Reviews Robert Matthew-Walker in The Organ:
Dudley Buck (1839-1909) was one of the most important American composers for the organ of the 19th-century, and his music is not only now relatively frequently heard in the USA but also is encountered in European recital programmes from time to time. He was a genuine master of the instrument, and the two major works on this outstanding new CD demonstrate that he was an original voice in American music of the period. His early Continental training at Leipzig and Dresden meant he could not fail to come under the influence of Mendelssohn - which we can observe in the splendid Opus 22 Sonata (a most winning Scherzo), but also of Bach - the lengthy subject for the concluding Fugue in that work is superbly worked, but the one-time immensely popular Star Spangled Banner variations prove that he was one of the first genuinely American composers who looked to their native land for inspiration. I am certain that Charles Ives would have known Buck's work, which may well have inspired his own Variations on 'America' (see the feature analysis of that score in this issue starting on page 26). The Second Sonata is even more individual than the first, although it is less immediately appealing on the surface, and the Pedal Studies are worth consideration as expressive music other than mere technical exercises.
In James Hammann we have an organist-scholar of the highest quality and his performances throughout are uniformly of an exceptional standard. He plays the E & GG Hook organ dating from 1863, now beautifully restored in Quincy, Illinois. It is a perfect instrument for this music, and the recording quality by Peter Nothnagle is most excellent. The striking cover - a 19th-century painting of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California - is also worth mentioning. This is, in its way, a most important record and I commend it very highly indeed.
James Hammann, Organist, plays the 1866 E. & G. G. Hook Organ of three manuals relocated to St. John's Episcopal Church, Quincy, Illinois, by Quimby Pipe Organ Builders of Warrensburg, Missouri, and tonally restored as built, with additions and mechanical restoration and rebuilding.
The United States’ booming 19th-century growth in population, geographic expansion, industry, and culture placed the greatly talented Dudley Buck (1839-1909) in the right place at the right time. Born into an affluent family of Hartford, Connecticut, Buck’s musical reputation flourished as a concert organist and as a prolific composer of great skill, adapting his Continentally-trained talent to please Amercan audiences, with widely heralded success and important musical posts in Boston, Chicago, and New York.
Organ Works by Dudley Buck (1839-1909)
Grand Sonata in E-Flat, Op. 22, in four movements
Rondo-Caprice, Op. 35
The Star-Spangled Banner Concert Variations, Op. 23
Studies in Pedal Phrasing, Op. 28
No. 1 Moderato
No. 2 Andante Espressivo
No. 8 Andante quasi Allegretto
No. 14 Allegro moderato
Sonata No. 2, Op. 77, in three movements
Why I Recorded Works of Dudley Buck by James Hammann
My interest in historic American organbuilding and the music written for these instruments dates to my meeting of one of the founders of the Organ Historical Society, Homer Blanchard, during my undergraduate years at Ohio Wesleyan University. His enthusiasm for the pipe organ in general and historic American organs in particular helps motivate me to this day. The late Thomas M. Kuras, composer, organist, musician, and musicologist extraordinaire, shared with me his latest “finds” as he systematically culled through the music holdings of the Detroit Public Library. Among this music were many selections by Dudley Buck. Robin Dinda and I shared a fascination and interest in Buck’s music during our years of doctoral study at The University of Michigan. It was Robin’s performance of the Grand Sonata in E-flat that inspired me to learn this composition. William Osborne’s biography of Clarence Eddy has helped in my understanding of this important artistic era. Finally, N. Lee Orr’s fine biography of Dudley Buck has helped me focus and given me much material for the booklet notes that accompany this recording. To these musician/scholars in particular, and to all of the members of the Organ Historical Society, I owe a large debt of gratitude.
This recording was made possible by a research grant from The University of New Orleans, a generous contribution from Patrick J. Murphy and Associates, Organbuilders; and by technical support and a donation from Quimby Pipe Organs, Inc.
James Hammann is Acting Chair of the Music Department at The University of New Orleans. He teaches organ, music theory, music history and class piano. In addition to his duties at UNO, he also serves the Chapel of the Holy Comforter as organist/choirmaster. Dr. Hammann holds degrees in organ performance and church music from Ohio Wesleyan University and The University of Michigan. His major teachers include Rexford Keller, Robert Clark, and Marilyn Mason.
Dr. Hammann’s conducting credits include a four year tenure as music director of the Allen Park Symphony Orchestra, conductor of the Southeastern Michigan Choral Society, and conductor of the Tecumseh Pops Orchestra. He is currently music director of the New Orleans Civic Symphony and directs UNO’s baroque ensemble. He was awarded the “Artist of the Year” award by the Arts Commission of Toledo, Ohio, for his founding and conducting of The Little Orchestra Society of Toledo.
