Early Organ Composer Anniversaries in 2015

February 2, 2015

In 2015 there are several composers whose anniversaries can be commemorated, albeit some of the dates are not known for certain; some of the names need no introduction but there are also several lesser-known names listed here whose compositions are well worth exploring. No claim is made for completeness and there is no guarantee that every edition is in print—there may well also be editions by other publishers.


Christopher Gibbons (1615–76).Eldest surviving son of Orlando Gibbons, he was organist of the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey; only a few compositions for keyboard survive in various manuscripts, comprising two short pieces (corrente and saraband) for harpsichord, four verses or voluntaries and three verses or double voluntaries (i.e. requiring two manuals for their execution), with passages for solos on Cornet, Sesquialtera, and Trumpet. Some versions of these double voluntaries seem to have been considerably amended and elongated by the scribe. All nine pieces have been re-edited by John Caldwell for American Institute of Musicology’s Corpus of Early Keyboard Music series (CEKM 18). 


Spiridionis a Monte Carmelo (1615–85). German organist, who traveled widely in Belgium, Germany, and Prague before taking a position in Bamberg in 1664. He composed sacred music and also published a two-volume keyboard tutor, Nova instructio pro pulsandis organis, spinettis, manuchordiis, in Bamberg, of which the first part, which appeared in 1670, contained a very large number of cadences, 35 canzonas, and 15 dances including corrente, and the second part, which appeared the following year, contains mainly cadenzas, as well as ten canzonettas, seven toccatinas, two gagliardas, and four corrente. Part three contains more formulas for cadentiae followed by ligaturae and trilli; part four contains the actuarium for parts one and two, an aria, allemanda, sarabanda, and modus variandi. A modern edition by Edoardo Bellotti of parts one and two has been published by Andromeda. Parts three and four have also been edited by Bellotti and published by Il Levante, obtainable via La Stanza della Musica, Rome (www.lastanzadellamusica.com).


Gregorio Strozzi (ca. 1615–after 1687). Organist in Naples and doctor in both civil and canon law, in addition to sacred works he left a Capricci da sonare cembali et organi, published in open score in Naples in 1687, which is indebted to Trabaci, Mayone, and Frescobaldi, its 31 pieces covering the main compositional genres of the time including three capriccios, three ricercatas, three sonatas, four toccatas, two balletti, three gagliardas, three sets of variations, eight correntes, a mascara, and a Toccata de passacagli. This important print has been re-edited by Barton Hudson for American Institute of Musicology in the Corpus of Early Keyboard Music series (CEKM 11).


Heinrich Bach (1615–92). Great uncle of Johann Sebastian and organist in Arnstadt, almost all of his compositions in various genres have unfortunately been lost. He was the father of Johann Christoph and Johann Michael Bach, who also became composers. For keyboard he left a Chaconne in A, edited by Laura Cerutti for Armelin, and two chorale preludes, on Erbarm dich mein and Da Jesu an dem Kreuze stund, included in Organ Works by the Bach Family, edited by Diethard Hellmann for Edition Peters.


Tarquinio Merula (ca. 1594–1665). Organist and violinist active mainly in Cremona, he published a number of sacred concertos, Mass and psalm settings, as well as madrigals and ensemble canzonas. Fourteen keyboard works have survived in manuscripts, including a chromatic Capriccio and Sonata, the former based on the chromatic tetrachord, the latter on a figure covering a major ninth by semitone (!), although many subsequent entries are limited to the tetrachord. There are three intonazioni cromatiche (which may well be incorrectly attributed), a toccata (which contains a fugal section sandwiched between sections akin to Merula’s toccatas but lacking his inventiveness), a capriccio with an insistent rhythmic figure and much sequential writing, and five canzonas, of which the first, an arrangement of his ensemble piece La Loda, has basic similarities to the capriccio, and the second is based on an intriguing sequence of four descending broken triads. The next three canzone have been attributed tentatively to Merula, no. 3 being a version of his ensemble Canzona La Marca. All of these pieces together with a cromatica by Soncino and a  canzona by Fasolo have been edited by Alan Curtis and published by L’Organo, Brescia, as Monumenti di Musica Italiana Series 1, Organo e Cembalo, vol. 1, available from Armelin. There is also a reprint by Kalmus, which lacks the introduction. 


