Philip Frederick Wright James (May 17, 1890 – November 1, 1975) was an American composer, conductor and music educator.
James was born in Jersey City, New Jersey. At an early age he began piano, violin and theory lessons, and served as choirboy in several New Jersey churches. From 1904 to 1909 he studied organ with J. Warren Andrews and in 1907 began advanced harmony and counterpoint lessons with Homer Norris. He also studied composition with, as well as organ with Joseph Bonnet and Alexandre Guilmant in Paris.
In World War I James played in and subsequently became bandleader of the American Expeditionary Forces Headquarters Band.
In 1922 he co-founded and became the first conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, and in 1923, began a long teaching career at New York University, serving as head of the music department from 1934-1956.
Though he remained active as a composer until his death in 1975, James' larger-scale compositions were infrequently played after the mid-twentieth century. However several of his early sacred compositions, including "Meditation a Ste. Clotilde" for organ and the anthem "By the Waters of Babylon" remain in the sacred repertoire.
This work was published in 1924 by Carl Fischer, Inc. It is described as "A free transcription for piano by John Tasker Howard," arranged brilliantly for the organ by James.
John Tasker Howard (November 30, 1890 – November 20, 1964) was an early American music historian, radio host, writer, lecturer, and composer. His "Our American Music," published in 1931, was an early general history of music in the United States. He was the curator in the Music Division of the New York Public Library from 1940 to 1956.
"The First Nowell" is one of those carols that belongs in that season between Christmas Day and the Epiphany, so, we're on time!
This version is brilliant to play and to hear, so, I'm sure you'll like it.
The score is attached below, as well as photos of Philip James and John Tasker Howard.