...and long gone by

 

 

...and long gone by - (1996)    

for organ

"In memoriam"


 

This work is for organ, marked for my own musings at the time in which it was made "in memoriam." The tone of the work is one of mourning for reflection of that which is now "long gone by." One may mourn that which was and is no more. One may mourn that which never was but might have been. One may mourn a moment, a time, a relationship, a separation or death, or even mourn a lost possibility -- that pathway which was not once followed.

 

It serves also as the first movement of a larger work for string sextet or string orchestra. It is based on thoughts drawn from the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke and titled, as is the three movement work, Klage. The full text in German and a translation into English is at that page.

 

 

The somber character of the chromatic passage above also spells from the musical cipher, B-A-C-H, as I was writing with several levels of meaning in mind, though the extended use of one cipher also produces from the next four notes my name as well. Taken together and with thought to members of my family now deceased, the eight notes are B-A-C-H-L-U-N-D based on that particular cipher. Beneath the "name" the bass line in D minor gently descends the octave.

 

Other ciphers show their pre-compositional hand, though hidden from the listener, and one cipher I used I then laid permanently aside, its hidden meaning only for my own thoughts. The parallel triads moving above the more static bass line lend a sense of roaming away from a central place, only to be drawn back.

 

As to that notion, once when asked by a mother who had tragically lost a son years ago to explain my faith in "eternity," I answered that we are often encouraged to fear death, that place to which all men must go. But we give no similar anxiety to the place out of which we were brought into existence. In response to her "fear" of the one end of life, I asked why she did not fear from whence her own son had once come, and suggested that all that we once were, are and will be is in the hands of the Creator. To generate our own doubt and uncertainty is normal, but it does not serve us well. Rather simple trust serves if only we release ourselves from the fear. This work is about melancholy but also about faith, trust and ultimate repose.

 

From measures 48-63 for those organs which have a shorter range in the manuals and pedal, playing these measures one octave lower with 4' stops in place of the 8' will easily suffice.

 

 

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.

 

...and long gone by

   MP3 file, circa 4' 45". 

 

                       


 

James Walker

 

A fine organist and choirmaster at All Saints Church in Pasadena as well as Professor of Organ at Occidental College, James Walker, debuted "...and long gone by" in a recital at St. James Episcopal Church in Los Angeles. He also premiered the Fantasia, Adagio and Fugue in F major, commissioned by the Association of Anglican Church Musicians.