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Thread: Organ music at IMSLP - for practical and liturgical use

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    Senior Member RobertJTh's Avatar
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    Default Organ music at IMSLP - for practical and liturgical use

    Years ago, I wrote an article for a Dutch music magazine about unknown organ music that's suited for use in church services. As we all know, IMSLP.org is a treasure trove of (unjustly) forgotten music, and for us organists, there's a lot to be found that's not just good music, but usable, practical music too.
    When I wrote the article in 2014 I had conducted a search at IMSLP for that kind of music: not too hard to play, short and concise, not employing extremes of dynamics or expression and suitable for use in both catholic and protestant services.

    Here's what I came up with. Maybe this list will be useful to both beginners and advanced church organists. Since 2014 I found a lot more music in this same vein, but I guess that's material for a part 2. And of course, if you have your own favorites from IMSLP, you're most welcome to post them in this thread.
    All the music can be found by visiting IMSLP.org and do a search for the composer's name. The pieces are in pdf format and free of copyright.

    *****

    1. Johann Albrechtsberger (1736-1809): 12 neue leichte Praeludien
    One of Albrechtsberger's many collections of preludes and fugues. Here, Beethoven's teacher shows himself to be a skillful contrapuntist.

    2. John Alcock jr. (1740-1791): 8 Easy Voluntaries
    Pretty and simple pieces from the English late-baroque period, in a new edition by Pierre Gouin, who edited a lot of unknown organ music for IMSLP.

    3. William Boyce (1711-1779): Ten Voluntaries
    A similar collection, but by a composer of higher standing, and that's noticeable in the music.

    4. Christlieb Siegmund Binder (1723-1789): 72 Organ Preludes, Volume 1
    From the same era: completely unknown but attractive organ music by a Dresden composer. It's the first part of his complete chorale preludes, in an Urtext-edition by yours truly.
    (Note: part 2 never materialized, you can blame me for that...)

    5. Moritz Brosig (1815-1887): Selected Organ Music
    5 volumes with short organ works from an unjustly forgotten romantic composer. Solid, serious and very German. Look under "collections" at Brosig's page.

    6. Giovanni Battista Cirri (1724-1808): 12 Sonate per l'Organo, op. 1
    Artful little pieces in Scarlatti style. Recommended for smaller organs.

    7. Hermann Paul Claußnitzer (1867-1924): Choralvorspiele (op. 26, 27 en 29)
    Judging on these three volumes, Claußnitzer was a gifted composer, with an evocative, personal style. Organists who find Reger's music too difficult, but still are charmed by broody German late-romanticism should give Claußnitzer a try.

    8. Michel Dachs (1876-1941): 15 Orgelstücke, op. 3
    Another forgotten late romantic. Dachs' music is bright, functional, not very original but very usable in liturgical practice.

    9. Louis-Antoine Dornel (c.1685-1765): Livre d'Orgue
    One of the more easily playable "organ books" from French baroque. Colorful and lively music.

    10. Ludwig Ebner (1858-1903): 10 Trios, op. 48
    A student of Josef Rheinberger wrote these charming exercises in trio playing, which will also serve well in church services.

    11. Michael Gotthard Fischer (1773-1829): 24 Orgelstücke, op. 9 en 10
    These two volumes offer a good first impression of the very expressive music by one of the best organ composers from the period between Mozart and Mendelssohn. They're old editions in mediocre scans but reasonably well readable. A later American edition titled "Selected Organ pieces" can't be recommended because of the many printing errors. Beggars can't be choosers, but it's a darn shame that a genial composer like Fischer hasn't been honored yet with a modern Urtext edition of his complete works.

    12. Robert Führer (1807-1861): 6 leichte Präludien für klassisches Orgelspiel
    This enigmatic composer is getting featured more and more with his simple and attractive mass compositions on the repertoire of church choirs. His organ music offers the same mix of simplicity and melodic inventiveness. His other collection "Cypressenlaub" is recommendable too.

    13. Eugène Gigout (1844-1925): 100 Pièces brèves nouvelles
    Gigout wrote this sizable volume at the end of his life, in 1921, but the music still breathes the atmosphere of French romanticism. These pieces - and Gigout's older collection "Album Gregorien" are recommended for whoever wants to play something else than always Franck's "l'Organiste".

    14. Maurice Green (1696-1755): Twelve Voluntaries
    Easily playable and usable English baroque in a fine edition by Pierre Gouin.

    15. Max Gulbins (1862-1932): 36 Short Choral Preludes, op. 16
    A collection of short chorale preludes, comparable to Max Reger's "30 Kleine Choralvorspiele" op. 135a, but even more simple.

    16. Johann Georg Herzog (1822-1908): 45 kleinere und grössere Orgelstücke, op. 45
    Herzog created a sizable orgel-oeuvre, solid and idiomatically written for the instrument. But when the then 80 years old composer wrote this volume of pieces, in 1903, his conservative style has long become an anachronism.

    17. Adolf Friedrich Hesse (1809-1863): Leichte Präludien für die Orgel
    Short, attractive pieces by an important German organ composer. See under "collections" at Hesse's page.

    18. Samuel P. Jackson (1818-1885): Organ voluntaries, book IV
    Not related to the Hollywood actor, Jackson was a minor American componist of choir and organ music. Modest yet melodious pieces in (then) popular style.

    19. Theodor Kirchner (1823-1903): Orgelkompositionen, op. 89
    Kirchner was a friend of Brahms, and his influence is noticeable in this volume of organ pieces, the only one from his pen.

