William Gudger plays “Wet Music for Hurricane Season”

William Gudger plays “Wet Music for Hurricane Season”

A notice of this interesting program scheduled for next Tuesday came to me by email, and I thought I’d pass it on. Those of us with memories of Hugo are connected with its terrible damage to Charleston and shortly afterwards to Charlotte. This concert title is just perfect!

The first recital of the fall season is at St Luke’s Chapel, Ashley at Bee Streets, the Medical College of the University of South Carolina. Tuesday, September 20, at 12:15-12:45.

William Gudger plays “Wet Music for Hurricane Season”

Handel, Water Music Suite No 1 (arr by Geminiani et al)
Percy Fletcher, Fountain Reverie
Lefébure-Wély, Pastorale (with thunder, storm, etc)

The Margaret Metcalf Organ, built by Gene Bedient & Co

My contributor knew I couldn’t resist storm music!
A Popular Thunderstorm (from August 21)

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A Little Bit of Christmas

It always feels like a little bit of Christmas when your music package arrives. —Florida, USA

Ho! Ho! Ho! —Michael

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Elgar’s Sursum, Sellars Cantilene, Macfarlane’s Joyful Song, Mendelssohn’s Nocturne, and Crawford’s Intermediate

It’s September and that might be “Back to School” time for you, but for me it’s time for two transcriptions and two original organ compositions. In addition to the four pieces, I am announcing the restoration of the third of Jesse Crawford’s Organ Method Books.

1. SURSUM CORDA, by Edward Elgar, transcribed by Edwin H Lemare. In 1894, he wrote this grand solemn Elevation for a service which the future King George V was to attend. In 1901, it was published, and Lemare transcribed the original for solo organ in the same year.

2. CANTILENE RUSTIQUE, by Gatty Sellars. This is one of his that is really hard to find, but it’s just lovely. It sounds to me like a graceful country dance. I think it would be great on any organ, classical or theatre.

3. CHANSON JOYEUSE, by Will C Macfarlane. During the years when Macfarlane was not at the position in Portland, he published this little gem. It’s a joyful song that makes great use of the French Horn and ends with the Unda Maris and Chimes.

4. NOTTURNO FROM “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” by Felix Mendelssohn, arranged by Samuel P Warren. The peaceful Nocturne is played between Acts III and IV while the couples sleep. Why not play it as a quiet moment in an evening concert, calling it simply “Nocturne”? Should you need additional encouragement to play any of Mendelssohn’s incidental music, this year is the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

MONTHLY DISCOUNT BUNDLE. To get the four pieces mentioned above, I offer a special price so you can buy all of the pieces above with one click and save money in the deal. I welcome your support, and if you don’t want to play a particular piece in the group, consider giving it to a student or another organist.

INTERMEDIATE METHOD by Jesse Crawford. His Intermediate Method was “developed for pianists, amateur or professional, who have a reasonable familiarity with piano notation (treble and bass clefs).” If you’ve read through his Beginning Course (which I offer for free), this next-level method may be just the thing.

Thank you for your interest in this music. I need more suggestions of music to restore; write to me, please!


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Music of AGO Founders Still in Print

Music of AGO Founders Still in Print

You might say that this post is all about the music from the Founders which is actually not in print. Each year, I make a request to all publishers of organ music to tell me of any music by Founders which they still keep in print. My AGO Founders page is a collection of all of these pieces and where you can buy them. Using the music from Founders is an excellent way to build a program because there is real variety there.

AGO Founders Page

You may be wondering about the gentleman in the photo above. He is generally credited with the idea for the “Guild of American Organists” (as written below), and then many more were signed on over several months. Smith only wrote one work for organ, and it was never published.

Below is an excerpt from Chapter I of a book that should still be in print but isn’t. It’s from The Story of the American Guild of Organists by Samuel Atkinson Baldwin, Founder and Fellow, H W Gray, 1946. Enjoy this fragment!

A prominent New York musician referred to our organization as “that amazing American Guild of Organists.”

If it is amazing to maintain the highest principles and ideals for fifty years, and to grow from a small group of organists into a national organization of over 6,000 members, with 108 chapters and eleven branch chapters, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, then our organization is an amazing one.

As we approach our fiftieth anniversary it is fitting that the story should be told while there are a few of us left to tell it, for the sake of the many present day members who know little of the early years. It is a story of devotion and self -sacrifice on the part of a long line of men who have given unstintingly of their time and energy to the work of the Guild.

Charles Taylor Ives, one-time treasurer of the Guild, was one of the first to be interested, and he has given us his impressions of the early times, as follows:

Gerrit Smith was the real founder of the American Guild of Organists and should always be remembered as such. It was he who suggested the name. In 1894 Gerrit Smith spent the summer in England and learned a great deal about the Royal College of Organists. He became enthusiastic about forming a similar organization here, and I think I was about the first to whom he outlined his plans. I distinctly remember his inviting me for luncheon at the Murray Hill Hotel, at which time I became equally interested. Another among the very first was Henry G. Hanchett. John Hyatt Brewer also was active at the start. Later Mr. Brewer was responsible for the academic part and fought until the last against admittance except through examinations.

