The Canadian Encyclopedia says this about the "early" organ works of Healey Willan (1880-1968): With the music for organ one enters a different world. Here Willan was thoroughly at home and made a significant and lasting contribution. One work stands out: the monumental "Introduction, Passacaglia and Fugue" of 1916. It represents the culmination of Willan's first period of organ composition, which started ca 1906 with a Fantasia on 'Ad coenam agni.' The Preludes and Fugues in C minor and B minor and the "Epilogue" are the other major works from this period. While not exploring the possibilities of the instrument as searchingly as his masterpiece, they are idiomatic and very typical of their time. They combine an innate Englishness (with a Stanfordian flavour) and a European chromaticism that can be found in Reger and Karg-Elert.
Born in England, Willan became organist-choirmaster of Toronto's largest church, St. Paul's, Bloor Street, but it was his royalties as a composer which allowed him to leave "low church" St. Paul's in 1921 and to become Precentor of the Church of St. Mary Magdalene (Toronto).
"Rondino, Elegy and Chaconne" was composed in Toronto in 1956, and published by Novello in 1957. This is a very attractive trilogy, that reminded me quite a bit of some of the works of Alec Rowley.
The "Elegy" is something of a cross between Rowley and Elgar, and as is the norm with this "type" of piece, the registration is often the most difficult thing to get right.
I'm pleased to see that quite a few people are enjoying these Willan Wonders, so, I dedicate this one to three of our members: Aida, Brian (klink) and Alan (Tweedle-Dee). I hope they like and enjoy this, and I leave it to them to decide who "gets" which movement! ;-)
I'll run out of space here, so, I'll write in full what Willan says about each of these three pieces.
The score is attached below, as well as series of photos of Healey Willan.