Sir William Henry Harris (28 March 1883-6 September 1973) was born in Fulham, London and died in Petersfield. He was a chorister of Holy Trinity, Tulse Hill. At the age of 14, he took up a "flexible" position as Assistant Organist at St David's Cathedral in Wales, followed at 16 by a scholarship to the Royal College of Music where he was Professor of Organ and Harmony from 1921 to 1955. He was organist at St Augustine's Church, Edgbaston from 1911 to 1919 and concurrently of Assistant Organist at Lichfield Cathedral followed in 1919 by becoming Organist successively at New College and in 1929 Christ Church, Oxford, moving to St. George's Chapel, Windsor in 1933. He was affectionately named "Doc H" by his choristers.
Harris is best remembered for his Anglican church music, though his main achievements were as a choir-trainer. His most famous works are the anthems "Faire is the heaven" (1925) and to a lesser extent "Bring us, O Lord God" (1959), both for unaccompanied double choir, and "Strengthen ye the weak hands" (1949) for choir and organ. He wrote a number of significant organ works such as the "Sonata in A Minor," and the "Fantasy on Campion's Tune - By Babylon's Streams", but these are rarely heard. His most famous organ works is "Flourish for an Occasion" which he wrote while at Windsor.
"Improvisation on the 'Old 124th'" was published by Stainer & Bell in 1925. It is a rather long work, written in multi-sections, that honestly reminded me of a "Bach cantata treatment." This may sound odd, by all of these "English guys" were Bach scholars (alla early 20th century) and often incorporated this influence into their works.
This piece is dedicated "To Dr. Henry Ley" (1887-1962) who was organist at Christ Church, Oxford at the time of the dedication.
I'll leave it to the listener to decide whether they "like" the piece or not. It is a VERY rare one to be sure!
The score is attached below, as well as 2 photos of Doc H and 2 of H.G. Ley.
SEE FIRST COMMENT!