The entire Soviet Union possessed a token six organs fifty-off years ago. They were used for funeral music alone, or to accompany singers. Svyatoslav Richter heard Harry, then last-year Conservatory boy, at a concert. The illustrious pianist sat up and took notice-and arranged Harry's first solo concert. That was how Organ Age started in Russia.
Russians cherish organ music far more than Westerners, Grodberg said in an interview. "The West has no organ concert halls-all its organs are in churches. There are no permanent performers, and the instruments are tuned once or twice a year, for Christmas or Easter.
"I was lucky to play renowned German organs. One of them, in Freiburg, is 300 years old. Bach was playing it! I played in Hamburg and Bonn.
"The Tchaikovsky Hall instrument is the best of the world's concert organs for today. It has an excellent sound, what with two staff tuners and a computer man-and me to supervise. An organ is something of an industrial plant, and it needs good management."
Grodberg will play that fine instrument next Saturday.
"I have been Mr. Bach's dedicated servant for more than fifty years, and I always bow to his genius. He had an unbridled imagination in a tandem with precise calculation. He knew the polyphonic canon to a T, and was at the same time a free improviser. Even the most dramatic of Bach pieces strive for the light and good. His music is in tune with the human thirst for the ideal," says the musician.
Harry Grodberg is Russia's topmost Bach performer. He was the first Russian to play Bach cycles-a total sixteen concert programmes. He was godfather of several dozen new organs in all parts of Russia. The Tchaikovsky Hall instrument was one of them. "I inoculated thousands of Russian music-lovers with the Bach bacillus," he jokes.
"An Enlightener as no other-the subtlest expert on Bach," European music critics say about Harry Grodberg.