ST EDMUND THE KING, NORTHWOOD HILLS
ARCHIVE SEP 2002-AUG 2003
The articles below are taken from my monthly columns in St Edmund's parish magazine ("The King"), which includes full details of my organ voluntaries for that month.
FROM THE CONSOLE - AUGUST 2003
FROM THE CONSOLE - JULY 2003
Although I have never set foot in St Mary's Church in the East end of Southampton, I passed it regularly on my way to and from work during my year teaching at a comprehensive school in the city. It has also been of profound importance to me in a sporting capacity as you will discover. There have been six churches on the current site with the first dating from the seventh century and the present building dating from the 1950s. This replaced one destroyed by enemy bombs during the Second World War. The organ was built in 1956 by the Willis organ company - like the original organ in Winchester Cathedral featured in my column in April - and is one of the largest instruments on the south coast. The celebrated writer on the organ Dr William Sumner said in 1957 "[I do] not know a better instrument in the south of England". The instrument has three manuals and 59 speaking stops. In 1885 a group of men from St Mary's Church Young Men's Association formed a football club called Southampton St Mary's. They later changed their name to Southampton Football Club. I have been an avid supporter of the team for many years and was recently lucky enough to attend the FA Cup final at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff where they narrowly lost to Arsenal. In 2001 they moved to a new stadium less than a mile from the church and commemorated their religious roots by naming the new stadium the St Mary's Stadium.
Johann Sebastian Bach died on July 28th 1750 aged 65 and I shall be featuring four chorale preludes by the master this month. Chorale preludes are free compositions based on German Protestant hymn tunes or chorales of which Bach wrote over one hundred for the organ. "Gottes Sohn Ist Kommen" is based a Christmas hymn while "Erbarm' Dich Mein, O Herre Gott" and "Durch Adam's Fall" are both associated with penitence. "Ach Gott Und Herr" is based on a Lenten hymn with a canon (round) between soprano and tenor. Maurice Greene was a contemporary of J.S.Bach and one of the foremost musicans in England, holding simultanous posts as organist of St Paul's Cathedral, organist and composer to the Royal Chapel, Professor of Music at Cambridge University and Master of the King's Music. He is probably best known to us at St Edmund's for the harvest anthem, "Thou Visitest The Earth".
Prelude - Gottes Sohn Ist Kommen BWV 724 - J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Postlude - Plein Chant & Fugue (Mass for the Parishes) - F.Couperin (1668-1733)
Prelude - Erbarm' Dich Mein, O Herre Gott BWV 721 - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Dialogue & Trio (Mass for the Parishes) - F.Couperin
Prelude - Durch Adam's Fall Ist Ganz Verdebt BWV 705 - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Prelude to a Te Deum - M-A.Charpentier (1643-1704)
Prelude - Ach Gott Und Herr BWV 714 - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Voluntary in C Minor - Maurice Greene (1696-1755)
FROM THE CONSOLE - JUNE 2003
The College of St Hild and St Bede is the largest of the sixteen colleges which make up the University of Durham and was named after two seventh century Saints. St Hild - or St Hilda as she is sometimes known - was the great-niece of King Edwin of Northumbria and became Abbess of Whitby. The Venerable Bede was a historian and priest at a monastery in Jarrow who wrote the highly influential "Ecclesiastical History of the English People". Originally St Hild's and Bede College were separate women's and men's Teacher Training Colleges. The two amalgamated some years ago and now accept both sexes for a full range of undergraduate and post-graduate study. I spent a very happy but tough year here studying for my Postgraduate Certificate of Education. The chapel organ was originally built in 1891by Harrison and Harrison, who also built the instruments in Westminster Abbey, Durham Cathedral and King's College Chapel, Cambridge. If you have internet access there are some pictures of the organ case and the chapel here.
