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8.550955 - Organ Showpieces from St. Paul's Cathedral
Organ Showpieces from St. Paul’s Cathedral
Herbert Murrill (1909 - 1952)
Max Reger (1873 - 1916)
Flor Peeters (1903 - 1986)
Theodore Dubois (1837 - 1924)
Cesar Franck (1822 - 1890)
Jean Langlais (1907 - 1991)
Eugene Gigout (1844 - 1925)
Louis Vierne (1870 - 1937)
The English organist and composer Herbert Murrill was born in 1909 and trained at the Royal Academy of Music before becoming an organ scholar at Worcester College, Oxford. He was for a time music director for the Oxford Group at the Westminster Theatre and subsequently worked for the BBC, before and after the war, while continuing to serve as a professor of composition at the Royal Academy, from 1933 until his death in 1952. His Carillon is a fanfare-toccata, an impressive piece of changing rhythms and metres. It remains possibly the best known of his organ compositions.
Max Reger, often spurred on by the desire to provide his friend Karl Straube with ever more difficult works to perform, made very significant additions to the repertoire of organ music. He was born in 1873 at Brand in Bavaria, the son of a schoolmaster and amateur musician. After early lessons from Adalbert Lindner, town organist of Weiden, he became a pupil of Riemann in Sondershausen. In his many organ compositions, some 220 in all, Reger, although a Catholic, continues largely the Protestant tradition, particularly in his Chorale Preludes and Chorale Fantasias. After a period in Munich, he settled in 1907 in Leipzig as professor of composition and director of music, moving four years later to Meiningen as director of the orchestra .He spent his final years in Jena. Reger's Opus 59, published in 1901, consists of twelve pieces. Three of these, including the Benedictus, are based on movements from the Mass, and contain Gregorian elements. The D minor Toccata and D major Fugue from the same set of pieces provide a magnificent development of earlier forms, justifying Reger's recognised position as the most important German composer for the organ since Johann Sebastian Bach.
The Belgian composer and organist Flor Peeters enjoyed a distinguished reputation as a concert performer as well as in his capacity as a teacher and editor of early music. His well known Aria, which has been much transcribed, is music of particular charm.
Flor Peeters has been said to combine features of Flemish and French style. Theodore Dubois belongs firmly to the great French tradition of organists, as a pupil of Benoit at the Paris Conservatoire, where he studied the piano with Marmontel, winning the Prix de Rome in 1861. After serving as maitre de chapelle at Ste Clotilde and at the Madeleine, in 1877 he succeeded Saint- Saëns at the latter church, while serving as professor of harmony and composition at the Conservatoire, of which he became director in 1896, succeeding his former teacher Ambroise Thomas. He resigned as director in the aftermath of the affaire Ravel, when he was succeeded by Fauré. Dubois wrote a considerable amount of organ music. His Douze pieces were published in 1886 and include the notable Toccata, written, as so often, with the splendours of the Cavaillé-Coll organ in mind.
For over thirty years César Franck was organist at Ste Clotilde, with its Cavaillé-Coll organ, installed there in 1859. Born in Belgium and originally intended by his father for a career as a virtuoso pianist, Franck eventually made his career in Paris as an organist, teacher and composer, his innate modesty attracting a loyal group of pupils but militating against the wider success of his music in his own life-time. He is undoubtedly the greatest French organ composer of his time. Among his most popular organ compositions is the Choral No.3 in A minor, one of a set of three written in the last year of his life. In ternary form, the Choral has a slow lyrical central section, framed by more vigorous outer sections.
Jean Langlais studied at the Institut des Jeunes Aveugles in Paris and was later a pupil of Marcel Dupré at the Conservatoire, where his composition teacher was Paul Dukas. He had lessons from Tournemire, who was for forty years organist at Ste Clotilde, succeeding him in 1945. His three Poemes évangéliques were written in 1932 and have programmatic elements, evident in the second, La nativité. The three Paraphrases grégoriennes were written in 1934, the third of the set based on the Te Deum.
Born in Nancy in 1844, Eugene Gigout was trained and later taught at the Ecole Niedermeyer, where he had been a pupil of Saint-Saëns and a fellow-student of Fauré. He later succeeded Alexandre Guilmant as professor of organ at the Conservatoire. He was appointed organist in 1863 at St. Augustin, where a Cavaillé-Coll organ was installed in 1868, and remained in this position for some sixty years. It was Gigout who gave the first performance of Franck's Choral in A minor. His Scherzo, one of ten organ pieces, provides a brilliant addition to French organ repertoire.
Louis Vierne, almost blind as a child, studied at the Paris Blind Institute, the Institut des Jeunes Aveugles and was a pupil of Franck and of Widor at the Conservatoire, succeeding the latter at St Sulpice and at the Conservatoire, and in 1900 becoming organist at Notre Dame. The Carillon de Westminster is a well known show-piece, a large-scale fantasy that recalls the familiar sound of the bells of London's Westminster.
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