Stanley R. Avery (1897 – September 17, 1967) was an American composer, choirmaster and organist at St. Mark's Church for 40 years. He wrote many pedagogical pieces for piano, and some of his songs and works for organ were published during his life. His compositions were performed by the Minneapolis, Duluth and Chicago symphony orchestras.
Avery was born in Yonkers, New York, where he studied organ, musical composition and choir-training. He also studied organ and musical composition in Berlin, before returning to Yonkers, where he was an organist from 1896 to 1910. He moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he became a choirmaster and organist at St. Mark's Church (now Cathedral) from 1910 to 1950. He was a member of the first class to register at the American Conservatory in Fontainebleau, France, in 1921.
In Minneapolis, he was a member of the faculty of MacPhail School of Music from 1919 to 1966, and the director of music at Blake School for Boys (1934–43) and conductor of civic pageants.
I came across the "Nocturne in F Minor" sometime in early December, but put it aside to concentrate on Advent and Christmas. I keep wondering what it was like, and I did it today, thinking that's actually quite a good piece.
It was published by G. Schirmer in 1920. It is dedicated: "To Samuel A. Baldwin, College of the City of New York".
Samuel Baldwin (1862-1949) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota and was a student of Gustav Merkel, and graduated from the Royal Conservatory in Dresden in 1885. He was organist of several New York City churches, and was chairman of the music department at City College, beginning in 1932.
Avery's "Nocturne" is brooding and moody in an expressive way, and the harmonies and melodies are quite passionate. A lighter and brighter middle section gives good contrast before returning to the opening material, and ending with an expressive coda.
The score is attached below, as well as two photos of Stanley Avery, and one of St. Mark's Cathedral.