Music for the Month
Limited organ accompaniment has now also resumed. Usually, this will be on the first and third Sundays of each month. With the prospect of a further easing of social distancing measures, we hope to be able to welcome our choristers back soon. The music planned for the next Sunday is set out below:
Music for Sunday 3rd July 2021
Communion Voluntary Elegy - George Thalben-Ball
Thalben-Ball succeeded Walford-Davies as organist and director of the Temple Church choir, a post he held for nearly 60 years.
Under his direction, the choir achieved in 1927 international fame with its recording of Mendelssohn's Hear My Prayer, featuring Ernest Lough as the treble soloist.
The Elegy originated in an improvisation which Thalben-Ball played at the end of a live BBC daily religious service during World War II, when the service finished a couple of minutes earlier than expected. So many listeners to the broadcast telephoned the BBC to ask what the composition was, that he decided to write down his improvisation as well as he could remember it.
Thalben-Ball was an unashamed virtuoso, whether as pianist, as organist, or as choirmaster. He played the solo part in the first performance by an English-trained pianist of Rachmaninoff’s famously difficult Piano Concerto No 3, at the RCM in 1915, when he was aged 19.
In addition to his duties at the Temple, Thalben-Ball was Birmingham City ist, giving 1000 performances over a period of three decades.
Toccata in F – Charles Widor (1844-1937)
After studying in Brussels with Lemmens for organ and with Fétis for composition, Widor moved to Paris, and became assistant to Saint-Saëns at Église de la Madeleine, later moving to be orhganist of Saint-Sulpice, with the combined recommendation of the organ builder Cavaillé-Coll,
Saint-Saëns, and Charles Gounod.
Widor was at the forefront of a revival in French organ music, which utilized a new organ design pioneered by Aristide Cavaillé-Coll that was "symphonic" in style. This new style of organ, with a truly orchestral range of voicing and unprecedented abilities for smooth crescendos and diminuendos, encouraged composers to write music that was fully symphonic in scope.
The Toccata from Symphony No. 5 is the first of the toccatas characteristic of French Romantic organ music, and served as a model for later works by Gigout, Boëllmann, Mulet, Vierne and Dupré. Widor was pleased with the worldwide renown this single piece afforded him.