He Wrote More than One Sonata, You Know

St Joseph’s 1883 Hook & Hastings and Thayer Sonata III

During the AGO Convention earlier this year in Boston, Massachusetts, this fine old Hook & Hastings was played by Rosalind Mohnsen. She played the Third Sonata of Eugene Thayer. Yes, that’s right — not the famous and oft-played Second, but the Third Sonata. I am grateful to Rosalind for playing one of his other sonatas and the convention audience was, as well. Thayer wrote and published the first four of his five sonatas in Germany. I was very pleased to receive the original covers from the archive of Bote and Bock which is held by Boosey in Berlin.

Joyce Robinson wrote in the The Diapason from November 2014:

Mohnsen ended with W. Eugene Thayer’s Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, featuring a sweet Andante, and a closing set of variations based on “Austrian Hymn,” the final variation containing a formidable pedal cadenza to introduce the tune’s last phrase. This was a full-bodied close to Mohnsen’s ably played and satisfying recital. Visit www.thediapason.com.

To see a PDF of Rosalind’s program, visit agoboston2014.org.

For a history of the church, visit stjosephboston.com/about-the-parish/history.

For details on the organ, visit the OHS Database.

To see and hear the Thayer Sonatas, visit my pages on the restorations:

  1. Sonata I
  2. Sonata II
  3. Sonata III
  4. Sonata IV
  5. Sonata V
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Kevin Graf, Organist and Nielsen Research Analyst

‘King of the Keyboards’ Leads Music for Organ, Brass

Tonight, there is scheduled to be a concert on this III/53 Austin, Opus 1284 (1975), in Morristown United Methodist Church. Kevin, in this article described as “King of the Keyboards,” probably had nothing to do with this silly name. Another bit of this enthusiastic preoccupation with description is seen in how the community choir, Voices of Praise, is described as “Christ-centered.” Is that supposed to help attract listeners? Maybe it’s just part of their brochure?

Abendmusik, the concert series sponsored by Music@MUMC, continues its 2014-2015 30th anniversary season with a concert on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, at 7:30 pm, featuring organist Kevin Graf.

[Kevin] is a member of the Metropolitan chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  Apart from playing the organ and piano, he is also an avid handbell ringer.  He has been a member of the Symphonic Bells of Bloomington, and has toured throughout Germany, Italy and the Czech Republic….

In addition to playing the organ, he also works  for the Nielsen Company as a Market Research Analyst.   His repertoire will include works by Bach, Durufle, Bolcom and Reger.  For additional information about the church’s 53-rank Austin pipe organ, please visit the website at www.morristownumc.com.

There is more information on the organ and its history by James Rooker, a past organist, on the church’s site.

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Designed to Be the Perfect Home for this Organ

Charles Rus Can’t Wait to Play Schroeder Hall

When you see this article, the photo will throw you. It’s just a shot of Rus playing in the Oude Kirk from charlesrus.com, the organist’s small website. Actually, there’s another, more interesting photo on that page of an organ with wooden shoes (really, shoes) — but that’s another story.

Nationally known organist Charles Rus looks forward to playing the 1,248-pipe Schroeder Hall organ in a sold-out concert Nov. 30 at Sonoma State University’s Green Music Center — and with good reason. Rus was one of the expert advisers who chose this particular organ for its present site at the new $9.5 million, 250-seat hall on the Rohnert Park campus.

“I was employed by the university probably 14 years ago to begin looking for an organ. We traveled all over the country. About seven years ago, we went to see this organ, and decided that very day to purchase it,” he said. “It was already a famous instrument. It just sounded fantastic.” Rus has played the rare instrument before, but not in Schroeder Hall, which was designed specifically to make a perfect home for this pipe organ.

You may be forgiven for being confused about where the buildings and organs are. The photo below (click it for the article) may help. It’s from last July, a month before Schroeder Hall opened.

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Pietro Yon’s Son Mario in The New York Times

Military Note at Palm Sunday Service

I was recently surprised and very pleased to receive something I had never seen before, a photo of Mario Charles Yon, Pietro Yon’s son. Rollin Smith, noted organist, historian, and author, sent me this clipping from The New York Times, March 30, 1942. The article is all about the Palm Sunday service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City, but the photo and caption show Cardinal, then Archbishop, Spelman with Mario Yon in uniform.

If you are interested in more detail on the life of Pietro Yon, I offer the biographical novel about his life, The Heavens Heard Him, which was written by Vera Hammann and Mario Yon. It contains a short biography and photos.

