Jelani Eddington | Blue Tango - A Leroy Anderson Centennial Celebration (vol. 1)

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Blue Tango - A Leroy Anderson Centennial Celebration (vol. 1)

by Jelani Eddington

This album features easy-listening pops-style light orchestral music composed by Leroy Anderson and performed on the world's largest theatre pipe organ.
Genre: Easy Listening: Orchestral Pop
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  song title
1. Blue Tango
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2:49 album only
2. Clarinet Candy
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2:54 album only
3. The First Day Of Spring
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2:59 album only
4. The Phantom Regiment
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3:07 album only
5. The Syncopated Clock
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2:18 album only
6. The Waltzing Cat
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2:40 album only
7. Goldilocks Medley: Overture/The Pussy Foot
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1:02 album only
8. Goldilocks Medley: Lazy Moon
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1:46 album only
9. Goldilocks Medley: Town House Maxixe
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1:17 album only
10. Goldilocks Medley: Shall I Take My Heart And Go?
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1:21 album only
11. Goldilocks Medley: I Never Know When To Say When
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2:53 album only
12. Goldilocks Medley: Pirate Dance
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2:10 album only
13. Goldilocks Medley: Pyramid Dance
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3:46 album only
14. The Golden Years
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3:23 album only
15. The Typewriter
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1:48 album only
16. A Trumpeter's Lullaby
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3:09 album only
17. Ticonderoga March
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2:27 album only
18. The Penny-Whistle Song
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2:45 album only
19. Irish Suite: The Irish Washerwoman
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3:06 album only
20. Irish Suite: The Minstrel Boy
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3:37 album only
21. Irish Suite: The Rakes Of Mallow
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22. Irish Suite: The Wearing Of The Green
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23. Irish Suite: The Last Rose Of Summer
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24. Irish Suite: The Girl I Left Behind Me
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3:31 album only
25. Serenata
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4:00 album only
26. Arietta
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2:24 album only
27. The Captains And The Kings
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2:55 album only
28. Easter Song (World Premiere Recording)
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Album Notes

Leroy Anderson has been described as one the most significant American composers of 20th century instrumental music—alongside the likes of George Gershwin, Leonard Bernstein, and Aaron Copeland. Anyone with even a passing familiarity with American music knows the work of Leroy Anderson. Through enduring favorites such as Sleigh Ride, Blue Tango, and The Syncopated Clock, as well as a treasure trove of other timeless classics, Anderson’s music has become the gold standard of American light orchestral music. In addition to his uncanny compositional abilities, Leroy Anderson also proved himself countless times as a masterful arranger and orchestrator.

Leroy Anderson’s music has always been popular with musicians worldwide, and theatre organists have often remarked how well his compositions adapt to the theatre pipe organ. This is perhaps due in part to the fact that Leroy Anderson was himself an organist, serving for many years as organist and choirmaster of the East Congregational Church in Milton, Massachusetts. Despite the popularity of Anderson’s music among organists, however, there has never before been an extensive anthology of his works performed on the organ.

The purpose of this project, therefore, has always been a straightforward one—to recreate as faithfully as possible the intricacy of Leroy Anderson’s works as the composer himself arranged and orchestrated them. The project is even more à propos, given the composer’s centennial in 2008.

Recreating Leroy Anderson’s orchestrations on a single instrument without the benefit of a full orchestra is a task one approaches with trepidation. Nevertheless, the Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ featured on this album more than lives up to the task. After all, theatre pipe organs were developed in the 1910s and 1920s as so-called “unit orchestras” to replicate the sounds of the orchestra. Through the instruments’ many orchestral voices (such as strings, reeds, flutes) as well as various tuned percussion instruments (including the marimba, xylophone, glockenspiel, and celesta), traps (such as the snare drum, wood block, triangle, tap cymbal), and other miscellaneous sound effects (slide whistle, acme siren, etc.), the theatre pipe organ stands in the unique position of being the only self-contained acoustic musical instrument capable of faithfully recreating orchestral music.

