Are We All Hiding Under A Bushel?

Where Have All the Organists Gone?

Most of us have heard that it is becoming harder to find organists. If a church or temple offers very little in salary and benefits, that is surely a guarantee that this will continue. I talked with a new barber today, and he said he went to a large church in a nearby town. He said that their room held 1500 and he always felt positive and uplifting upon leaving a service. I asked about an organ and an organist. He said that they had “an orchestra.” I asked about the denomination and it was Assemblies of God. So, they had what we all call a “Praise Band.” I asked about an electronic organ or perhaps a Hammond. He said they just had keyboards. But, he added that they had many drums and multiple percussionists. So, is this what church has in store in the future? These kind of groups have no use for an organist. Who knows if any of the instrumentalists are paid.

Anyway, this article is from the Baptist Press blog. I graduated from Mars Hill College, so I am familiar with Southern Baptists. Read it and see what you think.

Has playing the organ become a dying art? What has happened to the organists — the ones who read three staffs of music, dance on the pedals, maneuver multiple manuals, pull organ stops, push pistons, manipulate swell and crescendo pedals and follow a director — all at the same time? Is there no one else to sit on the bench where “Aunt Sally” sat for 40 years?

 

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Recording of Ellsasser’s “Toward Evening” Added

Recording of Ellsasser’s “Toward Evening” Added

Those who read the blog and my announcements know that I have completed restoration of all three of “Compositions for Organ” by Richard Ellsasser. I am pleased to share a recording of Number Two, “Toward Evening,” by David Christensen. He has made a beautiful video to go along with this relaxing music. For those who know Ellsasser for a completely different — shall we say — style, this piece shows the depth of the incredible talent that died with him at age of only 46.

Ellsasser.2.TowardEvening.html

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Ellsasser III, Walmisley’s Larghetto, Military Scene by AGO Founder, and Dello Joio’s Neopolitan Night

For April’s pieces, I have chosen some shorter pieces which together are priced at only $24 plus shipping. I think they are quality music, just short. Please read below to see what is interesting to you.

ORGAN SHEET MUSIC

1. PEACEFUL WATERS by Richard Ellsasser. This programmatic gem for soft strings and flutes is the last of the three published by R D Row in Boston.
Ellsasser.3.PeacefulWaters.html

2. LARGHETTO, by Thomas Attwood Walmisley. I have included much information on the short life of this talented organist on the page with this music. He was organist at St John’s and Trinity Colleges in Cambridge at the age of 19! He had a Sunday schedule that consisted of eight services (four morning, two afternoon and one evening) in four locations in Cambridge. Learn more about him and see his short and beautiful Larghetto at:
Walmisley.Larghetto.html

3. SCÈNE MILITAIRE by Herve Wilkins. You may know the name because he a Founder of the AGO, but he wrote this piece in 1888, eight years before the AGO began. (http://michaelsmusicservice.com/agofounders.html) This programmatic scene depicts an army of the 19th century with its firmness and assurance — plenty of trumpet calls and drum sounds in the pedal!
Wilkins.SceneMilitaire.html

4. NOTTURNO NAPOLETANO, by Casimiro Dello Joio. I’m sure many of you know the name of Norman Dello Joio; this was his father. He emigrated from Italy to New York City and Norman was born there. Casimiro wrote a lot of music, but this is his only organ piece. It depicts the memory of a night in Naples, and he dedicated it to Robert Elmore.
DelloJoio.NotturnoNapoletano.html

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.
MonthlyBundles/201804.html

Thank you all for sharing your interest in this music by playing it. I have received no recordings for these, and I would to get yours to share with our audience.

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New Poll on Difficult Organ Music

New Poll on Difficult Organ Music

I have installed a new poll on the most difficult organ music you’ve ever played. I put in pieces that I consider among the most difficult, but you can add your suggestions below in the comments. Remember, this poll concerns the most difficult piece you have ever played, not the most difficult in the repertoire.

You’ll find the poll on the right side of this page or at the right side of the blog home page: Blog Home Page

Here’s a link to a post I made on January 2014 on hard music:

The World’s Hardest (videos)

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Twenty Vital Points in Organ Study

Twenty Vital Points in Organ Study

Ralph Kinder, The Etude, May 1928

Many of these points are as valid today as they were in 1928. What do you think? I especially like “II. Slow Practice.” You can learn a lot by going through passages slowly.

In the box beside his photo, there is this: “He later had instruction from Hamilton Macdougall, and then went to London for a year of organ with Edwin H. Lemare and theory under Drs. Pearce and Turpin. Mr. Kinder has appeared as concert organist in almost all the States.” Wow!