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Taft’s Gress-Miles Stays Put

Taft School’s New Pipe Organ Introduced

The Taft School is a boarding school in Western Connecticut, and it is great to see them retain and respect their 1968 Gress-Miles. I wouldn’t call it “historic” yet, but I guess for the purpose of rationalizing the budget it can be historic. Whatever works!

The Taft School held a dedicatory concert celebrating its new organ console at Woodward Chapel Christ Church on Sunday. The organ, built in 1968 by the Gress-Miles Organ Company of Princeton, New Jersey, serves as the church’s main instrument.

“We were looking at replacing the organ but we realized it was a diamond in the rough,” said trustee Paul Parvis. “The organ was in a state of disrepair and needed updates, including switching the electronics dating from the 1960s to more modern computer systems.”

Read about the “re-dedication” on their website.

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Sunset at the Abbey: New Recording

New Recording of Sunset at the Abbey

Earlier this month, Karen Hite Jacob and John Apple played an organ concert on the Zimmer Organ in Belmont Abbey in Belmont, North Carolina. They played several of the pieces I publish (Thank you!), and I am pleased to present them to you over the next five days. If you like what you hear and would like to play it yourself, they are available world-wide from the link above.

Belmont Abbey Basilica

Photo by Carol Gant

Photo by Carol Gant

See the program and organ specification

Two at the Organ: Program and Specification

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Horatio Parker’s Quick March: New Recording

New Recording of Quick March

Earlier this month, Karen Hite Jacob and John Apple played an organ concert on the Zimmer Organ in Belmont Abbey in Belmont, North Carolina. They played several of the pieces I publish (Thank you!), and I am pleased to present them to you over the next five days. If you like what you hear and would like to play it yourself, they are available world-wide from the link above.

Belmont Abbey Basilica

Photo by Carol Gant

Photo by Carol Gant

See the program and organ specification

Two at the Organ: Program and Specification

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Free Organ Music Needs Organists (download)

Fantasia in B Minor by John R Watkinson

I have had many successes in restoring forgotten organ music. This is not one of them. So, I am offering what I received, in exactly the way I received it, to you as a free download in hope that you will like it and play it. Below are the original images in JPG form which you can print, and below that I have added all of the pages together as a PDF which can be viewed and printed.

First, you may wonder about the story of this Fantasia from John R Watkinson. It was written by a respected organist from the early part of the Twentieth Century and published in London by Paxton in 1935. It’s a solid piece of organ music, well written, and perfectly playable in church or in concert. I was contacted by a relative who was sorting and cleaning Watkinson’s possessions and thought perhaps this Fantasia would be of interest to organists today. I said that I thought it would and offered to put it on my list for restoration where I wanted to include a capsule biography and photo.

At this point, I explained that I would need the original to make detailed scans to match the paper size and clean and recreate (restore) all of the printed music and words. Even with my offering to pay the shipping both ways with $500 insurance, I was refused. As you can see from the scans, there is damage to the original, but using my methods I could have restored it on heavy paper suitable for playing on the organ music rack. It seems there was simply too much personal value attached to this original and the fear that it would somehow be damaged or lost to release it to me for even a few days. So, I am offering what I received to you in hopes that a few of you will play it. I hope that someone will record it and share that with us!

His most famous piece, Christmas Prelude On Divinum Mysterium, is still in print, but I have never before seen his Fantasia in B Minor.

Fantasia p1 Fantasia p2Fantasia p3 Fantasia p4 Fantasia p5 Fantasia p6 Fantasia p7

Here is a PDF version of the above pages: Watkinson Fantasia

If you learn this fine piece, I hope you will record it and share with us!

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Reformation Fantasie Duet: New Recording

New Recording of Reformation Fantasie Duet

Earlier this month, Karen Hite Jacob and John Apple played an organ concert on the Zimmer Organ in Belmont Abbey in Belmont, North Carolina. They played several of the pieces I publish (Thank you!), and I am pleased to present them to you over the next five days. If you like what you hear and would like to play it yourself, they are available world-wide from the link above.

Belmont Abbey Basilica

Photo by Carol Gant

Photo by Carol Gant

See the program and organ specification

Two at the Organ: Program and Specification

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Triumphant Procession: New Recording

New Recording of Triumphant Procession

Earlier this month, Karen Hite Jacob and John Apple played an organ concert on the Zimmer Organ in Belmont Abbey in Belmont, North Carolina. They played several of the pieces I publish (Thank you!), and I am pleased to present them to you over the next five days. If you like what you hear and would like to play it yourself, they are available world-wide from the link above.

Belmont Abbey Basilica

Photo by Carol Gant

Photo by Carol Gant

See the program and organ specification

Two at the Organ: Program and Specification

Posted in Church, Concert | Leave a comment