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VIV 323


Six Fugues for Organ On English Psalm Tunes
By Elizabeth Stirling• Arranged by Barbara Harbach

Delightful fugues in the style of J.S. Bach’s chorale fantasies, filled with interesting contrapuntal technique, all clothed with Romantic harmonies. Based on O Worship the King, St. Mary’s, Tallis’ Canon, Nun freut euch, and Old Hundreth; the last piece is Prelude and Fugue in B-flat. Recorded on compact disc CD Gasparo 294 and Hester Park CD 7704.
VIV 323, 44 pages, $19.95


Click here to view a page of the score.


A Brief Bio of the Composer

Elizabeth Stirling is an amazing and interesting nineteenth-century woman composer and organist of whom little is known. She was born in Greenwich, England, February 26, 1819, and died in London, March 25, 1895. Her musical education at the Royal Academy of Music in London consisted of piano, organ, and harmony studies with Edward Homes, W.B. Wilson, and J.A. Hamilton, respectively, as well as theory studies with Sir George Macfarren. In 1839, at the age of twenty, she was appointed organist at All Saints' Poplar. Stirling apparently had an exceptional pedal technique, for at that time full compass pedalboards were not the standard. Yet, she performed an organ recital at St. Katherine's in Regent Park in August of 1837 on a three-manual Green organ that had a short-compass Swell and a Pedal division that had only an octave and a half of pedals. She was also one of the first recitalists and women organ performers to program the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. What is intriguing is that her recital program at St. Katherine's, Regent's Park, contained ten pieces by Bach, including the trio on Allein Gott in der höh, Prelude in E Flat from the Clavierübung, trio in G Major on Dies sind die heiligen, trio in E Minor on Vater unser imm [sic] himmel-reich, trio in D Minor on Jesus Christus unser Heiland, and Preludes and Fugues in C Major, E Minor, A Minor, C Minor, as well as the Canonic variations on Vom himmel hoch.. Also included was a Prelude and Fugue in C Minor by John Schneider, and a Prelude and Fugue in A Major by E. Webbe.

According to Sophie Fuller in her book, The Pandora Guide to Women Composers, Britain and the US, 1629-Present, Pandora , 1994, this recital was reviewed in The Musical World, in 1837:

"This young lady...was the unceasing object of general astonishment, and performed for nearly three hours in continuation the most difficult pedal fugues and preludes of Bach, with a degree of precision and mastery, which may almost be said to be unrivalled. We hope to see justice done to Miss Stirling. The prejudice against lady organists cannot remain, with such an example opposed to it.

A Brief Bio of the Arranger

Barbara Harbach has a large catalog of works, including symphonies, opera, string orchestra, musicals, works for chamber ensembles, film scores, modern ballets, organ, harpsichord, piano, choral anthems, and many arrangements for brass and organ of various Baroque works. She is also involved in the research, editing, publication and recording of manuscripts of eighteenth-century keyboard composers as well as historical and contemporary women composers. Her work is available in both recorded and published form through MSR Classics, Naxos Records, Gasparo Records, Kingdom Records, Albany Records, Northeastern Records, Hester Park, Robert King Music, Elkan-Vogel, Augsburg Fortress, Agape Music and Vivace Press. Harbach is also the editor of the journal, Women of Note Quarterly.

“Harbach’s music astonished me for its heavy reliance on the lyric and the beautifully (and cogently) framed melodic line. I could listen to her music for hours.” American Record Guide ~ March / April 2008. “ Harbach has distinguished herself as one of the preeminent American composers of any generation.” All Music Guide ~ December 2007.

Harbach has toured extensively as both concert organist and harpsichordist and her lively performances and recordings have captured the imagination of many American composers, and the body of work written for and dedicated to Harbach is substantial. Musical America has called her “nothing short of brilliant,” and Gramophone has cited her as an “acknowledged interpreter – and, indeed, muse – of modern harpsichord music.” She was host of the weekly television music series Palouse Performance seen throughout the Inland Northwest.

Currently professor of music at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, she holds academic degrees from Pennsylvania State University (B.A.), Yale University (M.M.A.), Musikhochschule (Konzertdiplom) in Frankfurt, Germany, and the Eastman School of Music (D.M.A.). In 2002, Harbach received an honorary doctorate in music, honoris causa, from Wilmington College, Ohio for her lifetime achievement as a composer, performer, editor and publisher.

Barbara Harbach initiated Women in the Arts-St. Louis, a celebration of the achievements of women creators. The over 800 events by various cultural organizations in the St. Louis region provided audiences with new and historical examples of the work of women writers, composers and artists. In 2006 for her work Women in the Arts-St. Louis she was the recipient of the Arts Education Award from the Missouri Arts Council; the Missouri Citizen for the Arts Award; the Yellow rose Award from the Zonta International Club of St. Louis; the UM-St. Louis College of Fine Arts and Communication, Faculty Excellence Award; and in 2007 she was awarded the Hellenic Spirit Foundation Award.


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