Dr. Hammann has played organ recitals throughout the United States, and has given more than one hundred performances of his one- man show, “Old Bach,” where he dons costume and wig to recreate moments in the composer’s life and play representative selections on the organ and harpsichord. His four compact disks of organ music recorded on historic organs in the United States and Germany are available through the Organ Historical Society. He has played for numerous conventions of both the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society. He holds the Associate Diploma from the AGO.
Dudley Buck, Composer for His Times
by James Hammann
The veracity of the old adage that “much of success is being at the right place at the right time,” is born out when one looks at the life and career of organist and composer Dudley Buck Jr., who was born in Hartford Connecticut, on March 10, 1839. Dudley Buck, Sr., the composer’s father, had made the family fortune in shipping. Young Dudley’s family was initially opposed to his having a career in music, but much to their credit, when his abundant talent was demonstrated to them, they not only relented, but sought out the best musical education possible. Buck attended Trinity College in Hartford, for approximately three years, but then was sent in 1858 to Germany to attend the Leipzig Conservatory. This instance of the right place at the right time kept Dudley from experiencing the initial horrors of the Civil War.
The musical repertoire studied at the Leipzig Conservatory, which had been founded by Mendelssohn, leaned heavily in the direction of his works and those of his conservative contemporaries. Johann Sebastian Bach was revered, as would be expected in an institution headed by Mendelssohn, and so also formed a large part of the musical curriculum. Dudley moved from Leipzig to Dresden, in 1860, where he began organ study with Johann Gottlob Schneider. Schneider had been a pupil of one of J. S. Bach’s last organ students, Johann Kittel, and so Buck was just two generations away from this grand tradition. After a year’s study in Dresden and another spent in Paris, Buck returned to his native Hartford in 1862. He immediately immersed himself in the musical life of Hartford and began building his impressive early career as an organ recitalist and composer.
Again, timing and circumstance played a crucial role. The United States entered into an unprecedented era of expansion, prosperity, and industrialization following the Civil War. As cities and towns grew, new churches, auditoriums, and educational institutions were constructed, many being appointed with large and fine pipe organs. Dudley Buck, Jr. was again on hand, equipped with a prodigious pedal technique as a result of his German training, to give concerts on these instruments. He composed a body of organ works for these concerts which demonstrated his ability both as a composer and performer. Early-on he developed a business relationship with music publisher George Schirmer, and soon his compositions were in demand by organists throughout the country. Two sonatas, several sets of variations, transcriptions of two popular opera overtures, a characteristic piece, and two stand alone pieces of absolute music made up the majority of the organ works composed in the ten to fifteen year period that comprised the large part of his concertizing career.
Buck’s compositional style was again right on the mark for his time and place. The predominant architectural style for residences from shortly after Buck’s birth until well into the 1880’s was Italianate. While the design features originated in Europe, the style was immensely popular in both large and small houses throughout the settled parts of the United States. As practiced in the United States, the form was basically decorative wooden or stone eaves brackets, window trim, and porches added to sturdy structures of brick or wood. The interior decorations often were more elaborate and cluttered than the exterior. Dudley Buck crafted music that embodied these same stylistic features. In his music, sturdy basic forms such as sonata allegro, fugue, rondo, and theme and variation were propelled into life often using popular songs and patriotic tunes as thematic material. Chromatic decorations in the melodies and harmony softened the austere nature of the German tradition he had learned during his student days much as the stone and wooden cornices and eaves decorations did in Italianate buildings. This created a sentimental quality that made this “high musical art” more palatable to American audiences coming into contact with classical music for the first time. While most of the organ compositions demanded the fine technique and musicality that he had acquired, his choral music, while of equal compositional quality, was fashioned to be accessible and yet challenging to the large groups of amateur choral organizations that were being formed at a rapid rate throughout the country.
Buck moved to Chicago in 1869, to become the music director at St. James Episcopal Church. Chicago was rapidly becoming the financial, transportation, and industrial capital of the mid-western United States. Again, it seems as if Buck sensed the immense possibilities of positioning himself as the premiere musician in this not yet completely formed “boom town.” Using much of his recent inheritance, he built a large house and an adjacent large music studio which contained a pipe organ and his extensive music library. All proceeded according to plan until the devastating fire of 1871 which leveled much of the city including the aforementioned home and music studio. Buck, himself, was away concertizing and received the news by telegraph from his wife.
Buck relocated to Boston following the Chicago fire. He became the music director of St. Paul’s Church, a member of the faculty at the New England Conservatory, and organist for the Boston Music Hall Association, owners since 1863 of a large, German, Walcker pipe organ. German-trained Buck was a perfect “fit” for this organ that would have a large impact on organ building and playing in the United States. He moved to New York City in 1875, and would remain there for the remainder of his professional life. He assisted the famed orchestral conductor, Theodore Thomas, in his summer concerts in Central Park, and, after a time as organist at St. Anne’s Church, became director of music at Holy Trinity Church. Both of these churches were in Brooklyn, and that is where he lived. While he continued to write organ music, the larger part of his compositional output during the last quarter of the nineteenth century consisted of choral music. Capitalizing on the huge growth and interest of both sacred and secular amateur choral organizations he provided cantatas, anthems, and part songs for both situations.
Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 closed the nineteenth-century era that was named after her. Buck resigned from St. Anne’s in the next year and, after a sabbatical, directed the music for a year at Plymouth Congregational Church, a position that would serve as a final codetta to his distinguished career as a church musician. He spent his retirement years traveling with his wife in Europe and returned to the United States just weeks before his death in 1909.
Orr, N. Lee, Dudley Buck, Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 2008.
E. & G. G. Hook, Opus 326
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Quincy, Illinois
by John Speller
In 1863, the organbuilding firm of E. & G. G. Hook of Boston, Massachusetts, constructed a new organ, their Opus 326, for the Congregational Church on Shawmut Street, Boston. Many organ historians argue that the instruments built by E. & G. G. Hook during the 1860’s were among the finest instruments ever built in the United States. Opus 326 would probably have been under construction in the Hook workshop at the same time as perhaps their most celebrated organ, Opus 322, built for the Jesuit Church of the Immaculate Conception in Boston. The sound of these two instruments is in many ways very similar. The Shawmut Street church, however, soon decided that they needed a larger instrument, and in 1866, they purchased Hook Opus 398. Thus according to the history researched by the late Alan M. Laufman, the Shawmut Street church traded Opus 326 back to Hook only three years after it was installed in the church. On the other hand, during the course of rebuilding, Quimby Pipe Organs discovered that there are dates on the pipework ranging from 1862 to 1866, suggesting that the decision to buy a larger organ may have been made while Opus 326 was still under construction, so that the instrument perhaps never made it to the Shawmut Street Church after all. According to that scenario, construction would have been halted part way through and only resumed when a new customer had been found for the instrument.
In 1866, a committee from Pine Street Congregational Church in Lewiston, Maine, bought Opus 326 for their church. The Shawmut Street Church had an organ chamber, and a simple screen sufficed to enclose the organ. The Lewiston church, however, needed an organ case, and so the beautiful walnut casework that graces Opus 326 was constructed in 1866. As originally built, Opus 326 had an all-mechanical action, but in 1923, the original firm, renamed Hook, Hastings & Co. (the brothers Hook and Frank Hastings were long-deceased), rebuilt the organ, making a couple of minor tonal changes and providing an electropneumatic mechanism and a new detached console, extending the manual compass from 56 notes to 61, and the Pedal from 25 notes to 30. Hook, Hastings & Co. designated this rebuilt organ as Opus 2478.
In 1940, the Pine Street Congregational Church in Lewiston merged with the Universalist Church as the Federated Church of Lewiston, and the old Pine Street church was demolished. At this time, the Foss Street Methodist church in Biddeford, Maine, was looking for an organ and they purchased Opus 326 from the Lewiston church for $850. In 1999, the Foss Street church in Biddeford closed its doors because of a dwindling congregation; the building has since been demolished. Laufman, founder and executive director of the Organ Clearing House, realized what a fine instrument Hook Opus 326 was, and determined to rescue it. The organ was stored near Laufman’s home in Harrisville, New Hampshire, until a new owner could be found.
The new owner proved to be St. John’s Episcopal Church in Quincy, Illinois. The church signed a contract with Michael Quimby of Quimby Pipe Organs Inc. of Warrensburg, Missouri, to rebuild the organ and relocate it to their church. It is very fortunate indeed that the Hook organ was safely in Warrensburg and not in Quincy on the night of August 23, 2002, when lightning struck St. John’s and the church interior and roof, including the old pipe organ, burned to the ground. Happily, St. John’s has risen phoenix-like from the ashes, and, thanks to the acoustical consultants Kirkegaard & Associates, has gained three seconds of reverberation in the process, making it a finer building for music than it was before.
When rebuilding commenced, it was discovered that the console was of rather flimsier construction than had been thought, so Quimby Pipe Organs obtained and rebuilt a secondhand Skinner console and fitted it with a new Peterson solid-state control system. They also found that the original Swell and Choir manual slider windchests had been severely water-damaged by roof leaks in the previous church in Maine, and the decision was made to replace them with new slider windchests without slider seals, fitted with Blackinton-style electropneumatic pallets. In the interests of historical accuracy, QPO was careful to retain the same layout of the pipework on the windchests. QPO also replaced the wooden pipes of the lowest octave of the Swell 16’ Bourdon stop, which had, like the windchests succumbed to the roof leaks in the Biddeford church, with pipes from a stop by former Hook employee George Hutchings.
