AN ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN ORGAN MUSIC, VOLUMES 1 & 2: The 18th and 19th Century - Janice Beck, organ

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EXPLORING MUSIC: ORGANIC - BORN IN THE USA by David White

ORGANIC - BORN IN THE USA by David White

It’s fair to raise the question – what are you getting when you purchase this collection? Is an anthology a collection or just another fancy word that we need to use when we get tired or bored of calling something a collection? The internet told me that an anthology is a collection of a number of authors or artists collected together with one theme – so in this case, anthology is right!

 

In the world of classical music “marketing”, or at least classical music “putting things together”, collections tend toward a highly scholarly bent, which makes sense since these collections aren’t being put together to sell hot dogs and they aren’t being put together by hot dog vendors. So Janice and Charles Beck, in the early 1970s, went to the Musical Heritage Society with the idea that they were going to go where no organist had gone before – they were going to memorialize the early organ works of the early American citizens.

 

Organ music is a career for the brave or stupid – the amount of people making their living performing or writing about or teaching organ music could be put in a room in a nice hotel in a medium sized city and locked in and they’d never be heard from again. And it would take a few days for someone to realize what had happened (let’s face it, by Sunday they’d be missed).

 

These recordings have been out of print for over 40 years, but they represent a truly crazy and wonderful journey. Researching and performing the organ works of the first American composers – some wrote even before we started to call ourselves Americans. While important to us, it’s key to remember that Bach had died before the United States became a country, so organ music wasn’t as young or undeveloped as the USA. But these folks were in a wilderness – and just the act of performing ANY organ music would seem to be a task, before you start to uncover those hardy souls who attempted to write NEW organ music.

 

I’ll spoil any surprises if you were curious – no, there’s no hidden works here that rival the great organ works that were being written in Europe, and nothing that would make you think someone might have earned a trip to peek over the masters’ shoulder. But – what you hear the glimpses of a new vocabulary. The works here are all short works – no organ symphonies, one sonata, but mostly hymns for the initial audiences – churchgoers of a particularly Puritanical bent. But they were driven by a desire that matched the guys in Philly and Washington and Boston and Saratoga and Fort Ticonderoga who were distracted from making music because they were fighting against the British in a very unfriendly manner. Then after that unpleasantness left, we see a flowering in Volume 2 as composers attempt to set down roots that will tell the world that this new country has its own identity, and it would need to be expressed in musical ideas.

 

So I’m not certain if this anthology is meant for continuous and background play – almost certainly not, after the initial go through. But as a item to be lingered over, to be thought about and examined, there might not be a more refreshing and helpful series of recordings offered.

TRACK LISTING

VOLUME 1:

1 ANONYMOUS: General Burgoyne's March 02:11
2 ANONYMOUS: Brandywine Quick-Step 01:06
3 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: My Days have Been So Wondrous Free 01:17
4 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: The Toast 00:51
5 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: Beneath A Weeping Willow's Shade 02:11
6 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: Come Fair Rosina, Come Away 01:28
7 JOHN CHRISTOPHER MOLLER: Sinfonia in E-Flat Major 04:19
8 WILLIAM BILLINGS: Chester 01:05
9 WILLIAM BILLINGS: Conquest 01:25
10 WILLIAM BILLINGS: Jargon 01:01
11 WILLIAM BILLINGS: When Jesus Wept 01:58
12 JAMES LYON: 19th Psalm 01:02
13 ALEXANDER REINAGLE: Minuet and Gavotte in A Major: I. Minuet 01:58
14 ALEXANDER REINAGLE: Minuet and Gavotte in A Major: II. Gavotte 00:44
15 WILLIAM SELBY: 10 Voluntaries: VII. Voluntary in A Major 03:16
16 PIERRE LANDRIN DUPORT: Minuet in B-Flat Major 02:14
17 PIERRE LANDRIN DUPORT: Minuet in F Major 02:37
18 JAMES BREMNER: Trumpet Air in D Major 01:35
19 VICTOR PELISSIER: Waltz in A Major 01:27
20 JOHN PALMA: Lesson in B Major 02:00
21 JAMES HEWITT: Nahant Waltz in D Major 01:39
22 ANONYMOUS: Washington's March 02:08/PHILE: The President's March

