Musical contribution – May 2021

Melody                                                                                      Alfred Hollins    (1865-1942)

(LiVE Sample Set: Manchester, Hill & Sons)

Hollins was blind from birth, his mother died when he was young, and his father’s background is obscure. He received piano lessons from an aunt from a young age, and at age 13 he entered the Royal National College for the Blind. He went on to study in Germany and elsewhere, and by age 20 he was already the organist at St. John’s Church, Redhill. He toured extensively throughout his life, including in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the USA.

His legacy includes a large number of compositions, ranging from short to full length. All these works feature his signature melodious style, and this work is a fine example. With the exception of a few bars, this is a three-part composition. The right hand is played in full with Clarinet, a typically English reed, but Oboe, Cromorne or similar would work just as well. The composition also requires a stronger left hand. While this is not a trio in the strict sense, it would not do the composition justice to let the left side be too subservient.

I would like to highlight the part where Hollins – in a stroke of genius – takes us to G-Major for a few bars, only to jump right back. If we add some expression by using the swell box (preferably on the sample set from Manchester or Liverpool, or another English organ), with a little imagination we are transported right back to early-twentieth-century England.

Warm regards,

André van Vliet

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