Richard (Irven) Purvis (August 25, 1913 – December 25, 1994) was an American organist, composer, conductor and teacher.
He entered the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia in 1934. He was initially taught organ by Alexander McCurdy and conducting by Fritz Reiner. Further studies were with Josef Levine, Edward Bairstow and Marcel Dupré.
During World War II, while serving as a bandmaster, Purvis was captured and held as a prisoner of war for six months.
From 1947 through 1971, Purvis held the position of Organist and Master of Choristers at Grace Cathedral, where he helped to form a cathedral school for boys, ensuring the continuation of the all male choir tradition. He was also organist at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor. Upon his retirement from Grace Cathedral, he continued to compose, teach and give recitals into his 70’s. He died on December 25, 1994 at the age of age of 81.
"Poème Mystique" is the sixth of "Seven Chorale Preludes" published by Carl Fischer Inc. in 1949. It is dedicated : "To Sally Harris."
The work is based upon a melody, named "Manna," by Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869). Born in New Orleans, LA, he was a child prodigy as a pianist. It is said that both Chopin and Liszt proclaimed that he would be "King of Pianists" some day, although I confess that I have never heard of him.
This is quite a rare hymn, and is probably better known by the name "Mercy," but even this is one that I've never heard, although you'll think you know it. :-)
The work is full of atmosphere, and an excellent example of the composer's "almost theater organ style."
The registration that Purvis calls for had to be somewhat reworked on this organ, but all in all, I think the effect is good.
Photos of Richard Purvis, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, and of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco are attached below.
The hymn text is given in the First Comment.
You may contact me by Direct Message if you are interested in the score.