...and long gone by - (1996)
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
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
circa 4' 45".
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.