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.
Yesterday, January 11th was the 60th anniversary of Rowley's death. (I had gotten the days mixed up and thought it was the 12th.)
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 ostracized by the parish clergy, and was forced to leave his position.
Rowley, who had always been devout was devastated by their treatment of him, and it ended his "participation" in organized religion. It also essentially ended his playing the organ, and it seems that almost all of his organ pieces were probably NEVER actually played by him.
"Fileuse" is a lovely miniature that depicts the spinner at the spinning wheel. Despite some "English fingerprints," this piece could just as easily come from Brittany! The piece was published by Schott in 1932, as part of the "Contemporary English Organ Album." The work is dedicated: "To I. A. Raybould, Esq."
Notice how Rowley achieves the "variations in speed" of the wheel. He begins with quarter notes, then eights', than triplets, than sixteenths, which is where most of the piece remains. A very clever and successful effect!
The score is attached below, as well as a few photos of St. Alban's Church, and a photo of Rowley, taken during his time at St. Alban's.