With very few exceptions, as noted throughout in these notes, the arrangements on this recording are performed by a single musician—organist Jelani Eddington—in real time, and with no overdubbing. In certain works, orchestral percussion effects (such as temple blocks, whip crack, sandpaper blocks, cow bell, snare drum, etc.) were played by percussionists live with the organ. These effects were added in arrangements in which omission of the effects would unduly compromise Leroy Anderson’s intended orchestrations.

In Forgotten Dreams (volume 2, track 14) and the Piano Concerto in C (volume 2, tracks 22-24), the orchestral parts and the solo piano parts are performed by Jelani Eddington. This self-accompaniment is possible because the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer has a computerized relay that is capable of recording the organ as it is being played live, and then playing back through the organ as though the instrument were actually being played by an organist. It thereby became possible for Jelani to record the orchestral parts on the organ, play it back through the organ’s relay, and then play the piano parts live.

Additionally, of particular note is the world-premiere recording of two newly-discovered Leroy Anderson compositions: Easter Song (volume 1, track 28) and the Cambridge Centennial March Of Industry (volume 2, track 21). These works have never before been performed or recorded and were composed specifically for the organ.


Leroy Anderson was born on June 29, 1908 in Cambridge, Massachusetts the son of Swedish immigrants. He attended Harvard University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music. While at Harvard, he conducted and composed for the Harvard University Band. Ultimately, his compositions grabbed the attention of Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler, who asked Anderson to compose original compositions for the Pops. This collaboration proved extremely fruitful for many years.

In addition to his musical endeavors, Leroy Anderson also studied German and Scandinavian languages at Harvard. Anderson ultimately proved to be quite the linguist, achieving fluency in German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic, with some proficiency in French and Italian.

The Anderson-Fiedler collaboration began in 1938, and the composer’s first works for the Pops, Jazz Pizzicato and Jazz Legato, proved to be instant successes. In 1942 however, the United States went to war, and Leroy Anderson was drafted and sent to Europe where he served primarily as translator and censor. Towards the end of his service, he began to find time to compose again. One of the pieces he composed was The Syncopated Clock, which turned out to be one of his most enduring works.

Following the war, Leroy Anderson became highly productive, and his compositions became ever more popular. By the end of the 1940s, Anderson had already written some of his biggest hits, including The Syncopated Clock, Fiddle-Faddle, Serenata, Sleigh Ride, and A Trumpeter’s Lullaby.

Beginning in the early 1950s, Leroy Anderson began turning out new compositions at a dizzying rate. At about the same time, the composer teamed up with lyricist Mitchell Parish, who had already made a name for himself for being able to “retrofit” lyrics to existing instrumental compositions. Ultimately, Parish supplied lyrics to The Syncopated Clock, Serenata, Sleigh Ride, The Waltzing Cat, Blue Tango, Belle Of The Ball, and Forgotten Dreams. The global success of these compositions – particularly Sleigh Ride – has surely been due in part to Parish’s lyrics.

Leroy Anderson also completed two very ambitious projects: composing the score to the Broadway musical, Goldilocks (volume 1, tracks 7-13), and completing his Piano Concerto In C (volume 2, tracks 22-24). By the 1960s, however, the pace of the composer’s output had slowed somewhat. Nevertheless, Anderson kept busy guest-conducting various orchestras throughout the United States and Canada.

In May 1972, the Boston Pops paid tribute to Leroy Anderson’s career with a special concert dedicated to the composer’s life and music. Three years later, at the age of 66, Leroy Anderson passed away in his Woodbury, Connecticut home. Today, Leroy Anderson’s legacy lives on strongly both from continued live performances of his works and through recordings. In 1988, the composer was elected to the Songwriters Hall Of Fame, and in 2003 the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts dedicated a “Leroy Anderson Square” on Chatham Street—across from the house in which the composer grew up.

