Every so often, I try to find something of a "test piece," seeing if it is possible to make a very "awkward" score a musical success. I leave it to the listener to determine whether or not I have been successful.
Jacques Blumenthal (4 October 1829 – 17 May 1908) was a German pianist and composer. Born in Hamburg, he began his musical studies at an early age, receiving instruction from Friedrich Wilhelm Grund, Carl Maria von Bocklet, and Simon Sechter. In 1846 he entered the Conservatoire de Paris.
In 1848 Blumenthal settled in London, where he became the pianist to Queen Victoria. The position contributed to his demand as a teacher in London society, and he prospered greatly. Blumenthal also composed a number of works; his short piano pieces and songs achieved considerable popularity, though his efforts at larger pieces did not meet with similar success.
Originally published in 1854, "Le chemin du paradis" was a sacred song (?), that the composer arranged (?) as a piano solo. This arrangement was done by English organist,
Dr. William Joseph Westbrook (1831-1894), Mus.B. (Cantab, 1876), Mus.D. (Cantab, 1878). Pupil of R. Temple. Organist of St. Bartholomew’s, Bethnal Green, London, 1849-51; St. Bartholomew’s, Sydenham, London, 1851-84; co-organist of the Crystal Palace, London, 1860. Cofounder of the Musical Standard, 1862; conducted the South Norwood Musical Society, 1865-78. Composed cantatas, anthems, songs, organ pieces, and organ textbooks.
Nowadays he is much more well-known for his numerous transcriptions.
The difficulty in this piece is the "solo song" style. In order to make it work on the organ, it must be "flexible." The someone fragmented nature makes it difficult to keep together.
I suspect this hasn't been performed in ANY format for MANY years. Who knows, this may be THE last performance it will receive.
Score attached below, as well as photos of Blumenthal, and a photo of St. Bartholomew's Church, Sydenham, where Westbrook played.