Read the entire article in this PDF

Etude, May 1928

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Brilliant Youthful Composer in Love

Brilliant Youthful Composer in Love Only with Pipe Organ

This article from the Detroit Free Press is about one of our favorite American organists, Robert Elmore. It’s from 1938, and I’ll give you a sample to entice you to read the full article. I want to thank Linda Brown for contributing this for the blog so we can share it with friends; take that as your hint to send it to anyone not familiar with Elmore.

“My mother sat next to Mrs. Newberry at a luncheon, and, as mothers will, poured for the story of her gorgeous little boy. Mrs. Newberry took her seriously, and provided the funds for the two trips a week from Philadelphia to New York, where I trained under Pietro Yon. I wouldn’t have had much of a chance if it hadn’t been for Mrs. Newberry.”

Here are links to the Elmore pieces I’ve restored thus far:

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Johnny Purty Dead at Age 57

Church Organ Falls Silent

Read about the surprising death of a beloved organist in Calcutta, India. Read this article for details about Johnny’s recent fatal heart attack. For those who don’t know this organ: “The pipe organ at St John’s Church on Council House Street was installed in the early nineteenth century and remains the grandest in Calcutta.” At the bottom of this post is a link from Johnny’s Youtube Channel. Try to listen through the tuning problems and imagine how much of a challenge Johnny faced in Calcutta, now spelled in some places as Kolcata in the same fashion as Bombay is written now as Mumbai. If anyone has the specification and history of the organ, please post a comment below!

Johnny had been an unmissable presence during Sunday prayers at the church for years, his back to the congregation but his music always upfront in its purpose. On Fridays and Saturdays, he would play almost all day. Over the years, he became as famous as the grand instrument he played.

Noel Ronnie Purty, Johnny’s brother, told Metro on Thursday that his sibling inherited his love of the organ from their father, who had also played the instrument in a church. An alumnus of Assembly of God Church School and St Xavier’s College, Johnny was wedded to music and so remained a bachelor in life. “He had a cardiac arrest around 3.45pm. A doctor was called and he pronounced Johnny dead,” Noel said.

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I Ended Up Ordering More

“Thanks for the update.  John was so helpful when I called to order and I ended up ordering more than I had intended to order. Best wishes.” —Florida, USA

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Hollins and His Spring Song: A True Story

Hollins and His Spring Song: A True Story

The first journal called The American Organist began in 1918, and one of the contributors was named Latham True. He wrote a review (a real review and not just a quick paragraph) of “Spring Song” by Alfred Hollins. I hope you enjoy it.

The American Organist, Vol 1, No 6, June 1918

Here is a list of Spring Songs and close matches that I have restored:

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Hollins Spring Song, Yon Minuet, Ellsasser Evening, Bossi Etude

This year, I oddly do not have a march to announce for March. 🙂 Look for the second of three by Richard Ellsasser, another of Yon’s Divertimenti, another Spring Song to complement last month’s by Faulkes, and a crowd favorite by Bossi. I have included recordings where possible.

ORGAN SHEET MUSIC

1. SPRING SONG by Alfred Hollins. Last month, I told you that Mendelssohn was the first to use the title of “Frühlingslied” or “Spring Song” in his Op 62 No 6 of “Songs without Words.” There are dozens of these by many composers. One customer told me that he thought the Hollins Spring Song was the only one worth playing. Well, here ’tis!
Hollins.SpringSong.html

2. MINUETTO ANTICO E MUSETTA, by Pietro Yon. An old minuet and bagpipe dance is really original music by Yon. The “Musette” is something he knew in his youth in northern Italy.
Yon.MinuettoAnticoEMusetta.html

3. TOWARD EVENING by Richard Ellsasser. After last month’s grotesque Marche Fantastique, Ellsasser’s Toward Evening is a real change of pace. The playful theme was suggested by a friend, and Ellsasser depicts a playful character at twilight as evening comes on. You can use your soft stops with tremulant; there is a brief call for chimes.
Ellsasser.2.TowardEvening.html

4. ETUDE SYMPHONIQUE, by Enrico Bossi. Of his more than 80 organ pieces, this one seems to be played the most. It sounds harder than it is, I think. I offer three recordings for you to sample different organs, organists and their approaches.
Bossi.EtudeSymphonique.html

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.
MonthlyBundles/201803.html

Thank you all for sharing your interest in this music by playing it and posting your recordings online.

Cheers!
Michael

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