In short, Leroy Anderson has created a legacy that will continue for generations. This album is dedicated to celebrating that legacy.


During the years that Jelani Eddington has given concerts, he has established himself as one of the most prominent and sought-after artists on the concert circuit. Jelani has performed in most of the major theatre organ concert venues throughout the Untied States, has toured extensively abroad, and has received numerous awards and recognitions, including his selection as the 2001 Theatre Organist Of The Year.

Jelani was born in Muncie, Indiana to Louise Eddington and the late Robert Eddington and grew up in a very musical family. Between the interests of his mother, a professional music teacher of many years, and those of his grandmother, Florence Arnold, a well-respected piano instructor, it was no surprise when Jelani demonstrated an inclination toward music at a very early age.

Shortly after beginning piano instruction at the age of four, Jelani began studying classical piano under the direction of his grandmother. At the age of eight, a trip to hear the 4-manual 42-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ installed in the Indianapolis, Indiana restaurant, the Paramount Music Palace, introduced Jelani to the sounds of the theatre pipe organ. Soon thereafter, he began to pursue classical organ lessons and ultimately began studying theatre organ with John Ferguson, whose skills as a theatre organ instructor have been highly acclaimed internationally.

In the spring of 1988 at the age of 13, Jelani won the American Theatre Organ Society’s Young Theatre Organist Competition, prevailing over competitors worldwide ages 13-21. Since that time, Jelani has been featured at numerous national and regional conventions of the American Theatre Organ Society, and has toured extensively throughout the world.

In August 2001, the American Theatre Organ Society honored Jelani’s extensive career as a concert and recording organist by naming him the 2001 Theatre Organist Of The Year. Having received the award at the age of 27, Jelani remains the youngest-ever recipient of this prestigious honor.


Leroy Anderson was a masterful orchestrator. As such, faithful recreation of his orchestrations on a theatre pipe organ requires an instrument capable of performing orchestral music with the highest degree of subtlety. The 5-manual, 80-rank Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ featured on this recording was the natural choice of instrument, as it has been tonally engineered to provide the widest and most sophisticated array of orchestral color that any pipe organ could ever hope to achieve. The late organ builder David Junchen set about to create an instrument that would be acknowledged as the last word in theatre pipe organs. He succeeded.

The Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ heard on this album began its life many years ago.
The owners of the instrument, Jasper and Marian Sanfilippo fell in love with the sounds of the theatre pipe organ in the mid-1980s and decided to install a pipe organ in their home in Barrington, Illinois. That first instrument was a 4-manual, 14-rank Wurlitzer (Opus 1571), originally installed in the Riviera Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska. David Junchen enlarged the organ to 28 ranks and installed it in the Sanfilippo’s first music room (which was a long, narrow room with a length of 76 feet and width of 24 feet).

In 1987, Jasper and David began to discuss plans to construct a much larger music room to house an much larger instrument. Ultimately, a new music salon was constructed, the final dimensions of which measure 100 feet long (with an additional 20 feet of length for the organ chambers), 64 feet wide, and 42 feet high. The pipe organ also grew from 28 to 80 ranks of pipework carefully selected from across the country. The organ’s 5,000+ pipes speak from five chambers in the front of the music room (Main, Foundation, Solo, Orchestral, and Percussion), and from an Ethereal Chamber in the back of the room.

All in all, Junchen’s vision for the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer was to create a pipe organ capable of performing an unprecedented array of musical styles. This was the precise type of instrument needed to recreate music as orchestrally rich and complex as that composed by Leroy Anderson.


1. Blue Tango (June 28, 1951)

The first volume of this centennial celebration begins with a composition that is at the pinnacle of Anderson’s most enduring and best-known works. Ironically, the composer first sketched out Blue Tango in 1947 but promptly forgot about it, doubting the work had any commercial value. Nonetheless, the piece went on in 1952 to become the first instrumental ever to reach the number one position on the hit parade, and Anderson’s recording of Blue Tango sold well over a million copies! Leroy Anderson had quite a flare for drawing upon traditional dance forms and injecting his unique approach and style into them. This work, based on the rhythmic dance form of the tango, was first recorded by Leroy Anderson and his orchestra in June 1951 for Decca Records.