    20. Padre Narciso da Milano (1672-?): Musica per Organo
    Charming early 18th century organ music by a completely unknown Italian (Milanese) priest. The likeness to the music of Domenico Zipoli is striking. Edited by Michelle Bernard.

    21. Carl Nielsen (1865-1931): 29 Little Preludes, op. 51
    The greatest Danish composer of all time wrote these wondrously beautiful organ miniatures at the end of his life, in a relative traditional style. But notwithstanding the concessions to the conservative liturgy of his time, this is unmistakably Nielsen: sober and concentrated. Music like clear spring water.

    22. Peter Piel (1835-1904): 60 Stücke für Harmonium oder Orgel, op. 85
    Not the most adventurous organ music, but solid, traditional workmanship. Piel was an important German "Kleinmeister" and representative of end of 19th century Ceacilianism.

    23. Franz S. Reidl (1853-1898): 30 Orgelstücke
    Nice and practical volume with relatively easy pieces by a forgotten composer from Munich.

    24. Ernst Friedrich Richter (1808-1879): 6 Organ Trios, op. 20
    This composer and theorist is only known today because of a footnote in Schönberg's "Harmonielehre". Yet his chorale trios are very attractive, excelling in baroque counterpoint but with enough harmonic inventiveness to show that they're not written in the 18th but in the 19th century. Rather badly scanned, alas.

    25. Joseph Renner jr. (1868-1934): 16 Tonstücke über Choral-Melodieen, op. 33
    Gregorian melodies in a romantic dressing.

    26. Wilhelm Rudnick (1850-1927): Choral-Vorspiele, op. 39, 40, 41, 69 en 70
    Late-romantic chorale arrangements, stylistically balancing between Rheinberger and Reger. A collective volume contains all five opus numbers.

    27. William Russel (1777-1813): 24 Voluntaries for the organ
    Two volumes, issued in 1804 and 1812, by a talented English composer, contemporary of Samuel Wesley, who died at a young age. His music still shows late-baroque traits, but influence from early Romanticism is noticeable already, specifically in the second volume. Downloadable in a (readable) first impression and in a new edition by Pierre Gouin.

    28. Christian Heinrich Rinck (1770-1846): 105 Organ Preludes
    A volume with varied organ pieces by this German early Romantic. To be found at Rinck's page under "collections".

    29. François Roberday (1624-1680): Fugues et Caprices
    A classical work from French baroque, with expressive melodies and lively rhythms. Contains both easy and more difficult pieces. There's a choice between the old Guilmant edition and several new ones.

    30. Josef Ferdinand Norbert Seger (1716-1782): 8 Toccatas and Fugues
    Bohemian late baroque, deliciously frivolous. In a new edition by Jolando Scarpa.

    31. Emil Sjögren (1853-1918): Legends for Organ, op. 48
    Very pretty impressionist organ music by a Swedish composer who became famous for his songs and piano pieces. The 24 preludes in this volume (one in every key) are little gems, with subtle melodic lines and sophisticated harmonics. Beautiful!

    32. William Wolstenholme (1865-1931): 7 Short Preludes and Postludes
    Two volumes with atmospheric English romantic organ music, simple yet effective.
    Last edited by RobertJTh; Sep-25-2021 at 17:54. Reason: typo hell

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    Senior Member Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    I presume you consider John Stanley, 30 voluntaries (opus 5, 6 &7) as well known; less so are the 12 concertos for organ or harpsichord - there have been some solo transcriptions.
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    Senior Member RobertJTh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dorsetmike View Post
    I presume you consider John Stanley, 30 voluntaries (opus 5, 6 &7) as well known; less so are the 12 concertos for organ or harpsichord - there have been some solo transcriptions.
    More Stanley would be welcome (his voluntaries are masterpieces of English baroque) but I don't see any of the concerto transcriptions at IMSLP?

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    Senior Member Dorsetmike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertJTh View Post
    More Stanley would be welcome (his voluntaries are masterpieces of English baroque) but I don't see any of the concerto transcriptions at IMSLP?
    Sorry, mind in neutral, the concerto transcriptions were not on IMSLP, can't remenber where they came from -(neither can Google), I do remember buying them online quite a few years ago hoping to generate MIDI files in Finalé for "playing" a virtual pipe organ - Grande Orgue
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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Very nice lists there ... thank for taking the time to inform us.

    I've been a paid subscriber of IMSLP since 2016 ... I want to support this site and I don't like the 15 second delays for downloading.

    Over the years I've found a plethora of mostly unknown composers who are, imho, every bit as great as the really well known composers.

    Yes, I wish there was more Stanley ... but I also enjoy playing the Boyse Voluntaries, too.

    One of my favorite composers is Joseph Jongen ... known primarily for his organ/orchestra grad epic work ... just played the Larghetto in Ab this past weekend for a church prelude. Lovely piece for sure.

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    Senior Member RobertJTh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Krummhorn View Post
    One of my favorite composers is Joseph Jongen ... known primarily for his organ/orchestra grad epic work ... just played the Larghetto in Ab this past weekend for a church prelude. Lovely piece for sure.
    Sure is! A little favorite of mine is the "Offertoire sur l'Alma Redemptoris Mater", which I played once at a Virgin Mary-themed recital.

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    Administrator Krummhorn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertJTh View Post
    Sure is! A little favorite of mine is the "Offertoire sur l'Alma Redemptoris Mater", which I played once at a Virgin Mary-themed recital.
    Never played that one before, although it's in my downloaded collection. I'll have to give it a run next time I'm at church for a practice session.

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