Friday 1 July 2016 at 19.30
I've called this concert 'Midsummer Organ Madness' for a number of reasons. Firstly, because of the 'fun' nature of the second half, secondly because a quarter of the programme is not even on the organ, and thirdly (coincidentally) I'm moving house on the same day. Anyone who combines public performance with a house move must be crazy!!
Estampie Retrouvé – Anon (c.1325)
Although the organ as an instrument is older than Christianity, having been invented by Ctesibius of Alexandria around 250BC (his wife was reputedly the first organist in the world), no organ music survives from before 1325. This estampie (a mediaeval dance), together with three arrangements of vocal pieces, was found in a book from Robertsbridge Abbey in Sussex.
Sellinger's Round – William Byrd (c.1540-1623)
A set of lively variations on an merry English country dance, included in both 'My Ladye Nevells Booke' (1591) and the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.
The next two pieces with Scottish connections could be called 'Midsummer Murders', as they commemorate two royal personages who lost their heads.
Defiled is my name – Robert Johnson (c.1470-after 1554)
The words for this piece were written by Anne Boleyn shortly before her execution at the Tower of London. Johnson, formerly a canon of Scone Abbey, was one of Anne's chaplains, and set her poem to music.
A Sad Pavan for these distracted times – Thomas Tomkins (1572-1656)
Tomkins, organist of Worcester Cathedral, wrote this pavan a fortnight after Charles I was executed in Whitehall by Cromwell. Distracted times, indeed, when three kingdoms were torn apart by bitter civil war.
Three pieces by European citizens in Scotland follow, all played on the piano:
Sonata for the harp (Op.2 no.3) – Sophia Corri Dussek (1775-1831)
Sophia Giustina Corri was a Scottish singer, pianist, harpist, and composer of Italian descent born in Edinburgh. She studied voice with her father, composer, music publisher, and impresario Domenico Corri who had settled in Scotland. She was well known as a soprano and composer of songs. In 1792, she married the Czech composer Jan Ladislaus Dussek. Following Jan's death in 1812, Sophia married the violist John Alvis Moralt.
Variations on 'Within a Mile of Edinburgh' – Jan Ladislaus Dussek (1760-1812)
Although the theme of these variations sounds like a real Scottish song, both words and music were written by Englishmen (D'Urfey and Hook), and the set of variations, written by a Czech composer, was published in Dublin. Very European!
Nocturne no.15 (Op.55 no.1) – Frederic Chopin (1810-1849)
Jane Stirling, a Scot, one of Chopin's pupils, brought him to Britain for a concert tour, and the Polish composer stayed at Calder House, not far from Dalmahoy, during the Scottish leg of the tour. Chopin dedicated this Nocturne to her.
INTERVAL (much-needed refreshments in the Douglas Hall!)
The Liberty Bell March – John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
Something completely different – need I say more, nudge, nudge?
Czardas – Vittorio Monti (1868-1922)
From Monty Python to Vittorio Monti – probably the best Czardas in the world.
The Teddy Bears' Picnic – John Walter Bratton (1867-1947)
Written in 1907 as 'The Teddy Bears Picnic. Characteristic Two Step', the lyrics were added by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy in 1932.
'Aint misbehavin', 'Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea' and 'Dinah' – arr. Thomas 'Fats' Waller (1904-1943)
Waller, a giant both physically and musically, had enormous hands. George Shearing compared shaking hands with him to holding a bunch of bananas.
'By the sleepy lagoon' and 'Calling All Workers' - Eric Coates (1886-1957)
Composed in 1930, the inspiration for the 'sleepy lagoon' was actually the view from Selsey across to Bognor Regis! In 1942, it was chosen as the signature tune to 'Desert Island Discs'. I was originally going to follow this with the 'Dambusters' March', but in view of Brexit, a piece commemorating an English victory over Europe would not be appropriate in 'these distracted times'. I therefore substitute 'Calling All Workers', a march dating from 1940, which is famous as being the signature tune of “Music While You Work” on the BBC Light Programme, which ran from 1940 to 1967.