1 Crown Imperial (W.Walton)
Walton had originally written Crown Imperial for the coronation of King Edward VIII which was scheduled for 12th May 1937. However, Edward had abdicated the previous year and the coronation was held on the scheduled day with King George VI. Walton derived the march's title from the modernisation of a phrase from William Dunbar's poem "In Honour of the City of London": "In beawtie berying the crone imperiall". Crown Imperial was also used at the 1953 coronation and at the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Cambridge. The structure was influenced by Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance marches, where the main theme appears three times, twice in the middle – soft then loud - and finally fortissimo at the end. At St Edmund’s, I generally perform Crown Imperial on the feast of Christ the King, the Sunday before Advent.
2 O Come, O Come Emmanuel (C.Hand)
Colin Hand was born in Lincolnshire in 1929 and studied at Trinity College, Dublin. As well as being a composer and performer, Hand has worked as a lecturer and examiner. The French melody of this Advent hymn dates from the 15th Century although the Latin text is much older. Here the melody appears as a canon between the oboe and the pedals.
3 In Dulci Jubilo (J.S.Bach)
The melody of “In Dulci Jubilo” appeared in "Piae Cantiones" ("Devout ecclesiastical and scholastic songs of the old bishops"). This 16th Century Finnish collection of mediaeval Latin songs is the original source of such well-known Christmas carols as "Unto Us A Boy Is Born", "Of The Father's Love Begotten" and "Good King Wenceslas". John Mason Neale discovered this forgotten collection in 1853 and made the English translations of many of these carols so familiar to us today. This chorale prelude - one of three arrangements by Bach - is always played at the end of the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge, as well as after Christmas services at St Edmund’s.
4 The Three Kings (P.Cornelius)
Peter Cornelius was a German composer who became friends with both Richard Wagner and Franz Liszt. His most famous work is “The Three Kings”, the third in a set of six Christmas Songs dating from 1856. Originally for voice and piano, it is now best-known in the choral arrangement with bass solo. The choir sing the Epiphany chorale chorale “Wie Schon Leuchtet der Morgenstern” (“How brightly shines the morning star”) while the soloist sings a counter-melody. In my arrangement for organ solo, the soloist’s line is played using the swell oboe but played on the pedals while the choir chorale is played on great flutes.
5 Chorale Prelude of “Stuggart" (F.Peeters)
The Belgian composer, organist and teacher Flor Peeters (1903-1986) held the post of chief organist at St Rumbold’s Cathedral in Mechelen for most of his life. He wrote over three hundred chorale preludes. His arrangement of “Stuggart” – the melody written by the German baroque composer Christian Friedrich Witt to the epiphany words “Bethlehem of noblest cities” – alternates the four lines of the hymn with a more elaborate treatment in between.
6 Chorale Prelude on “Aus Der Tiefe Rufe Ich” (J..S.Bach)
“Aus Der Tiefe” was published in the 1677 German hymnal “Nürnbergisches Gesang-Buch” as a setting for Christoph Schwamlein's text based on Psalm 130 "Out of the Depths I Cry", the melody being attributed to Martin Herbst. The familiar Lenten words of “Forty days and forty nights” were written by the Victorian George Smyttan. This two-movement partita is probably not by Johann Sebastian and is sometimes attributed to his son Johann Christian.
7 Prelude on “Rockingham" (C.Parry)
Hubert Parry was born in Bournemouth. Tragically his mother died just twelve days after his birth and Hubert was brought up at Highnam Court in Gloucestershire. He developed a love of music from an early age and played the organ in the local church from the age of eight. Hubert was educated at Eton and went on to read law and modern history at Oxford, his father discouraging a musical career. Hubert initially worked as an underwriter at Lloyds of London, studying music in his spare time. Eventually he left the insurance business and in 1883 was appointed Professor of Composition (and later Director) at the Royal College of Music where his pupils included Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst. The hymn tune “Rockingham” (to Isaac Watts’ Passiontide hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross”) was written by Edward Miller. Miller was a flautist in Handel’s orchestra and was organist at St George’s Minster in Doncaster for over half a century. This is the second of Parry’s fourteen Chorale Preludes which date from his final years.
8 Suite Gothique (L.Boellmann)
Leon Boellmann is best-known for his four-movement “Suite Gothique”, although he wrote over 160 pieces in his short life. Boellmann was born in Alsace in 1862 and studied at the Niedermeyer music school in Paris. In 1881 he became sub-organist at the church of St Vincent de Paul and six years later became organist, a post he held for ten years until his early death on October 11th 1897 from tuberculosis at the age of just 35. The “Suite Gothique” was written in 1895. It opens with an imposing Introduction-Choral in C Minor which consists of harmonised forte chordal phrases that are first played on the great and pedals and then repeated piano on the swell. The second movement is a lively “Menuet-Gothique” in C Major. The third movement is the soft and reflective “Priere a Notre Dame” in A flat major before the return of C Minor and the thrilling climax of the “Toccata”, which always reminds one particular member of St Edmund’s of “The Adams Family!
