of Music and Performing Arts Stuttgart.

Dr. Lohmann is the winner of numerous international pipe organ competitions and his performance schedule is often packed to the brim. In addition to his superb performance skills, Dr. Lohmann has been a faculty member of the Stuttgart University of Music for nearly 40 years, whilst also serving as the organist of St. Eberhard Catholic Church. Moreover, he is a globally sought-after keynote speaker and has been involved in many music camps, master classes, and competitions. He continues to perform various types of organ music, ranging from the earliest periods to the present day. Out of his many accomplishments, his scholarly reputation rests upon his studies of articulation in keyboard instruments from the 16th to 18th centuries (Die Artikulation auf den Tasteninstrumenten des 16.–18. Jahrhunderts).

My earliest contact with Professor Lohmann was in 1995. At that time, I had just received my master’s degree from the United States and returned to Taiwan to work as a music instructor at my alma mater. During the winter break, I returned to the States to continue studying with Professor Wolfgang Rübsam, my former organ teacher. In the midst of these lessons, I had expressed my desire to further my organ studies. He advised me to go to Europe and study with Professor Lohmann of the Stuttgart University of Music. Thus, a series of fax correspondences began between Professor Lohmann and myself.

In my fax messages to Professor Lohmann, I mainly focused on two topics; one, was advice on getting accepted to the Stuttgart University of Music, and the other, was asking for recommendations on an organ for personal use. He asked to listen to a recording of my performance, so I chose four pieces, two each from two different performances, and sent them to him. The first performance was my first official recital after starting my organ studies, and the second was my graduation recital. My expectation was that he would notice the progress that I had made between the two performances. However, he actually liked my performances from the first concert more than the later one. He noted that although my playing technique had greatly improved by my graduation recital, the first concert demonstrated more of my own unique style.  I was surprised by his outlook, but this may well be the reason why Professor Lohmann has so many outstanding students under his tutelage – he teaches his students to not just be satisfied with imitating other masterful performers, but also to cultivate the ability to think for themselves and develop their own interpretation of the repertoire. I believe this is why his students often stand out among their colleagues.

It was only in 1996 after registering for and attending the Haarlem International Summer Academy for Organists in the Netherlands that I was able to meet Professor Lohmann in person. During the Summer Academy, he had performed a solo recital, and also taught a master class on Max Reger’s repertoire. I was honored to receive his instruction on two pieces. Using a “singing” style, he taught his students to maximize the organ’s capabilities. Professor Lohmann also used the eighteenth-century Müller organ (picture 1) of the famous St. Bavo Church to teach students. Although this is a Baroque instrument, with no Swell pedal for volume control, his ability to guide students to express Romantic period music with a Baroque instrument was highly admirable.

Another innovation worth mentioning is the various organs of different styles (Italian, French, North German, etc.) established at the Stuttgart University of Music that Professor Lohmann involved 30 years ago. He brought together various styles of organs in the same location to make it convenient for learners to play pipe organs with different sounds. Because of his vision, many outstanding organ students from all over the world were attracted to study there. He also recommended that I visit Johannes Rohlf, an organ-builder near Stuttgart. When I was able to test one of his organs (picture 2), the outstanding quality left me speechless. I think that this is also one of the reasons Stuttgart University of Music has become an important institution of pipe organ studies today.

Ultimately, I did not end up applying for the Stuttgart University of Music due to other reasons, but Professor Lohmann has remained a greatly respected teacher of mine. His concepts deeply influenced my thinking afterwards. He is an outstanding performer, scholar, and educator. In addition to having extraordinary imagination and perseverance for music, he also has passion for life and passing his knowledge on. With the last couple of years living in a pandemic, his arrival is not to be taken for granted, and it is bound to be exciting!

by Tao-Min Lin


▍Latest Concert Information

▍Concert introduction

◉【Ludger Lohmann-Concert】
◉ Performance time and location:
  • Lecture: 2021/11/10 (Wed) 19:00 / Taipei National Concert Hall
    Topic:《Research on the touch technique of keyboard instruments from the 16th to the 18th century》
  • 2021/11/11 (Thu) 19:30 / Taipei National Concert Hall
  • 2021/11/14 (Sun) 14:30 / Pingtung Performing Arts Center

◉ Duration of the performance: 100 minutes (including an intermission of 10 minutes)