John Henry Maunder (February 21, 1858 – January 21, 1920) was an English composer and organist best known for his cantata "Olivet to Calvary". He was born in Chelsea and studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London. He was organist at St Matthew’s, Sydenham 1876-7, and St Paul’s, Forest Hill 1878-9, neither of which now exists, as well as churches in Blackheath and Sutton, and accompanied concerts in the Albert Hall.
Maunder's music goes unmentioned in Baker's and Grove's dictionaries, as well as in the Oxford Companion to Music, probably because he did not emerge from the cathedral tradition. His works are characteristic expressions of the Victorian era – a style replaced by the music of Stanford, Parry, Wood and Noble, among others.
"The Caravan of the Magi" comes from the Christmas Cantata, "Bethlehem," which dates from the year 1910. It is a unique piece in that it depicts the "approach and departure", without "stopping" at the manger.
The piece is directed "to be played as a gradual crescendo and diminuendo, from the softest stop to the Full Organ and vice versa."
The "style" of Maunder's music has long since passed, but this piece has a fresh and apparently inexhaustible flow of melodic ideas and the harmonic fabric is always full of interest and color and yet never unduly complicated.
The effect is really quite remarkable in that it begins as almost inaudible, builds to a thunderous climax, and then melts away to a single pedal note at the end.
The music will certainly bring a smile to your lips, but you should remember that Maunder was absolutely "sincere and serious" in composing this!
The work was arranged for organ by E. C. Nunn.
A further "Programme Note" is given in the First Comment.
The MIDI is also included! (FUN!)
The score is attached below, but I could not even find a picture of Maunder. I did find a drawing of St. Matthew's, Sydenham, which has also long since vanished.
TOMORROW - Chartres (Noël Varié) - Richard Purvis