Sunday June 15th sees the 160th anniversary of the birth of Edward Grieg. He was born in Bergen and showed a strong interest in music from an early age. He went to study at the conservatory in Leipzig which was generally regarded as the finest in Europe at the time and he graduated in 1862 with excellent marks. He returned to Scandinavia, working as a composer firstly in Copenhagen and then in Oslo before finally settling near the town of his birth. "Peer Gynt"(1875) was written as incidental music to Henrik Ibsen's play. Originally consisting of 23 pieces, Grieg rearranged them into two suites each containing four pieces. In "Morning", Peer Gynt awakes in an Arabian desert to a beautiful sunrise.
Prelude - A Spring Song - G.Holst (1874-1934)
Postlude - Voluntary No 1 - W.Boyce (1710-1779)
Prelude - Dirge For Fidele - R.Vaughan Williams
Postlude - Voluntary No 2 - W.Boyce
Prelude - Morning ("Peer Gynt") - E.Grieg (1843-1907)
Postlude - Fantasia in C minor - J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude - The Londonderry Air - Trad, arr H.Geehl (1881-1961)
Postlude - Grand March from "Aida" - G.Verdi
Prelude - Andante - A.Scriabin (1872-1914)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue on a theme of Vittoria - B.Britten (1913-1976)
FROM THE CONSOLE - MAY 2003
Peterhouse is the oldest of the 31 Cambridge colleges and was founded in 1284 by Hugo De Balsham, Bishop of Ely. The main court which houses the Chapel and Hall is known as Old Court and dates back to the 13th Century. The chapel itself dates from the 17th Century and is a hybrid of Gothic and Renaisance styles. The organ was built in 1765 by the famous German organ builder John Snetzler, although it has been extensively rebuilt twice (in 1895 and 1963). The instrument has three manuals (like St Edmund's) and 33 speaking stops (St Edmund's has 37). I was at Peterhouse for three years where I read music and was also organ scholar. A Real Audio clip of me performing Mulet's "Carillon-Sortie" in 1984 on the Peterhouse organ can be found on the organ page of my website. You can find a link in the Choir and Organist section of the St Edmund's website (www.saintedmundschurch.org.uk).
Dietrich Buxtehude was born around 1637 and belongs to the generation of organists before the great Johann Sebastian Bach and was a considerable influence on the master. From 1668 until his death on May 9th 1707 he was organist at Lübeck, where he established a famous series of evening concerts that attracted musicians from all over northern Germany. On one occasion J. S. Bach walked about 200 miles to hear these concerts. Buxtehude's many surviving compositions for the organ include some twenty Preludes and Fugues and a larger number of chorale preludes.
Prelude - Prelude on "Ein Kind Geboren In Bethlehem" - Flor Peeters (1903-1986)
Postlude - Canzona in D Minor - J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude - Prelude on "O Jesus Suss" - Flor Peeters
Postlude - Praeludium Pedaliter - Jan Sweelinck (1562-1621)
Prelude - Prelude on "Vater Unser Im Himmelreich" - D.Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Postlude - Fugue in G Minor - Johann Eberlin (1702-1762)
Prelude - Prelude on "Rhosymedre" - R.Vaughan Williams (1872-1958)
Postlude - Prelude on "Hyfrydol" - R.Vaughan Williams
FROM THE CONSOLE - APRIL 2003
The foundations for Winchester Cathedral were laid in 1079 and the first dedication service took place in 1093. It was greatly extended by the Normans and was largely rebuilt during the 14th and 15th Centuries. At the beginning of the 20th Century the East end of the cathedral was in danger of collapsing. Because the cathedral had been built on a marsh the foundations were submerged in water. The job of underpinning the cathedral was given to a diver, William Walker, who took six years to complete the repairs. The cathedral has the remains of several early Kings including Alfred The Great and King Canute as well as novellist Jane Austin and hymn-writer Isaac Walton.
