'The Gorgeous Georgians'
Some years ago on the 18th century organ of St. Mary Rotherhithe, London, I set myself the task of playing representative pieces by all the English 18th century organ composers I could find. It took me six months to get through 29 composers. I'm now repeating the series for you, taking you on a musical journey through history from 1707 to 1837. The title 'Gorgeous Georgians' is borrowed from 'Horrible Histories'! You can read about the whole series here.
Sunday 7 June 2015 – Pentecost 2
William Croft (1678-1727)
Croft was a pupil of John Blow at the Chapel Royal. He was appointed in 1704 as joint organist at the Chapel Royal, sharing the post with Jeremiah Clarke until Clarke's suicide in 1707. In 1708 he succeeded Blow as organist of Westminster Abbey. The style of Croft's organ works bridges the transition from the Restoration to the Georgian style.
Prelude: Voluntary 11 – Croft
Communion: Voluntary 8 – Croft
Postlude: Voluntary 12 – Croft
This is a typical 'Full Voluntary' – a slow introduction, followed by a fast fugue.
Sunday 14 June – Pentecost 3
George Frideric Handel (1685-1759)
Handel settled in London in 1712, moving to the house in Brook Street in 1723. This set of 'Six Fugues or Voluntarys for the Organ or Harpsichord' was composed in 1716, and published by John Walsh in 1735.
Prelude: Fugue 4 (HWV 608) - Handel
Communion: Fugue 6 (HWV 610) - Handel
Postlude: Fugue 2 (HWV 606) - Handel
Sunday 21 June – Pentecost 4
William Hine (1687-1730)
Hine was appointed deputy organist of Gloucester Cathedral in 1708, and organist in 1710. One voluntary was published after his death.
Prelude: Voluntary in F – Hine
Thomas Roseingrave (1690-1766)
Roseingrave travelled to Italy in 1710, meeting the Scarlattis. He returned in 1720, becoming the first organist of the new church of St. George, Hanover Square, in 1725. 'Among Roseingrave's scholars was a young lady to whom he was greatly attached, and whose affections he had gained, but her father, who intended to give her a large fortune, did not approve of her marrying a musician, and forbade Roseingrave his house. This disappointment affected his brain, and he never entirely recovered the shock. He neglected his scholars and lost his business.' (Archdeacon Coxe). He was sacked from St. George's in 1737, and later moved to Ireland.
Communion: Voluntary in F minor – Roseingrave
A slow movement for the diapasons (originally stopped and open drawn together), with constantly-shifting tonality.
Elizabeth Turner (d.1756)
One of the foremost sopranos of her day, working frequently for Handel, Elizabeth Turner was one of the first Englishwomen to publish any substantial compositions. Although intended as harpsichord music, her 'Lessons' work well on an eighteenth-century organ.
Postlude: Lesson III for the harpsichord ([Allegro], – Minuetto Affettuoso, – Giga, – March) Turner
Sunday 28 June – Pentecost 5
Maurice Greene (1695-1755)
Greene was a chorister at St Paul's Cathedral under Jeremiah Clarke and Charles King. Studying the organ under Richard Brind, he was organist of St. Dunstan in the West and St. Andrew, Holborn, before succeeding Brind at St Paul's. When Croft died in 1727, Greene took his place as organist in the Chapel Royal, in 1730 becoming professor of music at Cambridge. In 1735 he was appointed Master of the King's Musick. He inherited a fortune in 1750, and gathered manuscripts together for the publication of a series of 'Cathedral Music'. He never completed the project, and left his research materials to William Boyce, who completed the publication.
Prelude: Voluntary 8 in C minor – Greene
Popular in 20th century arrangements for full modern organ with pedals, Greene's original is formed of a short slow introduction followed by a sprightly Vivace.
Communion: Voluntary 3 in A minor – Greene
In the usual two-movement form, the second movement is an Andante.
Postlude: Voluntary 12 in E – Greene
The final voluntary of a set of 10 or 12 was usually the climax of the set, and this one is no disappointment. The slow introduction is highly decorated in the Restoration style. This is followed by a fugal Vivace, which keeps the momentum going right to the end.