2. The Phantom Regiment (May 23, 1951)

The Phantom Regiment is a typical Anderson tone poem depicting a distant military regiment that mysteriously approaches out of the past, marches by, then fades away back into the past. Leroy Anderson’s orchestration of this composition is extremely fitting as he builds up the orchestra from a whisper to an almighty roar – accentuated by the thundering crash cymbal – and then follows with a decrescendo back to a whisper. The “phantom-like” nature of this piece is underscored by the periodic use of the organ’s snare drum located in the far reaches of the Main Chamber.

3. The First Day Of Spring (June 28, 1954)

One of Anderson’s most lyrical compositions, The First Day Of Spring beautifully weaves a lovely melody line with lush harmonies. In this work, Anderson skillfully trades the melody among the woodwinds, brass, and strings in a way that creates a highly colorful orchestration. From the full string ensembles to the single-note French Horn melodies, the vastness of color in the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer complements Anderson’s composition beautifully.

4. Clarinet Candy (June 9, 1962)

By the early 1960s, the pace of Anderson’s composing output had slowed from the rapid tempo of the 1940s and 1950s. Nevertheless, Clarinet Candy – which in essence was a Bugler’s Holiday or Fiddle-Faddle for the clarinets – was a most successful and highly entertaining work. Scored for six clarinets, this work is performed using the three clarinet ranks in the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer (including one large-scale clarinet in the Orchestral Chamber known as the Basset Horn).

5. The Syncopated Clock (April 1945)
(Temple blocks: Jeffrey DeRoche, Cow bell: Eric Derr)

The Syncopated Clock, another Leroy Anderson classic, pays tribute to the composer’s musical wit and sense of humor. Anderson actually wrote the work while serving in Military Intelligence at the Pentagon having returned from active duty following World War II. Conductor Arthur Fiedler had invited Anderson to guest conduct the Boston Pops, which prompted the composer to try to create a new work for use as an encore. While many had composed music about or suggesting “normal” clocks, Anderson decided to have some fun and depict an ill-tempered “syncopated” clock. The tune was so successful that it became the theme for many years on the CBS television program, The Late Show.

6. The Waltzing Cat (February 21, 1950)
(Dog bark: Max Van Der Molen, Cat hiss: Mr. R. P. Johnson)

One of the many fortés of Anderson’s composing genius lies in his ability to use the instruments of the orchestra to depict non-orchestral sounds – in this case, the characteristic “meow” of a kitten. In the orchestral version, the portamento of the strings creates this effect, echoed by the woodwinds. The Sanfilippo Wurlitzer replicates this idea through the use of the 4’ string ranks in various chambers, echoed by the Brass Trumpet in the Solo Chamber. In the middle section of this work, some of the uncommon traps and effects of the organ – including the slide whistle and ACME siren – get a workout.

7-13. Medley From “Goldilocks”

In the mid-1950s, Leroy Anderson embarked on one of the most ambitious projects of his career: composing the score to a Broadway musical. Anderson joined forces with Walter Kerr, a longtime and well-respected theatre critic from the New York Herald Tribune, and Walter’s wife, Jean. The team set out on a mission to create a score for a musical titled Goldilocks. The musical comedy was set in 1913 and recounted the tale of silent-movie actress Maggie Harris and her adventures with cantankerous movie producer Max Grady. After more than a year of work, including collaboration with choreographer Agnes de Mille and orchestrator Phil Lang, the musical premiered on October 11, 1958 at the Lunt-Fontanne Theater in New York with Elaine Stritch and Don Ameche in the leading roles. Disappointingly, the musical was not as successful as hoped and closed after 161 performances on February 28, 1959. Following the close of the Broadway production, Anderson re-orchestrated the music for the entire show to make his compositions suitable for stand-alone orchestral performance.

