Richard (Irven) Purvis (August 25, 1913 – December 25, 1994) was an American organist, composer, conductor and teacher. He is especially remembered for his expressive recordings of the organ classics and his own lighter compositions for the instrument.
He entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1934. He was initially taught organ by Alexander McCurdy and conducting by Fritz Reiner. Further studies were with Josef Levine in New York, Dr. Edward Bairstow in England and Marcel Dupré in France. During World War II, while serving as a bandmaster, Purvis was captured and held as a prisoner of war for six months.
From 1947 through 1971, Purvis held the position of Organist and Master of Choristers at Grace Cathedral, where he helped to form a cathedral school for boys, ensuring the continuation of the all male choir tradition. He was also organist at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Upon his retirement from Grace Cathedral, he continued to compose, teach and give recitals into his 70’s. He died on December 25, 1994 at the age of 81.
"A Trio of Contrasts" was published by Harold Flammer, Inc. in 1965. In the preface, Purvis says: "These three contrasts were originally written as wedding music...the first two are preludial, and the last, a recessional. In their present form they make an interesting "Suite", being highly colorful and diversified."
"Eklog" (a sort of pastoral dialogue) is an effective interplay between solo flutes and reeds. The are brief passages played on the Swell strings. The reed in the opening and closing sections is the Clarinette 8' of the Positif, while the middle section, features the Cello of the Pedale, played against the 8' & 2' flutes on the Positif.
The theme is the well-known early American hymn, "Morning Song". The first section returns, and the piece, in a modal F minor, ends in the major. It is dedicated: "For Marlan Allen."
Two photos of Richard Purvis, and one of Grace Cathedral are attached below.