William Albright Organ Solo – Posthumous Premiere Release

William Albright (1944-1998) was an acknowledged master of composing and performing music for the contemporary pipe organ, second in stature only to his teacher Olivier Messiaen. He composed his “Whistler Nocturnes” on commission from Harvard University Art Museums, where he premiered the work in 1989 (with a subsequent performance at University of Wisconsin-Madison). Given that a large collection of paintings by James McNeil Whistler resides at Harvard, Albright investigated the painter’s work in sound through a variety of technical and sonic approaches. As Albright was originally the work’s only performer, he did not formalize his sketches for publication by his untimely death in 1998, though he continued to annotate his manuscript. (Indeed, some of these sketches were previously worked into Borborygm, the solo organ work commissioned by the AGO of William Bolcom in 2000 that purposefully drew upon unfinished sketches of Albright.) Albright conveyed the “Whistler Nocturnes” to one of his great musical champions, organist Douglas Reed, who became the only other person to perform the work from the sketches and notes by Albright. Marks Music is proud to have partnered with the Albright family and Dr. Reed to realize his insights and this music into publication. The publication begins with an essay and performance notes by Dr. Reed followed by Albright’s program note. We have posted Albright’s recording of the work at our website. Douglas Reed will soon be recording the work (on the contemporary Harvard organ in the chamber where Albright premiered it) and publishing an essay in The American Organist. We hope you will support our bringing this imaginative and wondrous piece of music to life by purchasing the music for yourself or someone else.


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May 22, 2018