7. Overture / The Pussy Foot (February 26, 1962)

The overture from Goldilocks is based on Leroy’s re-orchestration and segues into the whimsical tune, The Pussy Foot.

8-11. Lazy Moon, Town House Maxixe, Shall I Take My Heart And Go?, I Never Know When To Say When (October 1958)

The next four selections in the Goldilocks tribute are presented in medley form. Of particular note in this grouping is the bluesy torch-song, I Never Know When To Say When – often lauded by reviewers, and Anderson’s only excursion into the torch song genre. Additionally, Town House Maxixe is a delightful work based on the “maxixe” (pronounced “ma-sheesh”) – a Brazilian dance and predecessor to the samba.

12. Pirate Dance (February 22, 1961)

Pirate Dance was the swashbuckling dance routine finale to the first act of Goldilocks and is presented in its entirety as Anderson re-orchestrated the work.

13. Pyramid Dance (Spring 1959)

Known in the musical under the title Heart Of Stone, Pyramid Dance is an energetic tour de force, and is the musical number that brings the musical Goldilocks to its completion. This work is also presented in its entirety as the composer re-orchestrated it.

14. The Golden Years (May 31, 1962)

One of Anderson’s most beautiful compositions, The Golden Years is a very evocative and reflective melody, suggesting through its title the so-called “golden years” of one’s life. This ballad begins in its opening phrases with quiet, repeated quintuplet phrases that return throughout the composition and bring it to a triumphant finish.

15. The Typewriter (October 9, 1950) (Typewriter effects performed on a period Remmington manual office typewriter by Jelani Eddington and Chris Gorsuch)

Only Leroy Anderson could compose a piece that required a manual office typewriter as the solo instrument! The Typewriter is one of Anderson’s most ingenious creations, and, notwithstanding the nearly complete disappearance of manual typewriters from offices today, it still remains one of the composer’s most beloved compositions.

16. A Trumpeter’s Lullaby (September 22, 1949)

The trumpet is an instrument frequently associated with fanfare and great bravado, as Anderson effectively captured in his show-stopping Bugler’s Holiday. A Trumpeter’s Lullaby, on the other hand, shows off the softer, more melodic side of the instrument. The transcription of this arrangement on the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer gives an excellent opportunity to explore many of the different trumpet voices in the organ: from the subdued Chorus Trumpet that carries the majority of the melody, to the Imperial Trumpet, mounted horizontally from the back wall of the music room.

17. Ticonderoga March (1945)

Once again, Leroy Anderson demonstrates his ability to take a classic compositional form and make it his own. This time, the creation comes in the form of a march reminiscent of the style of John Phillip Sousa. The title, Ticonderoga March, instantly evokes a very “Americana” feel, and the work demonstrates the composer’s ability to write successfully in many different idioms.

18. The Penny-Whistle Song (June 3, 1951)

The Penny-Whistle Song is a beautiful and melodic nod to the flute section of the orchestra. The delicate sound of the flutes playing in unison is faithfully recreated on the Wurlitzer with the 4’ Rohrflute, Lieblich Flute, and Harmonic Flute.

19-24. The Irish Suite (June 6, 1947; May 3, 1949; June 14, 1949)

The Irish Suite, originally called “Eire Suite,” is a masterful orchestral recreation of six traditional Irish folk tunes. The suite was dedicated to Boston Pops conductor Arthur Fiedler and was commissioned by the Eire Society of Boston for a Pops Concert on June 6, 1947. The suite originally contained four movements (The Irish Washerwoman, The Minstrel Boy, The Last Rose Of Summer, and The Rakes Of Mallow) and were written an astonishing twelve days prior to the concert. Two years later, in 1949, Anderson composed and added to the suite The Wearing Of The Green and The Girl I Left Behind Me.

