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Improvisation on the "Eighth Psalm Tone"

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Uploaded by: Agnus_Dei (01/07/19)
Composer: Titcomb, Everett
Sample Producer: Milan Digital Audio
Sample Set: Salisbury Cathedral Father Willis
Software: Hauptwerk IV
Genre: Mid-20th century
The music of Everett Titcomb (1884-1968) occupies a unique niche in the catalogue of sacred organ and choral works by 20th-century Anglican composers in the United States. His compositional voice was clearly influenced by the Bostonian giants of his youth (Eugene Thayer, Dudley Buck, George Chadwick, Horatio Parker--who's mother once had Titcomb as a border) as well as his affinity for French music; yet at the same time his work is informed by his vast knowledge and understanding of plainchant and the polyphonic style of the 15th and 16th century Italians. An Anglo-Catholic who spent fifty years nearly to the day (1910-1960) as organist and choirmaster at Boston's Church of St. John the Evangelist in Bowdoin Street, his best organ works are based on plainchant tunes making them of more value to the Roman Catholic organist of the time than to the majority of Episcopalian ones and some of his best polyphony is in the form of Latin motets which while used at St. John's and other Anglo-Catholic parishes were perfectly at home sung at a Roman Mass.

Titcomb tends to be known for a handful of works--some of which are decidedly mediocre--which are quite popular with volunteer church choirs while his better work goes largely unplayed, unsung, and unheard.

"Improvisation on 'The Eighth Psalm Tone'" was published by H. W. Gray in 1959 as No. 867 in the "St. Cecilia Series". It is based the eighth Gregorian psalm-tone, and dedicated: "To my friend, Dr. Max Miller, FAGO" as well-known Boston organist and teacher.

This piece shows Titcomb at his best, and bear his strong musical fingerprints. It's effective, passionate and colorful.

Again, I recommend using his registration "as a guide." Despite all the strong points of this piece, it can come off very flat if you're not careful.

I think my version sounds more like "The Battle of Britain," but I leave it for the listener to judge.

The score is attached below, as well as a photo of Titcomb and the organ he played.
Performance: Live
Recorded in: Stereo
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