The core of the present cathedral organ was taken from Henry Willis' organ built for the 1851 Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Three years later the cathedral's organist, composer Samuel Sebastian Wesley (John Wesley was his grandfather's brother), arranged for the organ to be installed at Winchester. The organ has be rebuilt four times since, the most recent being in 1988. The instrument has four manuals and 79 speaking stops. I was fortunate to have lessons on the organ during my two years of sixth-form study at the city's Peter Symonds College. Under the tutelage of the then cathedral organist Martin Neary (later to be organist of Westminster Abbey), I obtained my Associate Diploma at the Royal College of Organists and played for several cathedral services.
Olivier Messiaen was arguably the greatest contributor to the organ repertoire since J.S.Bach. He was born in Avignon on 10th December 1908 and studied at the Paris Conservatoire, where his teachers included Paul Dukas and Marcel Dupre. At the age of 22 he was appointed organist at La Sainte Trinite, a post that he held until his death. In 1940 he was captured by the Germans and spent nine months as a prisoner of war in Poland. It was here that he wrote his Quartet for the End of Time on manuscript paper smuggled in by a German officer that Messiaen had befriended. The instrumentation (violin, cello, clarinet and piano) was governed by the musician friends that were imprisoned alongside the composer and the quartet was given its first performance in the camp in front of a literally captive audience! He returned from captivity and became a teacher at the Paris Conservatoire and many famous musicians passed through his hands including Pierre Boulez and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Messiaen has attributed his musical style to such diverse influences as his Catholic faith, love and birdsong. His most famous organ works are probably the cycles L'Ascension (1933) and La Nativite Du Seigneur (1935). Messiaen died on April 27th 1992.
Mar 30th - Mothering Sunday
Prelude - Nun Sei Willkommen Jesus Lieber Herr - Flor Peeters (1903-1986)
Postlude - Ciacona in D Minor - J.Pachelbel (1653-1707)
Apr 6th - Passion Sunday
Prelude - Majestie Du Christ Demandant Sa Gloire A Son Pere (L'Ascension) - O.Messiaen (1908-1992)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue in D Minor - D.Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Apr 20th - Easter Sunday
Prelude - A Resurrection Prelude - James Patten (b.1936)
Postlude - Christ Ist Erstanden BWV 627 - J.S.Bach
FROM THE CONSOLE - MARCH 2003
This month I am beginning a series of features on churches and collegiate institutions I have been involved with. Work on Christchurch Priory began in 1094 although there had been a church on the site since the 7th Century. During building work in the 12th Century it is said that a a mysterious carpenter assisted the work. One evening a wooden beam was found to be too short, but the next morning the workmen found to their amazement that it had grown to the proper length overnight. This is known as the Miraculous Beam and can still be seen in the church today. This event led to the town's name being changed from Twynham to Christchurch. My involvement with the Priory began in 1971 when I joined my late father in the choir. I began to learn the organ there a few years later with the then organist, Geoffrey Tristram. During the 1980s I held the positions of Organ Scholar and Assistant Organist. The present Nicholson organ was built in 1999 and replaced the electronic instrument in use since 1973. I was fortunate to be one of the first to perform on the instrument when I played for my brother's wedding.
Sir William Walton was born in the Lancashire town of Olham on March 29th 1902. He was firstly chorister and later undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford - although he never completed his degree. It was at Oxford that he made acquaintance with the influential Sitwell family who were to support him both morally and financially. He collaborated with Edith and Osbert Sitwell in the musical entertainment "Facade" (1922) and the oratorio "Belshazzar's Feast" (1931) respectively. He wrote the march "Crown Imperial" for the coronation of George VI (although intended for that of Edward VIII) and "Orb and Sceptre" for the coronation of Elizabeth II. During the years of the Second World War Walton wrote scores for several films, including "First of The Few" (1942) and "Henry V" (1944). He was knighted in 1951 and died on the Italian island of Ischia - his home since 1948 - on March 8th 1983.