Wolfgang Ebner (1612–1665). Organist of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Vienna, and court organist, contemporary with Froberger. Three works certainly by him include three toccatas, a courante, a Capriccio sopra L’aria Pergamasco, the Partite sopra l’Aria Favorita with seven variations, and the 36 variations divided into three groups of 12 (the second and third groups being in the form of a courante and sarabande) on an Aria in A Minor composed by Ferdinand III. Works of uncertain authenticity include 56 versets encompassing various forms (i.e. toccata, capriccio, fugue in the eight church modes), eight of which are variants of pieces by Froberger and one by Frescobaldi, two preludes, a partita in A, and eight individual dance movements. Published by Bärenreiter in 2 volumes, edited by Siegbert Rampe, the publication also includes keyboard works by Georg Muffat. 


Nikolaus Bruhns (1665–97). Pupil of Buxtehude, he became organist in Husum in 1689. Comparatively well known to players today, particularly for his preludes in E minor, Bruhns was also a highly skilled violinist who, according to undoubtedly reliable contemporary accounts, accompanied his violin playing at the organ by a bass played with great dexterity on the pedals. None of his organ works were printed in his lifetime, and no autograph manuscripts have survived. His small opus survived in a virtually unbroken transmission in both manuscripts of the 18th century and printed editions from the 19th forward. He wrote chamber music, which regrettably has not survived, and 12 cantatas, and left four brilliant praeludia for organ in manuscripts—multi-sectional, and clearly showing the influence of his teacher as well as echo devices. A highly ornamented Chorale Fantasia on Nun komm der Heiden Heiland also shows continuation of the North German tradition of Scheidemann, Reincken, and Tunder. Modern editions, which also include an adagio and a praeludium, of which only fragments survive, have been prepared by Klaus Beckmann, published by Schott in the series Masters of the North German School vol. 13, and also edited by Harald Vogel for Breitkopf & Hartel.


Johann Hanff (1665–1712). Organist in Hamburg and Schleswig, only three of his cantatas and six chorale preludes survive in manuscripts. Five of the preludes are in a similar style to Buxtehude’s, with highly ornamented melodies in the right hand, but in Erbarm dich mein two verses are set, the second verse opening with a fugue based on the descending chromatic fourth before reverting to a right hand solo of the ornamented melody. They have been edited by Ewald Kooiman for Harmonia Uitgave, Incognita Organo Part 7. 


Johann Fischer (ca. 1665–1746). Kapellmeister to Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden, he published chamber and vocal music. His keyboard works include four sets of pieces, comprising two sets of suites for harpsichord/clavichord in 1696 and 1738, which show the French influence, and two sets of pieces for the organ, which show a more Italianate influence. Musikalischer Blumenstrauss of 1732 is a collection of pieces on the eight tones comprising a praeludium, six fugues, and finale for each tone. Ariadne Musica, of 1702 and 1715, contains 20 short preludes and fugues, each in a different key (including B, E-flat, and A-flat major, B, F#, and C# minor), which were known to J. S. Bach, who used some of the subjects in his Well-Tempered Clavier, and five ricercars on hymns for Advent, Christmas, Quadragesima, Passiontide, and Easter. 

The complete keyboard music has been edited by Ernst von Werra for Breitopf & Hartel. The Ariadne has been edited by Ernst Kaller for Schott as Liber Organi vol. 7 and the Musikalischer Blumenstrauss by Rudolph Walter for Musikverlag Alfred Coppenrath, Altötting as Süddeutsche Orgelmeister des Barock vol. 1, available through Carus Verlag. Facsimile editions have been published by Broude Bros in the Performers’ Facsimiles series nos. 197 (Ariadne) and 199 (Musikalischer Blumenstrauss). 

Johann Molter (1696–1765). German organist in Eisenach and Karlsruhe whose comprehensive works embrace all genres. Six chorale arrangements have been edited by Siegbert Rampe for Bärenreiter in German Organ and Keyboard Music from Bach’s Period.


