These Are A Few of My Favorite Things (Pieces)

My two latest purchases from Michael’s Music Service arrived yesterday and I am always very pleased with both, Sowerby Requiescat in Pace and Sellars Overture Fantastique. Last month it was the Barnes Fugue in G minor. I have been buying music from Michael for many years now including one of his own compositions and have never been disappointed. Music that stands out include Gastyne Cantique de Joie and at the other end of the musical scale Billy Nalle’s delicious Trio on Alles was du bist. My first purchase was Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue as arranged by Jesse Crawford. Thanks to Michael and John Apple for doing a great and very necessary job. —United Kingdom

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“Is It Hard to Learn Five Keyboards?” (audio)

New City Hall Organ Tours Announced

Join Loretta Ryan of ABC in Brisbane for this fun radio interview with their local Father Willis. What a fine piece for the general media!

“If you like nothing better than a little bit of organ music then this’ll prick your ears. Brisbane is going to have organ tours – and the organ you’ll see isn’t just your run of the mill keyboard. It’s over one hundred years old and has pipes as high as 13 metres.”

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The Troxy’s New Wurlitzer (video)

A Great and Mighty Wurlitzer

“The Troxy’s new Mighty Wurlitzer (popularly known as ‘the one man orchestra’) is the largest of its kind ever imported to Europe. A former resident of the Trocodero in Elephant and Castle, it was saved from demolishment in 1960 by the Cinema Organ Society (COS) and has been resident at London’s Southbank Centre ever since. The Troxy’s own organ did not have such a happy fate: it was broken up for parts in the 1960s, when cinema organs had well and truly fallen from fashion.”

See a video from 2013 narrating the story on the article page or below.

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Organ and Labyrinth: What A Combination

Trinity Episcopal’s ‘Organ & Labyrinth’ Series to Conclude

Here is another unusual idea for those who wish to start a series of organ music. Install a labyrinth inside your church and play during the time that it’s open to pilgrims. Walking the labyrinth in a local church is considerably easier than making the journey to the United Kingdom, and besides, it doesn’t even matter if it’s raining!

“Nearly every Tuesday evening since May 2006, Trinity Episcopal Church’s longtime music director and organist Albinas Prizgintas has presided over “Organ & Labyrinth” sessions at the historic church on Jackson Avenue. For an hour, he plays an assortment of classical music, popular songs and improvisations on the church’s massive pipe organ as people walk a candle-lit labyrinth laid out on a canvas inside the sanctuary, or simply sit and listen.”

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Organ Scholars Come to Duke

Duke Chapel Begins New Organ Scholars Program

In the words of every advertising copy writer, “Finally!” This is fantastic news, and it’s a fine time to begin practicing this long overdue tradition, in that it comes in the interim of the organs being unavailable. What a reawakening they’ll have!

Duke Chapel has begun a new Organ Scholars program that will train organ students in sacred music. The two-year program includes instruction for two students on playing during church services and choral accompaniment. The chapel is launching the program along with a new weekly worship service, Choral Evensong, which will take place at 4 p.m. Sundays in the Divinity School’s Goodson Chapel. The two organ scholars will play at the Evensong service and be joined by the Evensong Singers, a new auditioned choir at Duke Chapel.

Chapel organist Christopher Jacobson will oversee the instruction of the scholars and conduct the choir during the Evensong services. “In adopting this proven model of training organists, the chapel is not only contributing to the future of sacred music in America,” Jacobson said, “but it is also joining in the great tradition of cathedrals and chapels around the world offering daily prayer and praise to God.”

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More Pipes for Spreckels

Spreckels Organ Getting New Pipes to Stay Biggest

Read about the new pipes and effects added to the great organ in Balboa Park. Perhaps we are entering a new “Space Race.” :)

Society executive director Ross Porter said the additional pipes will bring the total in the Spreckels to 5,005 and again make it the largest outdoor pipe organ in the world. The current title holder is the “Heroes Organ” in Kufstein, Austria, built in 1931 to honor the dead from World War I. It has 4,948 pipes.

“We were the first outdoor organ and the largest until Kufstein took it away from us maybe 10 years ago,” Porter said. “To be the largest is part of our brand, and more important, to be able to add voices and make the organ better is part of this generation’s legacy.”

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1917 Casavant Saved from Scrap Heap

Milton Pipe Organ Finds New Home in Historic Village

Read about this success story of an organ moved to another location where it can appreciated for generations. It’s a 1917 Casavant. Bravo, Sherbrooke Village and everyone involved!