Prelude - Two movements from "Henry V" - W.Walton (1902-1983)
Postlude - Spitfire Prelude ("First of the Few") - W.Walton
Prelude - Pavane - G.Faure (1845-1924)
Postlude - Fugue No.1 on BACH - R.Schumann (1810-1856)
Prelude - Chanson de Nuit - E.Elgar (1857-1934)
Postlude - Fantasia in C minor BWV 562 - J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Maria Theresia von Paradis was born in on May 15th 1759 and died on February 1st 1824. She was a composer, singer, pianist and organist who was blind for most of her life. She established a music school for girls and was also instrumental in establishing devices used by the blind to score music. Her compositions included operas, cantatas, piano concertos, sonatas and songs. She studied with Antonio Salieri and Mozart wrote a piano concerto for her. Her most famous composition is the beautiful Sicilienne and like the Albinoni Adagio featured in last month's column is of slightly dubious authenticity. The piece was 'discovered' by Samuel Dushkin and several scholars believe him to have actually written the piece. My brother and I performed this piece at my marriage blessing service in France and you can hear a recording of us playing the work on my website (or click here). You can find a link in the Choir and Organist section of the St Edmund's website (www.saintedmundschurch.org.uk). Do e-mail me for further information.
This month I am also completing the cycle of the eight short preludes and fugues by J.S.Bach began in January.
Prelude - Sicilienne - Maria Theresia von Paradis (1759-1824)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 5 (BWV 557) - J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude - Chorale Prelude on "Stuttgart" - Flor Peeters (1903-1986)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 6 (BWV 558) - J.S.Bach
Prelude - Legende - Louis Vierne (1870-1937)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 7 (BWV 559) - J.S.Bach
Prelude - Arabesque - Louis Vierne
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 8 (BWV 560) - J.S.Bach
FROM THE CONSOLE - JANUARY 2003
Albinoni's Adagio in G Minor was not actually written by Albinoni but by a twentieth century Italian musicologist. Intrigued? Read on:
Tomaso Albinoni was born in Venice in 1671. As well as being a composer, he was a fine violinist and singer who possibly ran the Venetian academy of singing. Due to his status as the eldest son he should have assumed responsibility for the family business of card making and stationary production but his father's will relieved him of this role, leaving him free to concentrate on his music. He died on January 17th 1751, just six months after the great Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Adagio is based on a fragment of manuscript found in Dresden State Library. This surviving scrap of music consists of just the bass line and six bars of melody from the slow movement of a trio sonata. Remo Giazotto, a Milanese musicologist preparing a biography of Albinoni, liked it so much he reconstructed the piece in 1945. It is ironic that Albinoni's most popular compostion would be barely recognisable by the composer. As Fritz Spiegl put it in his book "Music Through The Looking Glass":
The Adagio of Albinoni
Is largely phoney
And is a musical risotto
Cooked up by Giazotto.'
Incidentally, Albinoni's Adagio was a favourite of Jim Morrison and his group, The Doors, made a recording of the piece. Morrison is buried in the Cimetiere du Pere-Lachaise in Paris. This fascinating cemetary is well worth visiting and othe rmusicians buried here include Georges Bizet, Frederick Chopin and Edith Piaf.
My postludes for January and February are Bach's "Eight Short Preludes and Fugues". It is thought unlikely that Bach actually wrote these fine miniatures and they may well have been written by one of his pupils, Johann Ludwig Krebs (1713-1780).
More information including internet links and audio clips related to the composers of the month can be found on my website. You can find a link to my website in the Choir & organist section of the St Edmund's website (www.saintedmundschurch.co.uk).