Xarava y Bruna (ca. 1640–1715).Nephew of Pablo Bruna. Two pieces by him, an Ydea Vuena por a la mi re and fuga, and an Obra en lleno de 3 Tono (a tiento accidental found in the Jaca manuscript is a short version of the fuga), are to be found in one of the Martín y Coll manuscripts, and have been edited by Julian Sagasta for Union Musical Española in Tonos de Palacio y Canciones Communes vol. 2, and by Carlo Stella and Vittorio Vinay for Zanibon in Composizioni Inedite dal ‘Flores de Musica’ di Antonio Martin y Coll


Georg Wagenseil (1715–77). Organist and composer to the court in Vienna, he composed operas, chamber music, concerti, and organ and harpsichord music. Although considered as one of the most important Viennese composers of the 18th century, very few of his many keyboard works have been published, and conspicuous by their absence are the organ works, including 97 versets in various tones, a cycle of Praeambula and Versets on the Eight Tones, and numerous other individual pieces. Five pieces have been edited by Erich Benedikt and included in Viennese Organ Music from around 1750 published by Doblinger as DM1335 in the Diletto Musicale series, including a praeludium on the 1st and on the 2nd tones, a Fuga in D Minor, a piece titled Das Glockengeläut zu Rom dem Vatican (in C minor), and an Andante in D minor taken from the third Divertimento of opus 1, better perhaps suited to stringed keyboard instruments. 


James Nares (1715–83). Became organist of York Minster in 1735. In addition to much sacred music including services and secular vocal music, he left several publications for keyboard including two sets of lessons for harpsichord and a set of six fugues with introductory voluntaries for organ or harpsichord, which are available in a modern edition by Greg Lewin as well as in facsimile from Oxford University Press. Only nos. 1, 3, and 5 are preceded by an introduction. Also available in facsimile from Oxford University Press is Il Principio, or A Regular Introduction to Playing on the harpsichord or Organ, which gives basic information on ornamentation and fingering followed by a graduated series of pieces.


Georg Reichardt (1715–89). Pupil of Jakob Adlung. His Sechs fugierte Orgeltrios have been edited by Rudolph Walter for Hänssler Verlag and are available from Carus Verlag. 

Charles-Joseph van Helmont (1715–90). Organist in Brussels, he composed a large quantity of sacred vocal music including Masses and motets and a much smaller amount of secular vocal music. His keyboard works comprise the Pièces de clavecin of 1737, which include two suites, the pieces of which have French titles. The first suite and four fugues have been edited by J. Watelet and published by Vereniging voor Muziekgeschiedenis te Antwerpen in 1948 as Monumenta Musicae Belgicae vol. 6 (also contains pieces by Dieudonné Raick), with the second set edited by Laura Cerutti for Armelin, with a facsimile edition published by Anne Fuzeau. The complete set of Six Fugues has been edited by Jan Vanmol for Calcant.


Johann Doles (1715–97). Pupil of Bach in Leipzig, where he became Kantor, he composed much sacred and secular vocal music, harpsichord sonatas, and some chorale preludes, of which four pieces from the fifth volume of Singbare und leichte Choralvorspiele has been edited by Eberhard Hofmann for Musica Rinata in Orgelpräludien vom Barock zur Klassik


John Alcock Sr. (1715–1806). Organist at Lichfield Cathedral from 1750 until 1765, and thereafter at Sutton Coldfield and Tamworth, he composed sacred choral music, numerous secular vocal works, Six Suites of Easy Lessons and a Trumpet Tune for the harpsichord, which has been edited by Richard Jones and published by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music, as Easier Piano Pieces (vol. 15), and a set of Ten Voluntaries for the Organ or Harpsichord, a new edition of which has been edited and published by Greg Lewin.


Carlmann Kolb (1703–65). Organist of the community of Asbach and priest, he left a sinfonia for harpsichord and strings and the Certamen aonium published in 1733, a set of pieces on the eight tones, including a fairly expansive prelude, 3 fugal verses in a variety of styles and meters, and a toccata-like cadenza. Some of the preludes, particularly the third, are almost extravagantly eccentric in their modulations and dramatic rests. Modern editions by Rudolf Walter for Musikverlag Alfred Coppenrath, Altötting as Süddeutsche Orgelmeister des Barock vol. 5, available through Carus Verlag, and by Gregor Klaus for Willy Müller Süddeutscher Musikverlag, available from Bärenreiter.


