Sunday 29th May The Second Sunday after Pentecost
Preludes on 'Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend'
Prelude: (BWV 709 and 726) - Bach
Communion: (BWV 749) - Bach
Postlude: (BWV 655) – Bach
Four chorale preludes on the hymn (AMNS 491) which we sing today at the Gradual. Another Bach prelude, BWV 632 from the 'Little Organ Book', will be played as an introduction to the hymn in the traditional Lutheran way.
Sunday 5th June The Third Sunday after Pentecost
Prelude: Master Tallis's Testament - Howells
Communion: Tallis Theme – arr. Martin and Geoffrey Shaw
Postlude: Paean - Howells
As a curtain-raiser to the season of English Renaissance music which follows, I play Howells's evocation of the Tudor era. Howells was greatly moved by hearing the first performance of Vaughan Williams's 'Tallis Fantasia' in Gloucester Cathedral in 1910, and the theme of this I play during the communion in an arrangement by the Shaw brothers.
Sunday 12th June The Fourth Sunday after Pentecost
Mediaeval Organ Music
Prelude: Estampie I (Robertsbridge Codex c.1325)
Communion: Felix namque – Anon (c.1400)
Postlude: Estampie Retrouvé (Robertsbridge Codex c.1325)
Although the organ as an instrument is older than Christianity, having been invented by Ctesibius of Alexandria around 250BC (his wife was the first organist), no organ music survives from before 1325. These two estampies (mediaeval dances), together with three arrangements of vocal pieces, were found in a book from Robertsbridge Abbey in Sussex. 'Felix namque', a piece based on the Gregorian offertory chant for the vigil of the Assumption, dates from a slightly later period.
Sunday 19th June The Fifth Sunday after Pentecost
John Redford (c.1485-1547)
Organist of St Paul's Cathedral, London, Redford was one of the first composers, rather than improvisers, for the organ, and a major contributor to the 'Mulliner Book'. All his organ music was written for the pre-Reformation Latin liturgy and is based on Gregorian chants.
Prelude: Iste confessor with a meane - Redford
Communion: Veni redemptor - Redford
Postlude: Glorificamus - Redford
Sunday 26th June The Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
Thomas Tallis (c.1505-1585)
Organist at Waltham Abbey at its dissolution in 1540, Tallis became a Gentleman and organist of the Chapel Royal. His career spans the liturgical changes of the English Reformation. Like Byrd, he remained a Roman Catholic, but kept his post in the Chapel Royal. Born about a hundred years after the death of Chaucer, he died a hundred years before the birth of Handel.
Prelude: Clarifica me Pater - Tallis
Communion: Veni redemptor - Tallis
Postlude: Iste confessor - Tallis
Sunday 3rd July The Seventh Sunday after Pentecost
John Blitheman (c.1525-1591)
Organist at Christ Church, Oxford, Blitheman became a Gentleman and organist of the Chapel Royal in 1585 in succession to Tallis. He was the teacher of John Bull, who in turn succeeded him at the Chapel Royal.
Prelude: Eterne rerum conditor - Blitheman
Communion: Gloria tibi Trinitas (iv) - Blitheman
Postlude: Gloria tibi Trinitas (vi) - Blitheman
Sunday 10th July The Eighth Sunday after Pentecost
William Byrd (c.1540-1623)
Byrd, pupil of Tallis and one of England's greatest composers, was organist of Lincoln Cathedral before joining the Chapel Royal as singer and organist. A Roman Catholic at heart, he wrote for both the Latin and English liturgies, but managed to maintain his post in the Chapel Royal to his death.
Prelude: A Voluntary for my lady Nevell - Byrd
Communion: The Galliard to the Tenth Pavan - Byrd
Postlude: The Carman's Whistle - Byrd
'My Ladye Nevell's Booke', a collection of Byrd's keyboard music, was copied in 1591 by John Baldwin, and was probably proof-read by the composer himself. The set of variations on 'The Carman's Whistle' was popular in Byrd's day, and appears in a number of contemporary collections.
Sunday 17th July The Ninth Sunday after Pentecost
Peter Philips (c.1560-1628)
Philips, like Byrd, was a Roman Catholic, and left England in 1582 after having been a chorister at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. He settled in Antwerp, and visited Amsterdam in 1593, where he probably met Sweelinck. Wikipedia intriguingly hints at a possible Devon origin, so he may have been a relative of mine!
Prelude: Pavana Dolorosa - Philips
Communion: Pavane - Philips
Postlude: Fantasia – Philips
The second Pavane I play today was 'the first one Philips made', and the great Dutch organist Sweelinck subsequently wrote a set of variations on it.
Sunday 24th July The Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
John Bull (1562-1628)
Pupil of Blitheman, Bull became organist of Hereford Cathedral at the age of twenty, and later joined the Chapel Royal as singer and organist. He fled to the continent in 1613, and became organist of Antwerp Cathedral.
Prelude: The Spanish Pavan - Bull
Communion: Dr. Bull's Jewel - Bull
Postlude: A Gigge: Doctor Bull's my selfe – Bull
Sunday 31st July The Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost
Giles Farnaby (c.1563-1640)
Farnaby, possibly a Cornishman, graduated at Oxford at the same time as Bull. Unlike the other great English virginalists, he did not work in the Church, but earned his living as a music teacher. He is most notable for his virginal music, 52 pieces of his being included in the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. In the four pieces played as a prelude today, Farnaby gives us a kind of self-portrait.
Preludes: Farnaby's Conceit – Giles Farnaby's Dreame – His Rest – His Humour
Communion: A Maske - Farnaby
Postlude: Loth to Depart – Farnaby