VOLUME 2:

1 HORATIO PARKER: Five Short Pieces, Op. 68: 2. Slumber-song 02:58
2 HORATIO PARKER: Organ Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 65: III. Allegretto 03:18
3 HORATIO PARKER: Five Short Pieces, Op. 68: 4. Arietta in C Minor 03:02
4 HORATIO PARKER: Four Compositions, Op. 36: 3. Fugue in C Minor 03:59
5 ARTHUR FOOTE: Seven Compositions for Organ, Op. 71: 4. Canzonetta in A Minor 05:10
6 CHARLES WHITEFIELD CHADWICK: Pastorale in E-Flat Major 03:12
7 GEORGE FREDERIC BRISTOW: Six Pieces for Organ, Op. 45: 1. Impromptu - Voluntary in F Major 02:12
8 GEORGE FREDERIC BRISTOW: Six Pieces for Organ, Op. 45: 4. Impromptu - Voluntary in G Minor 03:21
9 GEORGE FREDERIC BRISTOW: Six Pieces for Organ, Op. 45: 6. Impromptu - Voluntary in C Major 01:54
10 JOHN KNOWLES PAINE: Two Preludes for Organ, Op. 19: 2. Prelude in B Minor 08:42
11 JOHN KNOWLES PAINE: Two Sets of Variations for Organ, Op. 3: 1. Concert Varations on the Austrian Hymn in F Major 09:50

LINER NOTES

OUR REVIEW

First off - you know who you are - you're going to love this for two reasons. It's been out of print for 40 years, and you are the person who will buy any organ compilation that comes along. However, if you're not that person, this collection will be a helpful musicialogical tour guide. You'll never be able to listen start to finish - but a little at a time gives you a sense that early musical pioneers - quirky, original, inspired - brought us to our future. --David White

LISTEN - BILLINGS: CHESTER

Poster

AN ANTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN ORGAN MUSIC, VOLUMES 1 & 2: The 18th and 19th Century - Janice Beck, organ

CHOOSE YOUR FILE FORMAT:

EXPLORING MUSIC

ORGANIC - BORN IN THE USA by David White

It’s fair to raise the question – what are you getting when you purchase this collection? Is an anthology a collection or just another fancy word that we need to use when we get tired or bored of calling something a collection? The internet told me that an anthology is a collection of a number of authors or artists collected together with one theme – so in this case, anthology is right! In the world of classical music “marketing”, or at least classical music “putting things together”, collections tend toward a highly scholarly bent, which makes sense since these collections aren’t being put together to sell hot dogs and they aren’t being put together by hot dog vendors. So Janice and Charles Beck, in the early 1970s, went to the Musical Heritage Society with the idea that they were going to go where no organist had gone before – they were going to memorialize the early organ works of the early American citizens. Organ music is a career for the brave or stupid – the amount of people making their living performing or writing about or teaching organ music could be put in a room in a nice hotel in a medium sized city and locked in and they’d never be heard from again. And it would take a few days for someone to realize what had happened (let’s face it, by Sunday they’d be missed). These recordings have been out of print for over 40 years, but they represent a truly crazy and wonderful journey. Researching and performing the organ works of the first American composers – some wrote even before we started to call ourselves Americans. While important to us, it’s key to remember that Bach had died before the United States became a country, so organ music wasn’t as young or undeveloped as the USA. But these folks were in a wilderness – and just the act of performing ANY organ music would seem to be a task, before you start to uncover those hardy souls who attempted to write NEW organ music. I’ll spoil any surprises if you were curious – no, there’s no hidden works here that rival the great organ works that were being written in Europe, and nothing that would make you think someone might have earned a trip to peek over the masters’ shoulder. But – what you hear the glimpses of a new vocabulary. The works here are all short works – no organ symphonies, one sonata, but mostly hymns for the initial audiences – churchgoers of a particularly Puritanical bent. But they were driven by a desire that matched the guys in Philly and Washington and Boston and Saratoga and Fort Ticonderoga who were distracted from making music because they were fighting against the British in a very unfriendly manner. Then after that unpleasantness left, we see a flowering in Volume 2 as composers attempt to set down roots that will tell the world that this new country has its own identity, and it would need to be expressed in musical ideas. So I’m not certain if this anthology is meant for continuous and background play – almost certainly not, after the initial go through. But as a item to be lingered over, to be thought about and examined, there might not be a more refreshing and helpful series of recordings offered.

