Beginning Organist Repertoire
  • Sam99
    Posts: 3
    Hi all,

    I am preparing to begin my first organist position at a small Anglican church and am in need of some suggestions for easy to learn, nearly sightreadable repertoire as I am expected to have 4 organ pieces prepared each week in addition to hymns and service music. Time for me is a bit in short supply haha. I've also only recently begun playing organ (about 7 months ago, but have played piano for a long time).

    There are a few collections I've been considering. Concordia's The Parish Organist was brought to my attention and I wondered if anyone has experience with these. I've also heard of Dom Paul Benoit's Elevations, but I'm unsure if these will be too advanced for someone with limited practice time (I'm a college student) and organ experience. A few other collections I've glanced at are Herbert Howells' Miniatures for Organ, Healey Willan's Hymn Tune Preludes (which book of these would be best), and a collection by George Thalben Ball called 113 Variations on Hymn Tunes. Does anyone have experience with these or similar collections, and would they be something which would be helpful to build my repertoire?

    Any help is much appreciated! Thanks!!
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 918
    In no particular order:

    36 Miniatures for Organ (Noel Rawsthorne)--Kevin Mayhew
    148 Interludes for Organ--Kevin Mayhew
    50 Baroque Fillers for Organ--Kevin Mayhew
    50 More Baroque Fillers for Organ--Kevin Mayhew
    The Liturgical Organist (vols. 1-7)--Fr. Carlo Rossini
    The Ecclesiastical Organist (vols. 1-2)--Fr. Carlo Rossini
    The Gregorian Organist--Fr. Carlo Rossini
    Works of John Stanley
    Works of Wm. Boyce
    Works of John Alcock
    Works of Domenico Zipoli
    Magnificat Fugues (Johann Pachelbel)
    Baroque Music for Manuals (numerous volumes)--Concordia Publishing House
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • Sam99
    Posts: 3
    Thanks so much!
  • Richard MixRichard Mix
    Posts: 1,579
    My starting survival kit was Franck's L'organiste (the 'Vol. 2' edited by Tournemire is also useful) and Couperin, soon augmented by Stanley, Boëllmann, the Fiori musicali and Fasolo.
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • Johannes-Baptiste Peyer, whom I've mentioned before in these pages, writes for manuals, mostly.


    I'm just playing some Pachelbel recently, and it's not difficult. (Vol. 1, K 03760 from Kalmus.

    (#11) Ricercar (the name of a piece, not a composer)
    (#9) Fugue in D-major. (NOT the Canon!)
    (#6) Toccata in C-major


    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • In addition to Irishtenor's excellent list you might want to invest in some of the works of various French baroque composers. The level of difficulty varies widely - some of the pieces would definitely be a challenge for you whilst other pieces would be rather easy. These pieces were conceived to be played in alternation with verses of chant, so would be quite appropriate for liturgy.

    A few of the composers are -
    Nicolas de Grigny
    Balbastre
    Lebegue
    Raison
    Corrette
    Titelouze
    Couperin
    Clerambault
    and so forth.

    You would find the recits particularly relatively easy to play.
    The most important and challenging aspect of this music would be the ornamentation and the ubiquitous notes inegale in which a series of eighths are played as dotted eighths and sixteenths (or sometimes vice versa). There are other stylistic traits, but these two are paramount. The Basse et dessus de trompettes make particulary festive voluntaries.

    Also, Oxford publishes a series of manuals only volumes.
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • Jeffrey Quick
    Posts: 1,381
    Charles Callahan's stuff is easy enough for me. Not saying he's the bestest, but his stuff works.
    Also, there were reams and reams of harmonium music published in the 19th c. sitting on IMSLP. There as well is Guilmant's Organiste Practique.

    I'm sure you're better than I am, so none of this should be hard.
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • I've found in my studies that Buxtehude offers interesting parts for the manuals without too much difficulty in the pedal part. The Dover reprint of his complete works is available very cheaply.
    Thanked by 2Sam99 PolskaPiano
  • Suggesting L'Organiste by Cesar Franck. It is available via IMSLP. The entire collection augmented with some of French and German Baroque collections and early English voluntaries of 1700 and 1800s. All work well with manuals only. (Richard Mix, sorry for more or less duplicating your comment!)
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • Sam99
    Posts: 3
    Thanks everyone! I'll definitely check out l'Organiste. I really like French music. I'm learning Franck's Pièce Héroïque so I hope l'Organiste will be much easier. haha
  • The music suggested above is excellent - this group has excellent taste!

    May we suggest a visit to our site.

    We've added a book or two that might be useful. Thank you.

    noel jones
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,892
    Liber Organi - ten volumes free from imslp
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • CGM
    Posts: 419
    Numerous free resources, courtesy IMSLP:

    Pachelbel's Toccatas are nice and not particularly difficult, here.

    There's a collection of short preludes & fugues called the Ariadne Musica, by Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer, here.

    The aforementioned Liber Organi are here.

    John Stanley's voluminous Voluntaries are collected here, here, and here.

    Happy practicing!
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • Seconding the Baroque Music for manuals series. I would suggest skimming the orgelbuchlein for the easier pieces. Also Vierne's first 1-12 of the 24 Pieces in Free Style, and Brahms' complete organ works
    Thanked by 1Sam99
  • irishtenoririshtenor
    Posts: 918
    Someone should have mentioned Flor Peeters' miniatures by now! Can't believe I forgot those in the first place!
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Sam99
  • CGM
    Posts: 419
    Oh, and another nice collection is the Cantantibus Organis, on IMSLP here.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • francisfrancis
    Posts: 7,892
    CGM

    Very nice. Will like digging into these.