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 fifth piece, "For a Festive Occasion" (Con moto) is a neat piece, but it's very tricky to get it right, as there are MANY opportunities to miss some of the "sticky" sections. Starting in the key of C major, it doesn't rest there for long! The toccata-like sections are not like the great French toccatas, but more like the writings of other 1950's English organist composers such as Henry Coleman or Norman Gilbert.
There is a central section which is quieter and more pastorale in nature, enhanced by the colorful and subtle harmonies. T
This leads back to the opening toccata material, but after a grand climax, the piece gradually falls away until reaching a quiet ending, played upon the Swell Hautboy.
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.