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Horatio Parker: 21 Organ Works, Albert Ahlstrom, Organist - [OAR-340] $15.98

On the organ built in 1895 by Müller & Abel for St. Joseph's Church in New York City, Albert Ahlstrom plays 21 organ works by Horatio Parker, published as a set of Recital Pieces collected from all periods of Parker's career as a teacher, organist, and composer in New England, New York, and New Haven at Yale University.

Concert Piece, Op. 28, No. 2
Canzonetta, Op. 36, No. 2
Allegretto from Organ Sonata in E Minor, Op. 65
Wedding Song, Op. 20, No. 2
Pastorale, Op. 28, No. 3
Arietta, Op. 8, No. 4
Postlude, Op. 66, No. 4
Novelette, Op. 68, No. 3
Romanza, Op. 17, No. 3
Risoluto, Op. 68, No. 5
Slumber Song, Op. 68, No. 2
Festival Prelude, Op. 66, No. 1
Scherzino, Op. 66, No. 3
Impromptu, Op. 17, No. 2
Eclogue, Op. 36, No. 4
Revery, Op. 66, No. 2
Fantasie, Op. 20, No. 4
Melody and Intermezzo, Op. 20, No. 3
Fugue, Op. 36, No. 3
Canon in the Fifth, Op. 68, No. 2
Concert-Piece, No. 1, Op. 17, No. 2

Horatio Parker
The music of Horatio Parker (1863-1919) opens a door into the cheerful and optimistic world that was America at the end of the nineteenth century. Parker's music is at once familiar and engaging, as it presents tuneful melodies, bright harmonies, and catchy rhythms—all skillfully crafted into concise and logical works. Famous and well-respected in America during his lifetime, Horatio Parker wrote in a style that hearkened back to Bach, Mozart, and the early Romantics, as did most American composers of the period. As a student in Munich, Germany, of the renowned Josef Rheinberger, Parker learned classical forms and strict fugal techniques: techniques which Parker continued to use in his compositions throughout his life.
Unfortunately for the future popularity of Parker's music, however, most of it was composed for choral singing societies, operas, musicals and the church -- institutions all of which were soon to be radically transformed. After the First World War, the choral singing societies, which had been prominent and numerous, practically disappeared; the rambling vaudeville-like operas and musicals he had written fell into disfavor, and also the style of church music became quite different.

As is well known, the First World War brought great changes to American society and culture. The Victorian and Edwardian eras favored an aesthetic that gathered a wide variety of surprisingly divergent styles, as opposed to originality, and viewed classical music as a means to create a deep sense of abiding values, rather than simply to amuse.

Most Americans, before the war, lived in small towns and cities that were organized around church and family. Social progress, such as the ending of slavery, the passage of child labor laws, women's suffrage, pure food and drug acts, and the control of industrial monopolies, was fresh in the air and everyone believed that further progress was inevitable. Edward Bellamy, in his immensely popular and influential novel Looking Backward (1888), anticipated with many others the perfect society by the year 2000 A. D.
Basking in the provincial prosperity of a New England which still resonated to the values of the Transcendental Movement, the composers Edward MacDowell, Mrs. H. H. A. Beach, George Chadwick, Arthur Foote, and Horatio Parker, composed bright and serene music that contentedly looked forward to the coming Utopia.
Born on September 15, 1863 in Auburndale, Massachusetts, a rural western suburb of Boston, Horatio Parker from an early age held a series of organ positions which led to the major churches of New York and Boston. In 1894 he became a professor of music at Yale University and established a curriculum which became the model for other schools in America. He also organized the nation's first community orchestra and became a well known speaker on its cultural life. As a mark of his fine teaching, several composition students of Parker later became well known — among them Charles Ives, the first American composer to achieve international fame.

Parker's best known work is the oratorio Hora Novissirna, a setting for soloists, chorus, and orchestra of texts by the medieval monk Bernard de Morlaix of the monastery at Cluny. Though primarily a diatribe on the evils of human existence, the first part of "De Contempt u Mundi" is an ecstatic description of eternal life in the celestial city. After its translation into English in the late nineteenth century, this text became very popular in an America which had considered itself, since the time of the Puritans, to be the New Jerusalem, the City of God being formed in the New World.

Hora Novissima premiered in 1893 with great success, received a performance in England in 1899 at the Three Choirs Festival in Worcester, and continued the longest of any of Parker's works in the general repertoire. For this work, Parker received an honorary doctorate from Cambridge University in 1902.

Parker's organ music reflects his background as a respected concert organist. Though he never wished to be active as a recitalist, he did give numerous highly acclaimed recitals, and was well known for his improvisational abilities. Parker's organ works include a large number of fairly short works which describe a particular mood or subject, as well as a lengthy sonata for organ and a concerto for organ and orchestra. Recital Pieces (a collection of 21 original compositions for the Organ) is an anthology of these shorter works published in 1915. It presents a colorful variety of pieces from all periods of Parker's life, including the Allegretto from the Organ Sonata in E-Flat Minor, and demonstrates clearly Parker's imagination and sure craftsmanship.

Somewhat neglected during the recent past, the music of Horatio Parker is once again arousing considerable interest. In 1995, Wayne Leupold Editions announced a new edition of the Parker works. In his music, Parker reflects the buoyant enthusiasm of an America filled with ragtime, the first Kitty Hawk flights, and a host of other marvels. As a leading composer of his time, Parker gives us a very satisfying idea of the cheerful music America was listening to as it entered the twentieth century.
—Albert Ahlstrom

The 1895 Müller & Abel Organ, St. Joseph's Church, New York
St. Joseph's Church of Yorkville is located on the upper east side of Manhattan, close to Gracie Mansion, a country home built in 1799 which is presently the official residence of the Mayor of New York City. St. Joseph's, a parish without boundaries, was founded in 1873 to serve the German-speaking Catholics of New York. The German Romanesque building, constructed in 1895, has several stained glass windows which are the work of the Royal Vienna Art Society. Under the guidance of the Reverend Gerard J. DiSenso, pastor of St. Joseph's, and through the generous gifts of parishioners, especially Philip and Faith Geier, the church and the 1895 Miiller & Abel organ were restored.

