Derry Air, Texas Impressions, Holberg’s Time, and Batiste’s Easter

St Patrick’s Day is fast approaching, and I’ve found an easy piece for you to start March’s selections. There are two suites offered this month, and they contain pieces which may be played alone as well as part of the suite. I hope my choices appeal to you and you find something here you’d like to play.


1. IRISH AIR FROM COUNTY DERRY, by Edwin H Lemare. This tune, sometimes known by those not from Northern Ireland as “Londonderry Air,” is best known as the melody of “Danny Boy.” It was published in 1855 and Percy Grainger finished a piano version of it in 1911. Fred Weatherly put his words to it in 1913. Lemare played Grainger’s arrangement on the organ in 1920 and Oliver Ditson published Lemare’s own organ arrangement of it five years later. You might play it for a concert or as a special St Patrick’s Day treat for your congregation.

2. SOUTHWESTERN SKETCHES, by Homer Nearing. This suite is another of Nearing’s compositions describing his beloved Southwest. Before moving to Pennsylvania, he worked at a church in Bryan and at Daniel Baker College in Brownwood, Texas, for seven years. You might play these pieces for a Hispanic Festival or simply to show Texas pride. I will add that he, an FAGO, always tried to write music so that organists of moderate technical ability could produce a musically satisfying result with program music. I admire that.

3. FROM HOLBERG’S TIME, by Grieg, arranged by Richard Ellsasser. Often called “The Holberg Suite,” this set of pieces is heard on classical radio in the arrangement for strings that Grieg made after his original piano composition of 1884. Grieg was studying to fulfill his commission for a cantata to celebrate Holberg’s 200th anniversary and was inspired to write this music. Ellsasser’s transcription is as good as it gets. Should you be interested, I offer on my page the original piano music as a free PDF.

4. OFFERTOIRE DE PÂQUES, by Edouard Batiste. The full title translated into English is “Offertory for the Holy Day of Easter” and it is a celebration of the great Easter tune most often heard in the French Classic style, “O Filii et Filiae,” “O Sons and Daughters.” You may know the name of Lefébure-Wély as the most popular Parisian organist for decades. Well, the second most popular organist in Paris was clearly Batiste! They both wrote decadent music for the church which took elements from the opera and brought them into the high-society churches. Batiste wrote this grand offertory on the beloved chant melody and dedicated it to Lefébure-Wély. If you have French opera lovers in your congregation, this is the piece for them!

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.

Thank you for your interest in this music. I take your thoughts seriously and, as you have seen, your suggestions do make a difference. I hope to continue to offer the music that you want to play.


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