Friday, January 29, 2016

Handel: Cuckoo and the Nightingale (Biggs, Fiedler)

E. Power Biggs, 1937
As I was growing up, E. Power Biggs (1906-1977) was a one-man institution in organ-playing, at least in my awareness, through his many, many Columbia LPs spanning a wide range of repertoire, performed on historic organs all over the world. His career at Columbia spanned some thirty years, but before this, he had been at Victor from 1939 to 1946, where most of his work was done on the 1937 Aeolian-Skinner organ built to Baroque specifications (pictured above) and located in Harvard's Germanic Museum. His recordings included collaborations with Arthur Fiedler and his Sinfonietta composed of Boston Symphony players; in fact Biggs' first Victor release was of a Handel concerto with Fiedler, which Larry Austin has made available here. A year later, they recorded this most popular of the Handel concertos:

Handel: Concerto No. 13 in F Major ("The Cuckoo and the Nightingale")
E. Power Biggs, organ, with Arthur Fiedler's Sinfonietta
Recorded March 17, 1940
RCA Victor set M-733, two 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC file, 40.36 MB)
Link (MP3 file, 28.11 MB)

Both Biggs and Fiedler would later make complete recordings of the Handel organ concertos in stereo - but not together: Biggs' set was with Boult and the London Philharmonic, for Columbia, and Fiedler's was with Carl Weinrich for RCA.


  1. Alternate links:



  2. thank you for this trip down memory lane, i recall e. power biggs from my childhood. -cheers, a.v.