Pedal Study, Chorale Canons, Parachutists March, and Our Old Folks

August is for many in the USA “vacation month.” I have chosen two selections which are indeed vacation-worthy, but the other two are solid technique builders. Read below to find out which is which.


1. TWO SETS OF VARIATIONS FOR PEDAL STUDY, by Eugene Thayer. John Apple chose these two for their pedal technique improvement and because they are not as easily available as much of Thayer’s other music. Besides, you need a few months to perfect Adeste Fideles!

2. TWO CANONS ON A CHORAL THEME, by August Haupt. If you know his name at all, it is because he taught nearly every American organist in the 19th century, including Thayer. Haupt was a lover of Bach and was known for his improvisations in the style of Bach. Here are two canons on a tune that Bach probably knew but didn’t use.

3. MARCHE OFFICIALE DES PARACHUTISTES BELGES, by Pierre Leemans, arranged by Allan Ontko. This well-known march was arranged by Allan back in 1996, and I thought its light military style with a bit of tongue-in-cheek added would be perfect for August.

4. OLD FOLKS AT HOME, by Stephen Foster, arranged by Wenham Smith. His dramatic variations on “Swanee River” were published during his first year (1888) as organist of the great Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York. Oliver Ditson had taken over the piece but still did not credit Foster in the printed music. At least they removed the composer credit for E P Christy! I want to acknowledge the assistance of Sharon L Hettinger in preparing this restoration.

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 sharing your interest in this music by playing it and sharing it online. I hope someone will send me their recording of the Parachutists March so I can take off my computer’s “performance.” 🙂

I need some lead time for my mother to make the Organ Console Dust Cloths for Christmas. Last year, it was not possible to get enough in time, so this year I want to get an idea to give her time to prepare. To make things simple, I present choices below and you can just reply to me with the numbers you think you’ll need.

White: ___ Red: ___ Blue: ___ Green: ___ Pink: ___ Purple: ___ One Eighth Note: ___ Two Eighth Notes: ___ Treble Clef: ___


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Chautauqua, Here We Come

Organ Concerts A Celebration of the Organ’s Survival

Here is a story that will make you feel good about what’s doing in Chautauqua. I’m especially proud that Jared has chosen to play some of the music that I’ve restored (Dawn and Night by Cyril Jenkins) I hope to get back up there in 2018 to hear him live!

After 110 years, multiple restorations and the complete rebuild of its home around it, the Massey Memorial Organ remains standing in the new Amphitheater.

The first Massey Memorial Organ Mini-Concert of the season will honor that resilience at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday in the Amp. Jared Jacobsen, organist and coordinator of worship and sacred music, titled the program “Survivor!” and said it will showcase the continued strength of the instrument.

“It really is a survivor,” Jacobsen said.

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Man-made versus Reproduced Music

The Menace of Mechanical Music

From Appleton’s Magazine from 1906, I present some of the most impressive prognostication of all time.

Children are naturally imitative, and if, in their infancy, they hear only phonographs, will they not sing, if they sing at all, in imitation and finally become simply human phonographs – without soul or expression? Congregational singing will suffer also, which, though crude at times, at least improves the respiration of many a weary sinner and softens the voices of those who live amid tumult and noise.

If you have not read “The Menace of Mechanical Music,” I heartily invite you to peruse the entire article. It’s not really long, and what John Philip Sousa wrote more than a century ago contains startlingly accurate descriptions of what we experience in our lives today.


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The fight to save New York’s historic Erben Organ

The Fight to Save New York’s Historic Erben Organ

There’s not much to the video part of this story from CBSN, but it is a powerful story about our heritage and the musical and religious history of New York City. I hope that this is really not a fight at all but a point of rallying behind the organ to keep and repair it. This was not the case with another important instrument, the Round Lake Organ, removed from New York City back in 1888.

The Erben Organ, as it was named after its creator, was designed by world-renowned New York City organ builder Henry Erben near the culmination of his six-decade career. Its structure was erected by his team of highly skilled American and European immigrant craftsmen, and the organ was delivered to St. Patrick’s by horse and carriage in 1868, just three years after the end of the Civil War.

Today, it is the only large, mid-19th-century pipe organ left in America that’s intact in its original acoustic space. And Lamenzo believes it is one of the most important historic instruments in the nation.

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“I Am A Real Boy” (Me!)

“Perfect. In in these Amazon mass marketing times, it’s nice to hear from a real human being. Especially the proprietor! All the best.” —Canada

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My Shelves Are Groaning Already

“It arrived safely!! AND, I must say, the durable paper and binding is a great pleasure to see! Please keep me on your mailing list, as I can foresee ordering at least a few more things. The problem is, my shelves are groaning already!” —Connecticut, USA

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Gems from Our Fascinating Catalogue

“Thanks very much for the FH Wood music – all arrived safely after having been taken in by a neighbour. Excellent quality production, and I hope to order further gems from your fascinating catalogue.” —United Kingdom

The Wood music ordered was:

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Thayer Organ Organ Restoration Is Complete

Thayer Organ Organ Restoration Is Complete

John Apple brought this to my attention, and I want to pass it on to you. The North Universalist Chapel Society houses this important organ, and this page of their website explains the detail and restoration. Since we have restored all of the Thayer sonatas and many of his other pieces, this organ and its restoration was naturally of interest. It’s not a long story, and I believe you will enjoy it.

Founding members of the Organ Historical Society, E. A. Boadway and Robert Reich “discovered” it in 1956. Having been aware that once prominent Boston organist, W. Eugene Thayer (1838—1889), once owned an organ, it was a small matter to match the names on the stop knobs with the stop names published by Thayer in a journal entitled The Organists’ Journal & Review. Thayer was a colorful and influential character in Boston’s organ scene, so finding an organ carefully specified by him indicated a direct link with the thinking of the times.


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Grand-daughter and Great Grandfather Found

“Thank you for the opportunity to acquire the score for Fantasia on My Old Kentucky Home by J E W Lord, who was my great-grandfather. While Googling his name, we came across your website and, with great delight, his composition. My mother, his grand-daughter, who is 91, is thrilled! We hope to have our church organist perform it! You have provided a service for which our family is truly grateful.”

—Massachusetts, USA

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Gatty Sellars Music and American Tour

Gatty Sellars Music and American Tour

Enjoy this brief article from 1916 which appeared in multiple publications announcing the fifth American tour for Sellars. It also includes mention of this month’s restoration of his “Fancies”: Fischer & Bro are “… just now issuing his “Overture Fantastique” and “Fancies” for organ and orchestra.”

You can see both of these pieces at:

The Musical Monitor (The Official Magazine of the National Federation of Musical Clubs), Vol VI, No 1. September 1916. P 43.

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