QPO’s head voicer, Eric Johnson, took extreme care to ensure that the voicing of the original E. & G. G. Hook pipework remained unchanged. Important in preserving the original voicing was the decision not to lower the pitch, which remains at its original A = 448. It is believed that the reeds in particular retain their original sound as voiced by George Greenleaf Hook himself, and in this respect they are a rare survival. The Oboe stop nearly did not survive. Many of the pipes were badly mutilated, so Michael Quimby instructed QPO head pipemaker Tim Duchon to make a replica stop. When he came to work on it, however, Tim said that he thought he could restore the original stop after all, and in doing so he has succeeded in saving what has proven to be an extremely attractive Oboe. George Hook’s Swell Cornopean, which has open English shallots, is fiery and brilliant. Its power is carried to the top of the keyboard in spite of the fact that it has no harmonic trebles. It is a dead-length reed, but unlike some 20th century examples, is extremely stable with regard to tuning. The Great Trumpet is of approximately equal volume but rather darker tone.
The choruses, as well as the reeds, are outstanding. All three Diapason choruses are extremely clear and brilliant in spite of being based on very generously scaled and rich-sounding unison stops. As would be expected, the Great chorus is a little louder than those of the Swell and the Choir, which are of approximately equal power but of very different character. The Swell Mixture was deliberately designed by the Hook brothers to break back more slowly than the one on the Great, so that the Swell Mixture becomes more prominent in the treble and reinforces the brilliance of the reeds. The individual flute and string registers are also noteworthy, including the slightly “nasal” sounding Keraulophone – a string stop that is very rare in organs these days – and the hauntingly beautiful Clarabella.
Although the original tonal character was meticulously preserved, QPO has nevertheless made some minor modifications to the tonal design of the organ as requested by the church. These include a swell string to replace one replaced by Hook and Hastings in 1923, low octave bass pipes to complete the Oboe and Clarinet, which previously ran only to Tenor C, a 4’ principal and 2’ Flautino in the choir, and the Pedal 4’ Octave stop.
The organ had not previously had a 16’ Pedal Bourdon, so the opportunity was taken to add one. This is another Hutchings rank and speaks on its original windchest. QPO has also added a magnificent 16’ Pedal Trombone of Victorian character, made by New York organbuilder Frank Roosevelt. The crowning glory of the instrument is the new QPO Harmonic Trumpet. The original Great Trumpet and Swell Cornopean are carefully matched in their volume and graded in their brilliance, and the new Harmonic Trumpet is specially designed to complement them.
Edited from an article by John Speller in The American Organist, Nov. 2007, and useded with permission of the author and The American Guild of Organists.
1866 E. & G. G. Hook, op. 326, Boston; 2006 Quimby Pipe Organs, Warrensburg, Mo.
1923 Hook, Hastings & Co. electrification, Op. 2478
St. John’s Episcopal Church, Quincy, Illinois
Great 61 notes, 3" wind
8' Open Diapason
16' Harmonic Trumpet (TC)*
8' Harmonic Trumpet*
4' Harmonic Clarion*
Swell 61 notes, enclosed, 3"
16' Bourdon §
8' Open Diapason
8' Stopped Diapason
8' Salicional (Hook pipes from op. 889, 1877)
4' Flûte Harmonique
8' Harmonic Trumpet (Gt.)*
Choir 61 notes, unenclosed, 3" wind
8' Unda Maris (GG, Dulciana in 1866)
4' Principal †
4' Flûte d’Amour
2' Flautino †
Pedal 30 notes, 3" wind
32' Resultant +
16' Double Open Diapason
16' Bourdon ‡ 4” wind
4' Octave †
16' Trombone ** 5” wind
8' Trumpet (ext.)**
8' Harmonic Trumpet (Gt.)
Couplers (those added after 1866 in parentheses)
Great to Pedal 8'
Swell to Pedal 8', (4')
Choir to Pedal 8'
(Choir to Pedal 4')
Swell to Great 8' (16', 4')
Choir to Great 8' (16', 4')
(Great to Choir 8')
Swell to Choir 8' (16', 4')
(Great Unison Off)
(Swell to Swell 16', 4', Unison Off)
(Choir to Choir 4')
Balanced Swell Pedal (in 1866, ratchet swell pedal with built-in release)
Crescendo Pedal, 60 stages (not present in 1866)
Combination action: 15 general, 5 each division, 99 levels, sequencer (probably Gt. and Sw. Forte and Piano set combinations in 1866)
*added new rank, 7" wind
§ water-damaged low 12 pipes replaced with Hutchings pipes
† added, using Hook pipes from the 1860s
+stop added 2006
‡ added, using Hutchings pipes and windchest
**added rank from Frank Roosevelt organ