Sunday 5 July – Pentecost 6
John Travers (c.1703-1758)
A chorister at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor, Travers was a pupil of Maurice Greene and Pepusch. Organist of St. Paul, Covent Garden (1725) and Fulham Church, and sub-organist of St. Paul’s Cathedral (1727), he was appointed organist of the Chapel Royal in 1737, as the partner of his teacher Greene. Best known for his church and vocal music, a set of ‘XII Voluntaries for the Organ or Harpsichord’ was published posthumously.
Preludes: Voluntaries no.2 in F and no.4 in C – Travers
No.2 is a Cornet Voluntary with almost continuous semiquaver movement,and no.4 is for ‘Full Choir Organ’.
Communion: Voluntary no.6 in A minor and major – Travers
A voluntary for the flute (a 4 ft stop).
Postlude: Voluntary no.10 in D major – Travers
A Full Voluntary in the form of a prelude and fugue.
Sunday 12 July – Pentecost 7
William Boyce (1710-1779)
Born in London, Boyce was a choirboy at St Paul's Cathedral before studying music with Maurice Greene. He was appointed Master of the King's Musick in 1755 and organist of the Chapel Royal in 1758. When Boyce's deafness became so bad that he was unable to continue as a working organist, he retired and worked on completing the compilation of ‘Cathedral Music’ that his teacher Greene had left incomplete at his death.
Prelude: Voluntary 1 in D - Boyce
Voluntary 1 is in two movements: a short introduction for the diapasons, followed by a lively movement for trumpet and echo.
John James (d.1745)
After many posts as deputy, John James was organist of St. Olave, Southwark 1730-36, possibly moving to St. George-in-the-East. He was noted for his skills in extemporisation.
Communion: Voluntary in A minor – James
A full voluntary with a fugal second movement.
Postlude: Voluntary 10 in G - Boyce
Voluntary 10 is a Full Voluntary consisting of an introduction and fugue.
Sunday 19 July – Pentecost 8
John Keeble (1711-1786)
Keeble was organist of St. George, Hanover Square, and published his collection of eighteen voluntaries in three sets of six between 1777 and 1778. Whereas the majority of organ composers of the time explored the many different colours available on the eighteenth century organ, Keeble's strength was in his counterpoint.
Prelude: Voluntary no.13 in F major – Keeble
A slow first movement alternating between the Great and the Swell, ending with a 'Cadence ad Libitum’, leads into the fugal second movement.
Communion: Voluntary no.5 in G minor (first two movements) – Keeble
The short first movement, featuring dotted rhythms, leads into a soft Andante, returning to the dotted rhythms as at the beginning. The fugue will not be played today.
Postlude: Voluntary 14 in C minor – Keeble
Voluntary 14 is a three-movement work, consisting of an opening Largo, an Allegro in the relative major of E flat, followed by a fugue in C minor.
Sunday 26 July – Pentecost 9
John Stanley (1713-1786)
John Stanley, blind from the age of two, was organist of St. Andrew Holborn at the age of fourteen and at the age of seventeen became the youngest person to obtain the Oxford degree of Bachelor of Music. In 1734 he was appointed organist to the Inner Temple, and it was in the Temple Church that Handel heard him perform. He succeeded William Boyce as Master of the King’s Musick from 1779, a post he held until his death in 1786.
Prelude: Voluntary in D (Op.6 no.5) – Stanley
This voluntary in three movements demonstrates different reed stops. After the customary diapason movement on the Great, the second movement uses the Great Trumpet with echoes. The slow movement which follows uses a soft combination in alternation with a soft reed.
Communion: Voluntary in D minor (Op.7 no.4) – Stanley
The second movement is a dialogue between a soft reed and accompaniment. At one point in the original, all three manuals are in use simultaneously, the inner voice being ‘thumbed’ on the Choir.
Postlude: Voluntary in D minor (Op.5 no.8) – Stanley
This voluntary is in three movements. The first uses a flute at 4ft pitch as solo stop. The slow movement in the middle is entirely on the Swell, and does not go below fiddle G, the lowest note of an 18th century Swell. The finale is a vigorous fugue on full Great, with episodes on another manual.