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.
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.
In working towards the ultimate conclusion of the complete organ works of Alec Rowley, I discovered that I had not done this collection, "A Book of Voluntaries" published by Edwin Ashdown Limited in 1953. At first I thought, "Well, this will probably be a very boring book of easy sight-readers!." but I was very wrong.
The music is excellent, and shows the many sides and styles of Rowley to perfection! I'm sorry I missed this group before, but glad I found it now!
The fourth piece, "For a Solemn Occasion" (Andante maestoso) is in 4/4 time in the key of D major. It is based upon a five quarter-note motive in the Pedal, but it is anything but square! Why? Well, put four notes to the bar, and five notes to the phrase, which is played essentially continuously together, and we get a sort of "melodic displacement" which Rowley really uses to great effect! Again, modulations figure prominently, but the effect is one of a continuous sense of "unfolding," rather than just a clever switching of tonalities.
In the last few phrases, I "filled out" the chords a bit, as I wanted to counter-balance the bright sounds of the organ by producing a "wider" feeling.
The score is attached below, as well as a MIDI file, and a photo of Alec Rowley.
Several people have asked for registration suggestions in playing this organ, and now you can see my registrations and how I used the instrument.
I will soon be reviewing this fine sample set for The Barde.