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Prelude Improvisation (Four Pieces for the Organ, No. 1)

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (03/02/16)
Composer: Archer, J. Stuart
Sample Producer: Lavender Audio
Sample Set: Hereford Cathedral Willis Organ
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Early Twentieth Century
John Stuart Archer was born 19th Nov 1866, at Kensington, London, and died 21st Mar 1954, Paddington, London. Despite his importance on the British organ scene, he was not an academic musician, but rather, an engineer with an interest in chemistry. The only other thing I can tell you about him was the he went by the nickname of "Blackie". Looking at some of his compositions, it's really rather hard to think of him as an amateur. He had a good mastery of "how" to write for the organ, and his works ALWAYS sound great. This one is no exception. As you will hear, his harmonies are quite conventional, but their "use" is what makes his music work so well.

I recently discovered that his entire "church career" was centered around London. He served parishes in Wimbeldon, and was John Ireland's assistant at St. Luke's in Chelsea for awhile. His final (?) church position was at the Third Church of Christ Scientist in London. This struck me as a BIG surprise, although while his music is distinctly English, it really doesn't "feel" all that Anglican.

"Four Pieces for the Organ" were published by Stainer & Bell in 1913. The four pieces are each highly unique, and most of them set forward some significant "technical" issues for the organist.

The first, "Prelude Improvisation" is in a warm, F major, and seemed to me as having a "sunny Italian feel" to it. The piece is much more "structured" than the title might imply, and the work is dedicated: "To my friend J. M. Courage, Esq." I think that dedication most likely serves for the set of four, rather than just this title.

The score is attached below, as well as a picture of J. Stuart Archer.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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