Sheet music

Musical contribution - September 2011

bladmuziek met potlood

Dear organist,

Most of you will think of “Glory be to God the Father” when you hear the name Henry Smart.  We can also easily hum along to his “Aria, variations and finale” – which we are all familiar with from the beautiful Bolsward album played by Herman van Vliet.  However, most people aren’t aware of the fact that Smart has also written a Cantata, an Oratorium, an Opera and a great many choir and organ pieces.

Henry started off studying law, but soon stopped this study direction and started mainly focussing on playing the organ.  He became well known as an organist and improviser within an incredibly short period of time.  He also became an advisor and within that function became involved with the building of the organ in his “The St. Pancras Church” in London. The company Gray and Davison built a 4 manual organ and Henry Smart started using this organ in 1865.

Even though the Andantino doesn’t appear on his official list of organ works, we can certainly say we are dealing with a real “Smart” here.  He definitely wasn’t an innovator, but he managed to masterfully apply the classic harmony and counterpoint.  As a church musician, he had extraordinary attention to detail where the melody lines were concerned.  Which is certainly quite audible in this piece.

The Adantino takes on an almost symphonic character from his organ’s perspective.  Of the 47 speaking voices, this organ contained 13 labials 8 ft. and 7 labials 4 ft.  If we couple the manuals together and use the Sw., Ch., and Gt. Instructions, then we can produce quite a lot of dynamics without registration.  However, if we were to play this miniature on a small organ and we simply add or close a single stop at the aforementioned keyboard changes, then the andantino will remain equally expressive.

I hope you enjoy playing this piece.

André van Vliet