TRACK LISTING

VOLUME 1:

1 ANONYMOUS: General Burgoyne's March 02:11
2 ANONYMOUS: Brandywine Quick-Step 01:06
3 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: My Days have Been So Wondrous Free 01:17
4 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: The Toast 00:51
5 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: Beneath A Weeping Willow's Shade 02:11
6 FRANCIS HOPKINSON: Come Fair Rosina, Come Away 01:28
7 JOHN CHRISTOPHER MOLLER: Sinfonia in E-Flat Major 04:19
8 WILLIAM BILLINGS: Chester 01:05
9 WILLIAM BILLINGS: Conquest 01:25
10 WILLIAM BILLINGS: Jargon 01:01
11 WILLIAM BILLINGS: When Jesus Wept 01:58
12 JAMES LYON: 19th Psalm 01:02
13 ALEXANDER REINAGLE: Minuet and Gavotte in A Major: I. Minuet 01:58
14 ALEXANDER REINAGLE: Minuet and Gavotte in A Major: II. Gavotte 00:44
15 WILLIAM SELBY: 10 Voluntaries: VII. Voluntary in A Major 03:16
16 PIERRE LANDRIN DUPORT: Minuet in B-Flat Major 02:14
17 PIERRE LANDRIN DUPORT: Minuet in F Major 02:37
18 JAMES BREMNER: Trumpet Air in D Major 01:35
19 VICTOR PELISSIER: Waltz in A Major 01:27
20 JOHN PALMA: Lesson in B Major 02:00
21 JAMES HEWITT: Nahant Waltz in D Major 01:39
22 ANONYMOUS: Washington's March 02:08/PHILE: The President's March

VOLUME 2:

1 HORATIO PARKER: Five Short Pieces, Op. 68: 2. Slumber-song 02:58
2 HORATIO PARKER: Organ Sonata in E-Flat Major, Op. 65: III. Allegretto 03:18
3 HORATIO PARKER: Five Short Pieces, Op. 68: 4. Arietta in C Minor 03:02
4 HORATIO PARKER: Four Compositions, Op. 36: 3. Fugue in C Minor 03:59
5 ARTHUR FOOTE: Seven Compositions for Organ, Op. 71: 4. Canzonetta in A Minor 05:10
6 CHARLES WHITEFIELD CHADWICK: Pastorale in E-Flat Major 03:12
7 GEORGE FREDERIC BRISTOW: Six Pieces for Organ, Op. 45: 1. Impromptu - Voluntary in F Major 02:12
8 GEORGE FREDERIC BRISTOW: Six Pieces for Organ, Op. 45: 4. Impromptu - Voluntary in G Minor 03:21
9 GEORGE FREDERIC BRISTOW: Six Pieces for Organ, Op. 45: 6. Impromptu - Voluntary in C Major 01:54
10 JOHN KNOWLES PAINE: Two Preludes for Organ, Op. 19: 2. Prelude in B Minor 08:42
11 JOHN KNOWLES PAINE: Two Sets of Variations for Organ, Op. 3: 1. Concert Varations on the Austrian Hymn in F Major 09:50

LINER NOTES

OUR REVIEW

First off - you know who you are - you're going to love this for two reasons. It's been out of print for 40 years, and you are the person who will buy any organ compilation that comes along. However, if you're not that person, this collection will be a helpful musicialogical tour guide. You'll never be able to listen start to finish - but a little at a time gives you a sense that early musical pioneers - quirky, original, inspired - brought us to our future. --David White

LISTEN - BILLINGS: CHESTER

Poster

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JANICE BECK