There will be a five minute interval
9 Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (J.S.Bach)
For the past seven years, I have played this piece before and after the Easter Day Eucharist. The musical world is divided as to whether the great composer actually composed the piece and it is indeed like nothing else that he ever wrote. There is no score in Bach's own hand and the earliest source is by one of his pupils, Johann Ringk, a character of allegedly dubious reputation. Peter Williams, one of the best-known Bach musicologists, suggests that the work was originally written for a solo violin and in the higher key of A Minor. The texture is much more characteristic of string writing and there was also a precedent for Bach transcribing violin pieces for organ. Several transcriptions have been made for solo violin as well as for piano and orchestra. The latter, by conductor Leopold Stokowski, was used to great effect in the 1940 Walt Disney film “Fantasia”. It has also been extensively covered by pop musicians.
10 Majestié du Christ Demandant Sa Gloire à Son Père (l’Ascension) (O.Messiaen)
Olivier Messiaen was organist at the church of Sainte-Trinite in Paris for over sixty years from 1931 until his death in 1992. “L’Ascension” was originally written for orchestra in 1933 when Messiaen was just 25, and was described by the composer as “four meditations for orchestra”. The following year, Messiaen made a version for solo organ – three movements were arrangements of the orchestral pieces but he composed a new third movement. The opening movement, which translates as “The majesty of Christ demanding its glory of the Father”, bears the words from John: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you”. Each phrase ends with a perfect triad but otherwise extra notes are added to produce special sonorities instantly recognisable as Messiaen’s.
11 Prelude on “Picardy” (A.Rowley)
Alec Rowley was born in 1892 and died in 1958. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music and later taught at Trinity College of Music. He was for many years organist at St Alban’s Church in Teddington. “Picardy” is based on a French carol thought to have originated in that region of North-West France to the words “Jesus Christ s’habille en pauvre” (Jesus came in garment lowly). It was arranged by Vaughan Williams in 1906 for the Eucharistic hymn “Let all mortal flesh keep silent” and I traditionally perform this arrangement at the festival of Corpus Christi.
12 Grand March “Fame & Glory" (A.Matt)
Albert Matt was born in Ipswich in 1864. He trained as a trombonist and played in the Covent Garden Orchestra as well as teaching in a number of music colleges. His Grand March Fame and Glory, published in 1904, is undoubtedly his most famous work as it is played annually for the march past of The Royal British Legion at The Cenotaph in London every Remembrance Sunday as well as at St Edmund’s on the same day. Matt died in 1941 and is buried in Alperton Cemetery.
13 Sicilienne (M.Paradis)
Maria Theresia von Paradis was born in 1759 and died in 1824. She was a composer, singer, pianist and organist and was blind for most of her life. She established a music school for girls and was also instrumental in establishing devices used by the blind to score music. Her compositions included operas, cantatas, piano concertos, sonatas and songs. She studied with Antonio Salieri and Mozart wrote a piano concerto for her. Her most famous ‘composition’ is the beautiful Sicilienne although it is of slightly dubious authenticity. The piece was 'discovered' by Samuel Dushkin and several scholars believe him to have actually written the piece.
14 Psalm Prelude, Set 1, No 1 (H.Howells)
Herbert Howells studied the organ with Gloucester Cathedral organist Herbert Brewer and won an open scholarship to the Royal College of Music where his teachers included Charles Stanford, Walter Parratt and Charles Wood. Howells wrote six Psalm Preludes equally divided into two sets. The first, written in 1916, is dedicated to Parratt and takes as its inspiration Psalm 34, verse 6: “Lo, the poor crieth and the Lord heareth him; yea saveth him out of all his troubles.” The form of the piece is a classic Howellsian crescendo-climax-diminuendo. Howells also wrote the hymn tune "Michael" to Robert Bridge's words All My Hope On God Is Founded. It is named after his only son who died from polio at the age of nine. For months Howells could not write a note until his daughter suggested he write a piece expressing his grief. The result was his Hymnus Paradisi, generally regarded as his masterpiece and one of the greatest pieces of English choral writing. I always play the piece as a prelude to the St Edmund’s Day Eucharist.
15 Toccata (Symphonie No 5) (C.Widor)
Charles Widor was born in Lyon in 1844 into a family of organists. The famous organ builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll was a family friend and it was partially through his influence that Widor was in 1870 appointed Organist at Saint-Sulpice in Paris, the most prominent post for an organist in France. He was initially appointed on a trial basis of one year as some of the clergy were concerned that at 25 he might be too young although in the end this temporary appointment lasted 64 years! He also succeeded Cesar Franck as Professor of Organ at the Paris Conservatoire.
Widor wrote ten organ symphonies which were largely made possible as a result of the innovations in organ design introduced by Cavaille-Coll which allowed the player to control the dynamics. Before this an organist generally selected the stops at the beginning of a piece and then played through without touching them again. The fifth symphony was published in 1879. The Toccata, the fifth movement, surely needs no introduction. The pedal melody, the left hand rhythmic chords and the right hand staccato semiquavers combine to produce a thrilling climax. At St Edmund’s the work gets two outings a year, on Easter Saturday and on St Edmund’s Day.