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Bine Katrine Bryndorf – master of the organ

Bine Bryndorf spelar på en orgel. Foto.

Since last year Malmö Academy of Music’s organ students have had the pleasure of attending lessons with Bine Katrine Bryndorf.  Apart from being a sought-after teacher, Bryndorf is also the domorganist of Roskilde Cathedral where she oversees the world-famous baroque organ by Hermann Raphaëlis (1654).

Bryndorf grew up in Denmark and had her eyes set on the organ from a surprisingly young age; at twelve she already knew what she wanted to do in life. During her early school years she attended organ lessons, master classes and made sure to learn German so she could move to Vienna and study at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna (MDW) under famed organist Michael Radulescu.

When I ask her to choose one (and only one!) favourite piece or composer for the organ, Bine goes for Radulescu yet again. Right now, she is working on his “Madrigali” and explains: 

– As with many of his other pieces I find it difficult to learn. That means I have to work a lot with my own practice, which is interesting and rewarding. The music is very intense so I must work with it in smaller time slots and for the audience it is also a challenge. But, full of contrasts and extreme beauty.

From student to master 

Just like Radulescu, nowadays Bryndorf is nothing short of a celebrated organist herself with an impressive list of achievements. After a master’s degree in organ, harpsichord, and church music from MDV, as well as an Artist Diploma from the University of Music in Saarbrücken, she moved back to Denmark where she served as Professor, and later Head of Department, at the Royal Danish Academy of Music for twenty-four years. Currently, she is Professor of organ at the Royal Academy of Music in London in addition to teaching at Malmö Academy of Music. 

– I really enjoy teaching. Specifically, working with students and helping them to find their way into the music, solving technical problems together, developing their technique and their understanding and performing of the music, watching and helping them grow in some of the most important years of their life. 

– I remember when I studied privately with William Porter from Rochester, New York, for a while. He gave me the best piece of advice ever for my own teaching “Don’t talk, make them do it!” I often think of it, especially when teaching improvisation because it is absolutely crucial for your understanding and your performance that you are not just shown what to do but that you try it out yourself.

– Therefore, I tell my students that they really have to consider their own practice the most valuable and most interesting time in their daily work. You must keep developing your practice methods, look for new ways of learning, of remembering, of making music, of performing, of moving your listener.

Finding balance

Apart from being an excellent pedagogue, Bine also enjoys an international career as a soloist and has toured extensively throughout Europe, the US, Canada, and Japan. She is also a prize-winner at several international organ competitions (Innsbruck, Bruges, and Odense) as well as chamber music competitions (Melk and Copenhagen), not to mention winning the distinguished Danish P2 Prize in 2007, for her recording of the complete works of Buxtehude. So, what is more important, teaching or touring? 

–  For most musicians I believe that their working life is like a big jigsaw puzzle and the bricks are teaching, performing, practicing and planning/administration. For me all bricks are equally important, but definitely not equally interesting! Teaching and making music myself are life important to me. And from time to time the one or the other is the most important.

Thank you, Bine!