Fantasia on "Lauda anima" - (2011)
in memory of E. Robert Kursinski
The hymn tune, Lauda anima, was composed by John Goss, circa 1869, and is sometimes also named "Praise Him." Lisa Kursinksi, the daughter of an organist and choirmaster with whom I worked decades ago, was kind enough to write me about his passing. I suggested a small musical memorial, and she suggested this hymn was among his favorites.
The well-known hymn is notated in 2/4 time, and for this reinterpretation of it, I chose to fit each consecutive four beats of two 2/4 measures into 3/4 meter, by rhythmically diminishing the first measure of every two. After the introduction in 2/4 therefore, the 3/4 meter is set up with a carillon-like gesture, the theme then entering at measure 12. Each phrase or set of phrases of the hymn tune then is separated with intervening filigree and an extended gesture for the manuals which prepares again the entry of the pedal line in its repeat. In various texts to this tune, the repeated phrase is "Praise Him," or the rousing "Alleluia." The final gestures of the fantasia restate this in the pedal.
Sir John Goss
John Goss (1800-1880) was the son of a church organist. He became a chorister at the Chapel Royal in 1811, and later studied music with composer and organist Thomas Attwood. He succeeded Attwood as the organist at St. Paul's Cathedral in 1838 and remained in that position for more than thirty years. He was Professor of Harmony at the Royal Academy of Music, and knighted by Queen Victoria in 1872. During these years he composed mostly church music, though he also produced incidental music for a play and some orchestral music.
E. Robert Kursinski
For nearly thirty-five years, E. Robert Kursinski (1921-2011) taught music in the Los Angeles Unified School District at Woodrow Wilson Middle and Senior High School in addition to William Howard Taft Senior High School. Afterward, he would become president of the Neighborhood Music School in Los Angeles. He was the organist and choir director at St. James Episcopal, Los Angeles, St. Edmund's Episcopal, San Marino, Angelica Lutheran, Los Angeles, Trinity Lutheran, Pasadena and Holy Family Roman Catholic Church, South Pasadena. He served as Dean of the Los Angeles Chapter, American Guild of Organists from 1954-56. He studied at the University of Southern California, and the Royal School of Church Music in London. Among the repertoire I recall performing with him were the Bach Passions, much of Vaughan Williams, Stanford and other 20th century English composers, and a concert of Hugo Distler's works.
2 pages, circa 3' 30" - An MP3 demo is courtesy of organist David E. Lamb:
Organist David E. Lamb, MMus, FTCL, LRAM, ARCM, is from New Jersey, and a former Fulbright Scholar and Assistant Organist of Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire, UK. David has held a number of major church and cathedral positions in the US, and is a recognized expert in the training of boy's voices.
The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this organ score.
Fantasia on "Lauda anima"