Prelude - Lullay, Thou Little Tiny Child - C.Armstrong Gibbs (1889-1960)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 1 (BWV 553) - J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude - Andante Con Moto (Six Organ Pieces) - F.Bridge (1879-1941)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 2 (BWV 554) - J.S.Bach
Prelude - Adagio in G Minor - Albinoni, arr.Giazotto
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 3 (BWV 555) - J.S.Bach
Prelude - Adagio For Strings - S.Barber (1910-1981)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue No 4 (BWV 556) - J.S.Bach
FROM THE CONSOLE - DECEMBER 2002
"In Dulci Jubilo" is one of our best-loved Christmas carols. Legend has it that angels sang the tune to German 14th Century mystic Heinrich Suso. Whatever its origins it quickly became popular and appeared in several hymnbooks. One such was the 1582 "Piae Cantiones" ("Devout ecclesiastical and scholastic songs of the old bishops"). This Finnish collection of mediaeval Latin songs is the original source of such well-known Christmas carols as "Unto Us A Boy Is Born", "Of The Father's Love Begotten" and "Good King Wenceslas". The Rev.John Mason Neale (1818-1866) discovered this forgotten collection in 1853 and made the English translations of many of these carols so familiar to us today. John Neale also co-founded the Sisterhood of St Margaret, an organisation dedicated to nursing the sick. Incidentally, the school where I work is also named after this 11th Century Scottish Queen. "In Dulci Jubilo" is probably best known in the choral arrangement by Robert Pearsall and the organ chorale prelude by J.S.Bach. The latter (one of at least three arrangements by the great composer) is always played at the end of the Christmas Eve carol service at King's College, Cambridge and I shall be playing it on several occasions over the Christmas period. The carol was also arranged by Mike Oldfield in a pop record that reached No 4 in the UK Singles Chart in 1975.
My preludes for the Four Sundays in Advent are all taken from the Advent section of J.S.Bach's "Orgelbuchlein" ("Little Organ Book"). This is a collection of 46 chorale preludes for the liturgical year designed as a teaching manual. Bach had planned to write 164 chorale preludes but never managed to complete the task. Most of the pieces (indeed, most of his organ music generally) date from his years (1708-1717) as Court Organist to Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar.
The "From The console" page on my website contains Real Audio clips of several pieces mentioned in my columns. Follow the link to my website from the Choir & organist section of the St Edmund's website (www.saintedmundschurch.org.uk).
Prelude - Gottes Sohn Ist Kommen (BWV 600) - J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Postlude - Toccata - E.Gigout (1844-1925)
Prelude - Nun Komm' Der Heiden Heiland (BWV 599) - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Sonata No 1 (1st Movement) - J.S.Bach
Prelude - Herr Gott, Der Ein'ge Gottes-Sohn (BWV 601) - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Sontata No 2 (1st Movement) - J.S.Bach
Dec 22nd (10am)
Prelude - Lob Sei Dem Allmachtigen Gott (BWV 602) - J.S.Bach
Postlude - Vom Himmel Hoch, Da Komm' Ich Her - J.Pachelbel (1653-1707)
Dec 22nd (6.30pm)
Prelude - Eight Preludes on Carol Melodies by Denizot - A.Boely (1785-1858)
Postludes - In Dulci Jubilo - J.S.Bach & Carillon Sortie - Henri Mulet (1878-1967)
Dec 24th (11.30pm)
Prelude - From "Six Interludes on Christmas Carols" - W.Lloyd-Webber (1914-1982)
Postlude - Toccata - Charles Widor (1844-1937)
Prelude - In Dulci jubilo - D.Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Postlude - In Dulci Jubilo - J.S.Bach
Prelude - In Dulci Jubilo - Gwilym Beechy
Postlude - Overture ("Messiah") - G.F.Handel (1685-1759), arr Coleman
May I take this opportunity to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
FROM THE CONSOLE - NOVEMBER 2002
Last month I talked about St Dunstan's, Stepney being the first home of the present St Edmund's organ. Around 1970 it was dismantled and acquired by a retired BBC Chief Engineer who rebuilt it and housed it in a barn at a farm in Horsham especially rented for the purpose. It remained there for over ten years until his death.
The Welsh composer William Mathias was born on All Saints Day in 1934. After obtaining a first-class degree at Aberystwyth he went on to study at the Royal Academy of Music with Sir Lennox Berkeley. As well as being a composer he was also for many years Head of Music at the University College of North Wales in Bangor. His anthem "Let The People Praise Thee O God" was specially written for the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales in 1981 and St Edmund's Choir have performed several of his Christmas Carols in recent years including "Sir Christemas" and "Lift Up Ye Heads, O Ye Gates". He wrote many works for the organ including an organ concerto. The Processional was written in 1964 and has been described as a being in a quirky, popular march style.
