William Thomas Best (13 August 1826 — 10 May 1897) studied at Carlisle Cathedral under John Norman and Abraham Young. Organist of the Pembroke Road Chapel, Liverpool, 1840-55; the Church for the Blind, Liverpool, 1847; the Royal Panopticon, Leicester Square, London, 1853-54; Lincoln’s Inn Chapel, 1854; St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London, 1855; St. George’s Hall, Liverpool, 1855-94; Wallasey Parish Church, Birkenhead, 1860-63; Holy Trinity, Liverpool, 1863; West Derby Parish Church, 1879. Engaged in 1871 to give recitals at the Royal Albert Hall (stayed for only a short time). Solo Organist at the Handel festival at the Crystal Palace. Opened the organ in Sydney Town Hall, 1890. Was one of the greatest English Organists of his time. Received a Civil List pension of £100 per annum. Composed church services, anthems, organ pieces, &c. b. Carlisle, England, Aug. 13th, 1826; d. Liverpool, May 10th, 1897 (buried in Childwell Churchyard).
Best was certainly the most famous British organist of the time, and was proclaimed by none other than Franz Liszt to be THE greatest virtuoso on ANY instrument!
This work is the fifth in the collection of "Twelve Short Preludes on Old English Psalm-Tunes, and I think it's the jewel of the collection. This well-known melody was composed by William Croft (1678-1727). Most of us will know this as the tune "Hannover" (1720), and paired with the words, "O worship the King."
In this performance, the full Swell is played above the tune in the Pedal, which uses full pedal, including the reeds and 32' Open.
I also coupled the Great 16' tuba, just to get a bit more weight.
This brilliant "toccata" is very much like a mini version of a chorale fantasia by C.H.H. Parry, and is NOT all that easy to play!
Despite the fact that these are short pieces, there is a lot of music in a short space of time.
Photos of Best and Croft are attached below, as well as the great Willis organ in St. George's Hall, Liverpool.