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. As a pianist he often broadcast duets with Edgar Moy. He died on 11 January 1958.
Many of his organ solos are brief and simple: chorale preludes, genre pieces, toccatas, marches and voluntaries suitable for the small organ and less experienced player. Sometimes he brought out more ambitious recital pieces, like the Heroic Suite of 1921, the Sonata in A minor and two symphonies in B minor and F major published late in his life, but we do not encounter these nowadays.
By this time, ANY visitor to the Concert Hall will have become familiar with Rowley's name! I've sort of made it my "project" to do many of his organ works, and this one is one of his best. This work was uploaded the other day by our talented member, Martin Kondizella. As much as it is not my intention to "step on anyone's toes," I was not going to leave Advent without uploading this one.
"Fantasia on 'Veni, Emmanuel'" was published by Novello in 1942, and it shows Rowley in a dramatic, improvisatory mood. The arresting harmonies, and rhapsodic passages keep the excitement going, but not without finding chance for a beautiful quiet middle section, which shimmers with almost magical harmonies.
The work is dedicated to Herbert Arthur Chambers (1880-1967), who was well-known as a skilled arranger and did much work for Novello.
This is Rowley at his best, and brings the Advent season to a resounding and uplifting conclusion.
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Alec Rowley.
This upload continues my daily presentation of at least one piece, having begun with the Advent Sunday, and continuing each day through the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.