“The meeting at which the Guild was formally organized was held in the choir-room of Gerrit Smith’s church on Madison Avenue, and he was elected warden. He was always a charming presiding officer and no better choice could have been made.

“The original founders numbered 145 and the list was quite successfully made up to include organists from far sections of the country. There are now fewer than twenty of the founders living.

“Although some churches had quartets, there were many fine chorus choirs. Although I do not think that any organist in that period could compare in brilliant playing with most of the younger crowd now, the choirs themselves would compare most favorably, both as to repertoire and performance. Richard Henry Warren at St. Bartholomew’s was outstanding. Gerrit Smith had a vested choir which was an innovation at that time. R. Huntington Woodman had a very fine chorus and a service list somewhat in advance of the average. John Hyatt Brewer, Dudley Buck and Waring Stebbins were outstanding in their choir work.

“After a few years it was decided that the Guild could not have proper growth if it depended on examinations, and so a classification called colleagues was instituted and made possible the present membership of more than 6,000.”

Perhaps I should start a project to collect funds to put this little gem back in print.

You may also be interested in The Examinations and Academic Regalia of the American Guild of Organists by Agnes Armstrong, first published in The American Organist, July 1996.

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Fast Delivery to the UK

“The music arrived in the UK three days after it was posted! Superb print quality and nice weight of paper. So pleased with this service!” —United Kingdom

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New Recording of Forest Vesper

New Recording of Forest Vesper

I have added a new recording by Marko Hakanpää ont the Grönlund organ  in St Michael’s Church, Turku, Finland. See the music and listen to this sensitive performance of this nocturne on this page.

Forest Vesper by Edward F Johnston

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In the Good old Summertime

In the Good Old Summertime

How about some music to celebrate this season? Large sections of our country have been devastated by nature this Summer but still we go on with our concerts and services. A great example of rebounding from adversity is the Atlantic City Convention Hall. The enormous Midmer-Losh organ was badly damaged by the “Great Atlantic Hurricane” of 1944. Work continues to bring the entire organ back to operation.

If you have access to an organ near one of the affected areas, consider giving some of your musical talents to lift their spirits, take their minds off their enormous problems, and give them hope. An organ concert is an effective way to communicate that you care.

In Summer by Charles Stebbins

You might leave out the program poem for this one if you play it in church. Just call it “Summer Prelude.” The poem, as shown on the first page of music, begins “The plaintive piping of God Pan Floats through the shimmering haze.” I offer recordings by John Apple and Steve Schlesing.

Midsummer Caprice by Edward Johnston

This one from 1912 was based on a fragment of a poem by Milton. Edward F Johnston was an advocate for Hope-Jones as a designer and builder. He was one of the first theatre organists and played Wurlitzers in theatres while continuing to play in churches.

To close your program, you might choose something tongue-in-cheek, such as one of the Fred Feibel offerings:

Pop Goes The Weasel by Fred Feibel

or perhaps something grand:

Triumphal March from Aida by Verdi-Lemare

Headline photo from papergreat.com.

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A Popular Thunderstorm

A Popular Thunderstorm

From The Folio, December 1884. Notice that T P Ryder played “The Thunderstorm” in concert five hundred times before it was published in 1880. Wow!

Read more about this brilliant concert piece on my page of the restoration. For us here in North and South Carolina, this Summer has proved a hotbed of thunderstorms in reality. Ryder’s depiction is the first storm piece for organ published in the USA. Audiences prefer the organ depiction, I believe.


Be sure to listen to David Craighead’s recording on the Mechanic’s Hall organ while you’re on that page.

Also, for your storm making pleasure, I offer these:

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Holberg Suite on Pipedreams


Holberg Suite on Pipedreams

I was delighted to hear Michael Barone speak of the impact of Richard Ellsasser’s recording of his transcription on a Baldwin. You may not like the sound, but the dry studio recording shows absolutely every technical error and thereby illustrates Ellsasser’s incredible technique. I, too, was fascinated years ago by this MGM LP record. The recording chosen for Pipedreams is by Robert Bennesh on the Woolsey Hall organ.

The link to “The Suite Spot,” Episode 1633 of Pipedreams, is

My restoration of Ellsasser’s transcription is available at

On my page, I offer the original edition of the piano score. You may enjoy comparing it with Ellsasser’s transcription.

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Kimball in Worcester Auditorium to Be Used Again (video)

Worcester Auditorium Roars Back to Life to Sound of Organ

Read the current story of this “7,500-pipe Kimball Organ, which has recently been refurbished for performances later this year.” Its maintenance has been infrequent and the full cost to bring it back fully is monstrous. This is the story of its present situation which is a real positive step.

The organ was presented to the Worcester Auditorium in 1933. According to Sherwood, the organ sounds relatively the same now as it did then, the only difference is that some of the bellows that regulate air through the pipes have been touched up.

“The organ has been relatively unaltered and untouched, it’s historically just like it was in 1933,” Sherwood said. “We hear it as the designers designed it originally, so just like the audiences during Great Depression.”

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