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)

Posted in Education/Information | 4 Comments

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

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

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:

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Customer Service | 1 Comment

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:

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

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.


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!

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.

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.

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.

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


Posted in Church, Concert | Leave a comment

Noack Comes to St Paul’s, Lower Broadway

An Organ — and Soon Another — Lands on Broadway

One of my blog readers suggested this article in The New York Times. It is rich with writing, photos, and a fine short video about the Noack organ. The hatred shown for electronic organs is a bit over the top, but we are all probably able to understand it. This historic structure surely deserves the best after all of the destructive force it has endured from those many years ago.

To hear Julian Wachner tell it, playing the organs of Trinity Church Wall Street in recent years has posed risks to both body and spirit. “It is soul-numbing to play that thing,” Mr. Wachner, the church’s hard-driving director of music and arts, said of the digital instrument in Trinity Church, on Lower Broadway. He also called the Schlicker pipe organ, long resident in St. Paul’s Chapel, Trinity’s historic satellite a few blocks north, “tendinitis central.” But all that will soon change. Some of it already has.

Be sure to read about the 15-year-old digital instrument planned to be replaced by an $8 million pipe organ now being made by Rosales.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

Pietro Yon Biography Added

Pietro Yon Biography Added

I have added our capsule biography of Pietro Yon to the Biographies page. It’s a short and informational one-page article on Yon’s life and work.

Biographies Page

After reading it, if you are interested in more detail in an engaging biographical novel, please look at The Heavens Heard Him.

Posted in Education/Information | Leave a comment

To Robert Elmore from CDJ

To Robert Elmore from CDJ

Today, I just have to tell you about a piece I’m working on. If you remember James Burke’s great series called “Connections,” my memories of it and meeting the author is what brought this one to the top, so to say. It’s not a ‘perfect storm,’ but it’s really interesting to me. So, here are the facts.

Two Italians emigrated to the United States in New York City. They were named Casimiro and Antoinette DeGioio. Notice that the piece shown above was written by Casimiro, an organist, pianist, and vocal coach.

Belle of Mexico, one of Casimiro’s pieces published by Carl Fischer

In 1913, a son named Nicodemo was born. His godfather was Pietro Yon, then organist at St Francis Xavier. Nicodemo, whose name was later changed to Norman, studied with Pietro Yon.

Casimiro, being from Italy, had no greater way to show respect than to write a piece that related to his home country, so he wrote “Neopolitan Night” for organ and dedicated it to the organist he greatly admired, Robert Elmore. (See the dedication above.) Remember, Casimiro was an organist and teacher, just like Elmore.

Robert Elmore

Both father and son later changed the spelling of their names, as did so many immigrants: Casimiro Dello Joio and his famous son, Norman. Look for the restoration of “Notturno Napoletano” later this year.

Posted in Education/Information | 2 Comments