The Roosevelt Organ Works of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore commanded the leading reputation among America's many organbuilders from the late 1870s to the early '90s, building instruments for the most prestigious churches throughout the nation, even challenging the dominance of regional organbuilders in New England. Oscar Müller (1852-?) and George Abel (1847-?), both German immigrants, were employed in crucial manufacturing positions by the Roosevelt firm beginning in the early 1880s. When Frank Roosevelt closed the firm at the peak of its popularity in 1893, at least three significant firms succeeded from it. Patent rights and many employees went to the Farrand & Votey Co. of Detroit. (A restored Farrand & Votey organ is heard on Raven OAR-330 Guilmant in America.) Roosevelt's plant superintendent in New York and Baltimore, Adam Stein, established a firm in Baltimore. (Several of his organs survive, including three heard on the Organ Historical Society's OHS-91 Historic Organs of Baltimore.}

Likewise, Müler and Abel established their factory in New York City, building some 62 organs 1893-1903. Before working for Roosevelt, Oscar Müller had been mployed by the Barckhoff Organ Co. of Salem, Ohio, for two years. George Abel worked in Ludwigsburg, Germany, for the E. F. Walcker Co., then worked briefly as a cabinetmaker when he arrived in the United States before joining the Roosevelt firm. The few remaining Müller & Abel organs have a more classical tonal characteristic than the Roosevelt organs upon which they are modelled, but retain many fine Roosevelt traits, including consoledesign and use of the distinctive typeface created for the Roosevelt firm by George Ashdown Audsley.

In one important sense, the Müller & Abel organs differ substantially: the design of the windchest mechanism was entirely original so as to be quick and responsive, to allow wind to enter pipes more gently than on less sophisticated designs, and, unfortunately, difficult to rebuild. Nonetheless, the organ at St. Joseph's survives essentially intact, though its original console was removed many years ago, apparently at the same time that the tubular-pneumatic action became electropneumatic. In the 1994 restoration, organbuilder John Randolph provided new console equipment and, with original console controls long lost, based console nomenclature on stop names marked on various pipes or parts within the organ. Unlike the ubiquitous mostly-enclosed Great divisions of other ca. 1890 Müller & Abel, Roosevelt, and Farrand &. Votey organs, the Great of the Müller & Abel at St. Joseph's always has been unenclosed.
William T. Van Pelt

1895 Müller & Abel Organ, restored 1994 by John L. Randolph Pipe Organs
St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church, New York
2,115 pipes; 31 sets of pipe comprised of 38 ranks
16' Open Diapason
16' Bourdon
8' Open Diapason
8' Gamba
8' Doppel Flute
8' Dulciana
4' Octave
4' Hohl Flöte
2-2/3' Quint
2' Super Octave
V Mixture
8' Trumpet
Gt 16 4 Unison
Sw to Gt 16 8 4
16' Bourdon
8' Open Diapason
8' Spitz Flöte
8' Stopped Diapason
8' Salicional
8' Aeoline
4' Flauto Traverso
4' Gemshorn
2' Flageolet
IV Cornet
8' Cornopean
8' Oboe
Sw 16 4 Unison
16' Open Diapason
16' Bourdon
10-2/3' Quint
8' Octave
8' Cello
4' Super Octave
16' Trombone
Gt to Ped 8 4
Sw to Ped 8 4

Albert Ahlstrom
Albert Ahlstrom is active as an organist and as a composer. He has performed, and his music has been performed, in concert and on radio across Europe and the United States. As recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship, he studied improvisation and composition with Xavier Darasse in France, and has returned to Europe to present concerts, most notably a program of contemporary organ music during the American Music Festival presented by Radio France, Paris.
The recipient of several ASCAP awards, Albert Ahlstrom has composed more than sixty works (all of which have been performed) for orchestras, chamber groups, voice, organ, and electronics. His music has been commisioned and performed by groups such as the the Atlanta Chamber Players, consisting of members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Meridian Arts Ensemble, an internationally touring brass quintet, Emory University Faculty and Thamyris New Music Ensemble member Laura Gordy, the Halcyon String Quartet, and university orchestras. He has also composed a large number of works for organ with percussion, brass, and strings. Dr. Ahlstrom performed the premiere for the 2011 Southeastern Regional Convention of the American Guild of Organists. As a founding member of the Five Points Ensemble, a performer/composer collective which is exclusively devoted to the performance of 21st century music, he performed his new work for solo piano on the group's opening night concert of its 2011-2012 season.

Dr. Ahlstrom is the Director of Music of Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Atlanta where he has premiered his Requiem and Seven Last Words of Christ. Dr. Ahlstrom has been on the faculty of Queens College of the City University of New York and is a member of the faculty of Holy Spirit College, Atlanta, teaching the history of religious music with a special emphasis on Chant and Renaissance Literature. He was formerly the director of music at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in New York City, where this recording was made and composer-in-residence at the Center for Computer Music at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York. Performing music for organ, synthesizers, and electronics, he frequently concertized with the late Donald Joyce. His teachers include Jon Gillock, Gerre Hancock. Guy Bovet, Leonard Raver, William Hays, and Derek Healey. He holds a doctorate from the Juilliard School of Music.
As an organist, Albert Ahlstrom presents concerts featuring American music as well as the traditional European repertoire.

Horatio Parker: 21 Organ Works, Albert Ahlstrom, Organist
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