It should come as no surprise to those of us living on Ohio’s North Coast that weather rules the day, and will make the final determination if an event will take place or be cancelled. Re-scheduling of the organ repertoire sharing event which had been scheduled for February 6th at Holy Angels Catholic Church is set for Sunday, June 12 at 3:00.
Of particular disinterest in the February TAO is “The Last Page” (to me, at least); I admit I had to “throw in the towel” on it.
Of exceptional interest, however, is the pg. 50 article regarding the Aeoline Organ installed at Longwood Gardens, the DuPont estate near Philadelphia. While I have visited Longwood Gardens several times I was never on hand to hear the organ played.
In the January 2011 installment of the Chapter Newsletter attention was focused on a new G. Schirmer publication “Samuel Barber, Music for Organ” released in June 2010, which the reviewer alleged to contain all the organ works of this composer (it does not, as I pointed out in that newsletter).
Of great interest in this collection is a composition by the 15 year old Samuel Barber titled “To Longwood Gardens,” premiered by Firmin Swinnen (pictured in TAO next to the console of the Longwood Organ) in 1925. Dedicated to Mr. and Mrs. Pierre S. DuPont in gratitude for the many musical experiences they provided him at their Estate, this piece is an example of the descriptive nature painting so in favor with composers for
the organ in the early 20th century. Hardly a work of the mature Barber (In a Persian Garden by Ketelby comes to mind) it is fascinating to encounter the influences Barber was confronted with as a very young man and to follow his development forward.
Also included is William Stickland’s approved-by-the-composer arrangement of the “Adagio for Strings,” rather dull “Chorale for a New Organ,” “Chorale Prelude on Silent Night,” arranged by the composer from his orchestral suite “Die Natali” (if your instrument does not include a very ethereal string celeste, don’t even try), a Prelude and Fugue very reminiscent of Max Reger, (late Romantic in style and highly chromatic), “Suite for Carillon,” which is highly unsuitable for the organ, and Barber’s one true masterpiece for the organ, “Wondrous Love: Variations on a Shape Note Hymn,” the latter being commissioned by Richard Rockelein, organist of Christ Episcopal Church in Grosse Point, Michigan, to whom the work is dedicated and who premiered it at that church in October, 1958.
Shame on the AGO for not commissioning a set of Chorale Preludes from Samuel Barber during his lifetime; what an asset to the repertoire has been lost as a result of that neglect.