The pipe organ which used to play in Milton Church of Christ has been saved from the scrap heap and is ready to play beautiful music again in its new home in Sherbrooke Village. Members of the congregation of Milton Church of Christ can still hear their traditional pipe organ play in all its glory at its new home in the Historic Sherbrooke Village, in Guysborough County.

The 150-year-old Milton church is being dismantled to be moved to a smaller location, and one of the things that couldn’t go was an historic Casavant pipe organ, built in 1917. Members were afraid the organ, built by the famous Casavant family from St.-Hyacinth Quebec, would end up in the scrap heap.

I first posted about it back in June: 1917 Casavant Avoids Landfill (Whew!)

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New Interest in Albert Ribollet


Albert Gilbert Ribollet (1884-1963)

First, you should know that life’s difficulties do not always result in the end of dreams and desires. We know of pianists with only the use of one hand, for example. This is a story of a brave soldier who was robbed of the use of one of his legs, and he was an organist. For years, I have offered the “Douze Pièces pour Orgue” (1921) by him because I think he wrote excellent music. You may wonder what prompted me to write this post now since I have offered Ribollet’s music since 2009. I got a call from a university professor of music who was doing research on Vierne’s 24 Pieces, and he found that one of them was dedicated to Ribollet. Guess who was happy to obblige! Ribollet’s life story makes a fine accompaniment to his music.


Albert Ribollet entered in 1900 the Conservatoire in Paris. For ten years, he studied with the great teachers of the day: the organ with Ch.-M. Widor, L. Vierne and A. Guilmant, and composition with Gédalge and Xavier Leroux. In 1906 he was awarded a First Prize in Harmony and in 1908 a First Prize in Counterpoint. He started as organist of Notre-Dame-de-Passy and at the same time assumed the function of Maître de Chapelle at Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire. He was appointed in 1913 organist at the Casino municipal in Nice, then a short time later organist of the Cathedral Sainte-Réparate in Nice.

Mobilized in 1914, he was woounded and had to have his right leg amputated. After long months of rehabilitation, he resumed his post as organist of the Cathedral. In 1948, he was appointed Director of the Conservatoire de Musique in Nice, where he remained in office until 1962, the date on which Pierre Cochereau succeded him.

He was both a prestigious improviser and a prolific composer: Symphonies, Symphonic poems, an Opéra-Comique, chamber music, Pieces for piano, Vocal music including choral a cappella, Pieces for organ, organ and orchestra, Masses for choir and organ, etc. These works were for the most part written in Nice and the greater part of which remain unpublished to this day.

This newspaper clipping describes his wound from February 16, 1915.

You can read some of his letters on this page from Here it is in English.

You may not know that Ribollet has a street named after him. On November 5, 1999, the city council of Nice named a street in his honor.

This is his collection of Twelve Pieces from 1921 published by Leduc.


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Juilliard Organist and Composer Biography and Photos

Gaston Dethier: Not Just for Christmas

I suspect that you, like me, first heard of Gaston Dethier from hearing Virgil Fox play his “Christmas.” Because it is so easily available from free download sites, I chose to restore another of his pieces that is just as charming. Planning this blog post came to mind because I had to reprint his “Caprice” last week, and that makes me very happy! So, I have posted a short biography of him from 1919 (before he taught at Juilliard) and two photos.

Here is the description of “Caprice — The Brook” from The Aeolian Pipe-Organ and Its Music, 1919:

Beginning with a purling, restive figure, which the composer indubitably intended to depict the rushing movement of the brook as it goes babbling on its course. Contrary to the usual tonal figures employed by composers to represent the melodious course of a brook, the device of the present composition is one of originality and charm, the occasional introduction of a chromatic run indicating the leaping and falling of waters over a rocky ledge. Almost at the outset a pretty theme develops and then, against the “brook” motif, used as an accompaniment, the song of birds is heard, invoking the mood of the woods.

The next incident is a love song, heard over the music of the brook’s waters, and finally there is a climax combining the use of the Aeolian Chimes, the singing of birds and the love theme. With this incident the caprice goes brilliantly to its close, ending in a precipitate chromatic run that is tremendously effective.

View the full information on the Biographies page.

And, if there is sufficient interest, later on I’ll restore Dethier’s “Christmas,” the entire piece and not just the excerpt played by Virgil.

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Handel and the Roots of Telecommunications

Handel and the Roots of Telecommunications

As I was watching some science and math programs on Youtube, I came across Professor Dan Fleisch and his video from 2006 announcing a new course about the beginnings of telecommunications. Imagine my surprise to see it begin with Handel! I think you’ll agree that he chose an excellent piece for his video.

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