The Rowley Riot Returns - and in a BIG way!
Alec Rowley was born in London on 13 March 1892, teacher, composer, organist, pianist, lecturer and writer, who studied at the RAM with Frederick Corder and where he won sundry scholarships and prizes. He was an organist at several London churches including, during the Second World War, St Margaret's, Westminster. He died on 11 January 1958 while playing tennis.
Rowley was a superb teacher, who did much to assist the student. Unfortunately, this labeled him as a "writer of children's music" in the eyes of some.
He was a fine organist, have gained his FRCO by the time he was 16. His largest organist position was at St. Alban's, Teddington, a large and important church. It was during his time at this church that Rowley married and then divorced. Divorce for someone working in the church was not tolerated, and Rowley was forced to leave his position.
Many of Rowley's later works were probably never played by him, and it's possible weren't played at all, or only a few times.
This one composed in 1914 when Rowley was 22, surely must have been played by him, and shows all the brilliance, color and enthusiasm that are part of his style.
The title of this is quite "deceptive," as the term "festal" would seem to mean more "celebratory." However, the passionate, mostly minor tonality, is more a "dramatic" prelude, as oppose to being a "joyful" one.
This piece, dedicated: "To F. G. Shuttleworth, Esq." dates from the same year as the start of World War I, but I'm guessing this was before the start of that tragic episode.
This piece will take you on something of a wild ride! There are MANY piston-pushers in this, which really adds a lot to the difficulties involved.
I think the Hill sounds very heroic in this, and I think AR would be pleased!
The score is attached below, and several photos of Rowley & the churches at which he served, including St. John the Divine, where Rowley was organist when he composed Festal Prelude.