New William Drake organ at Chelsea Old Church

Celebrity Opening Concert – William Drake organ
Nathan Laube

Chelsea Old Church, 19 January 2020

Opening recitals on new organs raise several issues. The performance must, of course, be excellent in itself, regardless of the occasion. But the organ also needs to be demonstrated in a manner that future organ recitals do not need to. I have given several recitals (including, for example, at St John’s, Smith Square) where I have used little more than half of the available stops, to produce a sound that the composer might just recognise. But for an opening recital, a thorough exploration of the sounds of the new instrument is expected. If the organ is built in a specific historic style, the expectation may be that the music of that period dominates. But many organs are built in an eclectic style, capable, in theory, of coping with music from several different historical periods. Continue reading

Andrew Benson-Wilson: Three Westminster Abbey organists

Music-at-Hill – Midtown concerts

Friday 13 September 2019, 1:10pm

St Giles-in-the-Fields
60 St Giles High Street. London, WC2H 8LG

Andrew Benson-Wilson
plays organ music by
Three Westminster Abbey Organists
1668 John Blow; 1679 Henry Purcell;
1695 Blow re-appointed; 1708-1727 William Croft

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During the period from 1668 and 1708, Westminster Abbey appointed three distinguished organists, the first of which, John Blow, was the teacher of his two successors, Henry Purcell and William Croft. In 1679 John Blow stepped down from his Abbey post in favour of his talented student, Purcell, only returning on Purcell’s death in 1695. William Croft replaced John Blow after his death in 1708, having previously been organist at St Anne’s Soho and Master of the Children of the Chapel Royal. He is most famed today for his Funeral Sentences, performed at Handel’s funeral in 1759 and at every British state funeral since then.

William Drake’s reconstruction of the Dallam/Smith/England/Lincoln/Gray & Davison organ in St Giles-in-the-Fields is one of London’s most important historic musical instruments. It contains some of the oldest pipework in London, going back to the time of Blow and Purcell in the mid to late 17th century.

Organ information can be found here.
Free admission, retiring collection.
The church is just behind Centre Point/Tottenham Court Road tube station.

Andrew Benson-Wilson plays Reincken

Mayfair Organ Concerts
Andrew Benson-Wilson plays 
Johann Adam Reincken (1643-1722)
St George’s, Hanover Square, London W1S 1FX
30 April 2019 @ 1:10pm 

Toccata in G (Andreas Bach Book)
Toccata in A (Anon?)
Chorale Fantasia: An Wasserflüssen Babylon

Johann Adam Reincken was one of the most important and influential 17th-century North German organist-composers. He forms a unique link between the Sweelinck influenced organists of the earlier part of the century and JS Bach. Little is known about his life, and very few of his organ compositions survive. He was born to North German parents in Deventer in The Netherlands around 1643. An earlier supposed birthdate of 1623 is now accepted as incorrect. He moved to Hamburg in 1654, aged just 11, to study with the famed organist of the Katharinenkirche, Heinrich Scheidemann, a pupil of Sweelinck. After a brief return to Deventer, he came back to Hamburg in 1659 as Scheidemann’s assistant, replacing him as organist in 1663 on Scheidemann’s death. As was the custom of the time, he married one of Scheidemann’s daughters in 1665. He remained there for 60 years until his death in 1722. As well as his church duties, he co-founded the Hamburg Opera and was involved in the city’s musical life. He is known from two pictures dating from around 1674; the portrait painting and the now well-known ‘Musical Company’ painting by Johannes Voorhout.

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Organ music by Tunder (d1667)

Organ music by Franz Tunder (1614-1667)
St George Hanover Square (Mayfair Organ Concerts)
Tuesday 9 May 2017, 1:10
Andrew Benson-Wilson

SGHS main organ

Franz Tunder was one of the most influential organists and composers of the early to mid 17th century in North Germany. Along with a group of Hamburg organist composers, including Jacob Praetorius, Scheidemann, and Weckmann, he created the musical development that culminated in Dietrich Buxtehude, Tunder’s son-in-law, and successor at the Lübeck Marienkirche. He was key to the development of the extended Chorale Fantasia and the dramatic Stylus Phantasticus.

In 1646 Tunder founded the famous Abendmusiken series of concerts in the Marienkirche. These were funded by, and performed to, Lübeck businessmen, and were continued by Buxtehude and then well into the 18th century. In Tunder’s day, the Abendmusik concerts were usually organ recitals. In this programme, you will experience some of the organ music that could have been heard during these concerts, which were very much in the tradition of today’s London lunchtime concerts.

The 2012 Richards, Fowkes & Co organ in St George’s, Hanover Square (Handel’s church) is eminently suitable for music of this period.

Praeludium in g
In dich hab ich gehoffet, Herr
Jesus Christus wahr’ Gottes Sohn
Auf meinem Lieben Gott (manualiter)
Praeludium in g
Komm, Heiliger Geist, Herre Gott

Admission is free, with a retiring collection.

Froberger & Blow: St Giles-in-the-Fields

Friday 24 March 2017, 1pm
St Giles-in-the-Fields
60 St Giles High Street. London, WC2H 8LG

Andrew Benson-Wilson plays organ music by Froberger & Blow

This recital traces the influence of Johann Jakob Froberger (1616-67) on the English organist and composer, John Blow (1649-1708).

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Froberger was an enormous influence on keyboard composers from the 17th to early 19th century, not least for his role in spreading the Italian style of his teacher Frescobaldi around Europe, and assimilating various European musical styles into his own compositions. Although only two of his works were published in his lifetime, Froberger’s compositions were widely circulated in manuscript copies.  They were known to have been studied by the likes of Pachelbel, Buxtehude, Muffat, Kerll, Weckmann, Louis Couperin, Kirnberger, Böhm, Handel, Bach, and even Mozart and Beethoven. He was a close friend of Matthias Weckmann, who helped to spread the Italian style to the important North German organ composers in Hamburg.

John Blow (1649-1708) was the teacher of Purcell, and his predecessor (and successor) as organist of Westminster Abbey. He was just 18 when Froberger died and was about 4 when Froberger made his disastrous visit to London. The influence of Froberger came through manuscripts that Blow copied, adding his own distinctive English Baroque ornaments in the process.

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HANDEL ORGAN RECITAL. St George’s, Hanover Sq. 7 April 1:10.

The London Handel Festival and Mayfair Organ Concerts present a lunchtime organ recital by

Andrew Benson-Wilson

Handel Overtures and Organ Concertos, arranged for solo organ by Handel, Babell and Walsh c 1755. Played on the ‘Handel House’ chamber organ and the 2012 Richards Fowkes & Co organ in Handel’s own church of St George, Hanover Square in London’s Mayfair. SGHS Handel organ_crop 2