19. The Irish Washerwoman (June 6, 1947)

The suite begins with this stirring 6/8-meter jig that is perhaps one of the best known pieces of traditional Irish music. Anderson’s arrangement also demonstrates his penchant for counterpoint with an extended fugue in the center section played on the strings.

20. The Minstrel Boy (June 6, 1947) (Snare drum: Jeffrey DeRoche)

The haunting melody of The Minstrel Boy is underscored by Anderson’s use of the snare drum, which calls to mind a distant army. The score itself even remarks in places: “like distant cannon.”

21. The Rakes Of Mallow (June 6, 1947)

The Rakes Of Mallow is a high-spirited folk tune, first published around 1740. In the vernacular, “Mallow” is a town in County Cork, and a “rake” is a rowdy young man. Anderson’s orchestration aptly calls to mind images of youthful dancing and carousing.

22. The Wearing Of The Green (May 3, 1949)

The Wearing Of The Green is a street ballad that dates from about 1798, and is credited to the composer Dion Boucicault. Anderson’s orchestration of this tune carries the melody line as a pizzicato scherzo, injecting new life into this traditional favorite.

23. The Last Rose Of Summer (June 6, 1947)

This beautiful composition has been used by many composers throughout the years, including Mendelssohn, Beethoven, and Flotow, who introduced the song in his opera Martha. Anderson’s orchestration calls for the strings to carry the melody line, and the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer faithfully recreates those haunting sounds.

24. The Girl I Left Behind Me (June 14, 1949)

The Girl I Left Behind Me is certainly one of Anderson’s most complex orchestrations and is a powerful way to bring the Irish Suite both to a climax and conclusion. The many layers of Anderson’s arrangement pay tribute to his prowess as an orchestrator.

25. Serenata (February 12, 1947)

Serenata is Leroy Anderson’s first composition to develop the Latin-American genre and has remained one of the composer’s best-known and most frequently performed works. At almost four minutes in length, it is also Anderson’s longest orchestral “miniature.” The composer fills those four minutes with a very complex orchestration, alternating between the busy opening theme in a minor key and the broader theme in a major key. In 1950, Mitchell Parish skillfully added lyrics to the piece.

26. Arietta (June 1962)

An example of a decidedly different side to Anderson’s composing personality, Arietta (meaning “little song”) is written in a classical two-part form. The main melody for the work was conceived as a brief eight-measure sketch for viola and cello. The composer initially wrote the composition to be played by his daughter, Jane, on the viola accompanied by himself on the cello. Ultimately, Anderson expanded the work for full orchestra.

27. The Captains And The Kings (June 16, 1962)

This composition is a delightful example of the composer’s affinity for changing meter between 2/4 and 3/4 time. This march (inasmuch as a march can alternate between measures of 2 and 3 beats) recalls lines from Rudyard Kipling’s Recessional: “[t]he tumult and the shouting dies. The Captains and the Kings depart.” Anderson himself commented that the middle section has “a human rather than regal melody,” noting that “[k]ings are human beings after all, which is about all that can be said for most of them.” The Sanfilippo Wurlitzer very ably recreates this stately work.

28. Easter Song (completion date unknown) (arr. Jelani Eddington)

It is a great honor to be able to present on this album the world premiere recording of a work Leroy Anderson composed specifically for the organ, Easter Song. Although the composer was an organist, he wrote very little for the organ, making the discovery of this piece (along with Anderson’s Cambridge Centennial March Of Industry—volume 2, track 21), a significant musical event. Composed in the style of a liturgical hymn, the work bears the inscription “Organ” at the top of the score and is marked “refrain for intro. 3 verses.” The first repeat of the main theme is played in a very traditional liturgical style, with the harmonization that the composer specifically scored. The second reprise is improvisational in nature, with the melody played very subtly on quiet reeds accompanied by soft celestes. The final reprise features the “big guns” of the Sanfilippo Wurlitzer and reintroduces the melody in a new key on one two Trompettes en Chamade mounted horizontally from the back wall of the music room.


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