Jose Ferrer (1745–1815). Organist in various Spanish cathedrals, including Oviedo, he composed mainly secular and chamber music. Seven sonatas for keyboard by him are preserved in a manuscript now in Zaragoza, and a further six have been attributed to him on stylistic grounds, although as no. 8 is by Domenico Scarlatti, it may well be that further pieces are by other composers. Many of the sonatas are far better suited to stringed keyboard instruments but nos. 9–11 sound well on the organ. All 13 sonatas have been edited as Sonatas para Clave by Dionisio Preciado and published by Real Musical, Madrid, as Teclado Espanol Siglo XVIII, vol. 1. No. 2 in G minor and a further Sonata in C Minor, both taken from MS 1665 at Montserrat, are included in Early Spanish keyboard music: an anthology—Vol. 3, The eighteenth century, edited by Barry Ife and Roy Truby for Oxford University Press.


Pietro Morandi (1745–1815). After studying with Padre Martini in Bologna he worked in Pergola and Senigallia cathedrals. He composed sacred and secular vocal and damatic music and also left 12 Concerti per L’Organo solo, with instructions for registration, and twenty sonatas and sinfonias, all of which have been edited in four volumes by Maurizio Machella for Armelin. 


Giuseppe Gherardeschi (1759–1815). Organist in Pistoia, first of S. Maria dell Umiltà and then the cathedral, he composed much sacred vocal music and several sonatas for harpsichord or fortepiano plus violin and also concerti. His numerous organ compositions, which include versetti, offertorios, elevazioni, sonatas, and rondos, contain precise instructions for registration, including drum pedals and toy stops such as the Uccello. Many have been edited by Umberto Pineschi in Musiche pistoiesi per organo (Biblioteca Classica dell’Organista, vol. M05 and M06), Antologia del Settecento organistico pistoiese (Biblioteca Classica dell’Organista, vol. 19), Musiche d’organo a Pistoia (Biblioteca Classica dell’Organista, vol. 30); Letteratura organistica toscana dal XVII al XIX secolo (Accademia di musica italiana per organo, Pistoia). Some twenty pieces have been edited by Maurizio Machella in two volumes for Armelin as L’organo Italiano nell’Ottocento (OIO 222 and OIO 223). An official download of Gherardeschi’s complete organ works, together with many other pieces from the Pistoia cathedral archives, is available from www.accademiagherardeschi.it/eng-partiture.php?id_sezione=6 for a payment of 10 Euros.


Domenico Puccini (1772–1815). organist in Lucca and grandfather of the famous opera composer, he composed both sacred and secular vocal music, as well as operas. He left 42 one-movement sonatas for organ in manuscripts, which have been edited in four volumes by Maurizio Machella for Armelin. A further volume contains sonatas for violin with accompaniment for organ or fortepiano. 

An increasing number of pieces, ranging from complete original publications/manuscripts (which present the usual problems of multiple clefs as well as original printer’s errors) to modern versions of complete or individual works, are to be found on various free download sites, most noticeably IMSLP; however, the accuracy of some modern typesettings is highly questionable, and all should be treated with caution before use. 


Publishers’ websites 

American Institute of Musicology—CEKM series:

Armelin: www.armelin.it

Associated Board: shop.abrsm.org

Bärenreiter: www.baerenreiter.com  

Breitkopf & Hartel:  www.breitkopf.com  

Broude Bros: www.broude.us 

Calcant: www.janvanmol.be 

Carus Verlag: www.carus-verlag.com 

Doblinger Verlag: www.doblinger-verlag.at

Fuzeau: www.editions-classique.com     

Greg Lewin Music: www.greglewin.co.uk

Monumenta Musicae Belgicae: www.dbnl.org 

Musica Rinata: www.berliner-chormusik-verlag.de

OUP: ukcatalogue.oup.com/category/music.do 

Schott Music: www.schott-music.com 

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