Henry George Ley MA DMus FRCO FRCM HonRAM (30 December 1887 – 24 August 1962) was an English organist, composer and music teacher.
He was born in Chagford in Devon on 30 December 1887, and was a chorister at St George’s Chapel Windsor Castle, Music Scholar at Uppingham School, Organ Scholar of Keble College Oxford (1906) where he was President of the University Musical Club in 1908, and an Exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music where he was a pupil of Sir Walter Parratt and Marmaduke Barton. He was organist at St Mary’s, Farnham Royal, from 1905–1906, and at Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford (1909–1926), Professor of organ at the Royal College of Music in London from 1919, and Precentor at Radley College and at Eton College (that is, in charge of the music in College Chapel) from 1926 to 1945. He was an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, from 1926 to 1945 and died on 24 August 1962.
He was a composer of some organ works, but mainly choral works, including a celebrated setting of the Founder’s Prayer of King Henry VI. This piece, written for King's College, Cambridge, is a classic.
"Improvisation" is the 12th piece in the "little organ book," and rather typical of Ley's "pastoral style." It definitely has many characteristics of a true improv, and shows the composers melody and harmonic fingerprints. While this is not a hard piece, I've always found something about it that makes it "awkward" and difficult to a truly "comfortable" performance of it.
It would have gone more "easily" on Salisbury, but I have a larger piece by Ley that was composed for the Hereford organ, so, I did this one on the same instrument. I did it so that it is "diapason oriented," and didn't rely on the strings until the very end.
I think I've now uploaded all the pieces from the collection, with the exception of the one by Harold Darke.
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Henry G. Ley.