Prelude - Pastorale - J.Lubbock
Postlude - Processional - William Mathias (1934-1992)
Prelude - Nimrod - Edward Elgar (1857-1934)
Postlude - Fame and glory - Albert Matt
Prelude - Adagio (Symphony No 3) - C.Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
Postlude - Prelude and Fugue in D Major - D.Buxtehude (1637-1707)
Prelude - Le Banquet Celeste - Olivier Messiaen (1908-1992)
Postlude - Now Thank We All Our God - Sigfrid Karg-Elert (1877-1933)
More information including internet links and audio clips related to the composers of the month can be found on my website. You can find a link to my website in the Choir & organist section of the St Edmund's website (www.saintedmundschurch.org.uk).
FROM THE CONSOLE - OCTOBER 2002
The organ at St Edmund's has a very interesting history as you will find out over the next few months. The organ was originally built by Norman and Beard and installed in 1902 in St Dunstan's Church on Stepney High Street in the East end of London. This instrument replaced one destroyed by fire the year before. The church itself is a Grade 1 listed building dating from the 14th-15th Century.
Herbert Howells (pictured above) was born in Gloucestershire on October 17th 1892. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music with Charles Stanford and Charles Wood and was regarded as the best of his generation of composers. The two pieces I am featuring on the Sunday nearest his birthday are both taken from the "Six Organ Pieces" and date from 1940. On that day we shall also be singing his famous hymn tune "Michael" to Robert Bridge's words "All My Hope On God Is Founded". It is named after his only son who died from meningitis at the age of nine. This event devastated Howells and it is said that every year for the remainder of his life he marked the date on his calendar.
Prelude - Concerto No 2 in A Minor (BWV 593) - Second Movement: J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Postlude - Concerto No 2 in A Minor (BWV 593) - First Movement: J.S.Bach (1685-1750)
Prelude - Prière à Notre-Dame (Suite Gothique): Léon Boëllman (1862-1897)
Postlude - Toccata (Suite Gothique): Léon Boëllman (1862-1897)
Prelude - Master Tallis' Testament: Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Postlude - Paean: Herbert Howells (1892-1983)
Prelude - Sonata No 2 - Second Movement: Paul Hindemith (1985-1963)
Postlude - Sonata No 2 - First Movement: Paul Hindemith (1985-1963)
My brother and I are busy finalising the programme for our Trumpet and Organ recital which will take place at Saint Edmund's on Saturday December 14th. Do get in touch if you would like further details.
FROM THE CONSOLE - SEPTEMBER 2002
Welcome to my new column where I shall be listing my organ voluntaries for the coming month and featuring one work by a composer whose anniversary of birth or death occurs during that month.
Johann Pachelbel (pictured above) was born on September 1st 1653. In 1677 he was appointed church organist in Eisenach, the German town where Johann Sebastian Bach was born eight years later. Pachelbel went on to hold posts in Erfurt, Stuttgart and Nuremburg. During his time at Erfurt he taught J.S.Bach's older brother Johann Christoph. Indeed, Pachelbel was one of Johann Sebastian's early influences as a composer.
The famous canon was originally composed for three violins, cello and harpsichord. It consists of an eight-note bass line which repeats twenty-eight times. Above this the three violins enter one at a time with the same tune in canon (a canon is another name for a round, such as Frere Jacques or London's Burning). The bass line and chord sequence has been imitated by many classical and non-classical composers. One such example is Go West by the Pet Shop Boys which has also found its way onto the football terraces in several popular chants!
Prelude - Canon and Gigue in D: Johann Pachelbel (1653-1707)
Postlude - Sortie in E Flat - Lefébure-Wély (1817-1870)