About the Music
The very British-style Trumpet Tune in A was written in 1994 by Toronto composer Richard Baker (b. 1949) in honor of the Queen Mother.
The Canada Pacific Railway (Schottisch) of Ontario musician D. S. Mills, published in 1887, pays a musical tribute to the inauguration of a continuous railway line between Montreal and British Columbia.
Clarence Lucas (1866-1947) was in his time one of Canada's most respected and versatile composers. His Canadian Wedding March dates from 1918.
British-born Edwin H. Lemare (1865-1934), one of this century's most brilliant organ recitalists, served as Municipal Organist in San Francisco; Portland, Maine; and in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There is a surprise folk tune near the end of this fine arrangement, written in 1921.
The Jupiter Theme is from Gustav Holst's orchestral suite The Planets, written in 1920.
Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (1875-1912) was born in London, the son of a black African father (a native of Sierra Leone and a medical doctor) and an English mother. His main compositions for the organ are his Opus 78 Three Impromptus (1911).
Of all the English tunes, Jerusalem by C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918) is certainly one of the most beloved. This arrangement for solo organ by James Welch is published by MorningStar.
California composer Dale Wood (b. 1934) has a special gift for arranging folk and hymn tunes for the organ. His lush setting of the Welsh melody associated with the text All Through the Night is particularly beautiful.
Georges MacMaster (1862-1898) was born in Ireland but made his home in Paris. A student of Franck and Gigout, he served several Paris area churches, was heard in frequent recitals, and established his own art institute.
Claude Balbastre (1727-1799), one of the leading organists of the French Classical period, wrote this set of variations in 1792 on what was the theme song of the French revolutionaries and has become the French national anthem. In the second variation are passages marked "Combat," "Flight of the enemy," and "Cannon fire," the latter which involves holding down all the notes of the bottom octave to create a rumbling effect. Following the "battle," the jaunty Ca-ira tune is heard on a fife as the soldiers retreat.
The "Dorian" Toccata by J. S. Bach (1685-1750) holds special significance for me. In January 1990, just days after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I was invited to play for a service at St. Thomas Church in Leipzig where Bach himself was music director from 1723-1750. This was the piece I chose to play.
Franklin Ashdown (b. 1942) lives in New Mexico, where he pursues a dual career as a composer and physician. A Tuscan Adagio (1998, dedicated to James Welch), was inspired by the composer's visit to the cathedral in Siena, Italy.
Pietro Yon (1886-1943), born in Italy, studied in Milan and Turin. He came to America in 1907, and was appointed organist of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York in 1927. His Humoresque (1918), was inspired by a primitive portative organ that he had seen in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is registered for "one 8' Flute."
The Toccata by Georgi Mushel (1909-1989) is one of the few published works for organ by Russian composers. His compositions include an opera, a ballet, a cantata, three symphonies, six piano concerti, chamber music, songs, organ preludes, and a suite on Uzbek themes.
The tune for James H. Spencer's charming piece from 1938 "was taken down from the playing of a Chinese boy on a native bamboo flute by T. H. Post." A Chinese friend of mine confirmed that this is a traditional tune about the water lily.
Angelo Camin (1913-1987), organist of the impressive Teatro Municipal in downtown Sao Paulo, was one of the leading teachers and organ recitalists in Brazil. In spite of a finger injury, he had a brilliant performing career. His Scherzo was written in 1961.
Of all the Mexican organ composers of this century, Ramon Noble (1925-1999) was the most prolific. His works employ Mexican nationalistic themes and lively rhythms, as evidenced by these two pieces, which I edited and published with Vivace Press
Seth Bingham (1882-1972) studied with Horatio Parker, Widor, Guilmant, and taught at Yale. Sailing over Jordan, from his 1928 suite Pioneer America, is inscribed "To the memory of Booker Washington."
Powell Weaver (1890-1951), a brilliant organist, is best known for his scherzo-caprice, The Squirrel, one of the most popular concert organ works throughout the 1930s and 1940's.
About the Instrument
The organ of St. Elizabeth Church, San Francisco, was built by Schoenstein & Co. in 1986. Schoenstein is the largest and oldest pipe organ firm in the Western United States, and one of the oldest in North America. The company was founded in the Black Forest of Germany in the mid-nineteenth century and was established in San Francisco in 1877. Their instruments are found in churches and concert halls throughout the country. This instrument containts two manuals, 17 voices, 21 ranks, and 1173 pipes, with electric-pneumatic action.