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Douglas Steele


Martin Cooke
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One of our parishioners happened to mention this organist and composer the other day. He seems to have written a few pieces of organ music and I wondered if anyone knows any or has any recollections. In a review of a CD of his music, an Arioso  is especially commended, but I can't pin the sheet music down online. Any clues, anybody?

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  • 4 weeks later...

I play the Prelude On Gibbons Angel's Song having been introduced to it when I was a chorister at St.George's Stockport, where he lived.  A charming little piece.

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Yes, 'charming' is just right - though,  as it happens, when I needed a piece based on that tune at church recently, I needed something with more 'oomph' and used the Dyson - not the vacuum cleaner, you understand - Dyson, as in George, and 'in D.'

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Selected Pieces looks very good value. How many are for organ?

There is a two C.D. set Autumn Sequence - The Music of Douglas Steele and his circle issued by Campion Cameo. Reviewed here:

http://www.musicweb-international.com/classrev/2005/aug05/Steele_autumn_cameo204041.htm

The organ pieces are rather close miked. For my taste could do with a bit more space to let them breathe (not a criticism of the playing).

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In answer to yourt query about how many of the pieces are organ, Dafydd...

Intrada - two stave - marked for piano or organ

Prelude in D flat - piano

Pavane Nos 1, 2 & 3 - piano

Slow Air - piano or harpsichord - (it looks as though it could work very well on the organ but I haven't tried)

Carol - piano

In the Style of a Sarabande - piano

Sarabande - piano

From a Holiday Sketchbook - piano

A Little Lyric Piece - piano

On a Birthday Morning - piano

Serenade - piano

Envoi - piano

Musical Box - piano

On the Triad - marked piano or organ

From an Organ Sketchbook - organ (unsurprisingly!)

Arioso - organ - the most substantial (longest) piece in the volume

Three Pieces on Hymn Tunes - organ

On Norman Cocker's 'Ryburn' - organ

On Gibbons' Angel's Song - organ

 

We have already used the word 'charming' in respect of the Gibbons piece but it is an adjective that applies to the production of the volume too. There is a very good introduction by John Turner, of Stockport, whose project it was to get it all into print (by subscription) and it is interwoven with delightful line drawings by a John Stanley  of scenes from Cornwall where Douglas Steele spent a good deal of his holiday time composing this volume of largely miniatures. It is actually called 'Volume 1' and Mr Turner, in his introduction refers to 'these volumes.' There is a Volume 2 and this is a collection of songs by DS and I haven't purchased it.

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Did the OP manage to get a copy?

Douglas Steele taught me at Chet's (some classroom music).  He was delightful in a "Private Godfrey" sort of way.  I remember him making an arrangement of "A fox went out" for our junior choir. 

As I recall, at one time, he had been Beecham's assistant and his reminiscences contributed to the play "Beecham".  He was also, I think, great friends with Humphrey Procter-Gregg.

In 1986 I was introduced to Arioso by its dedicatee, Gordon Thorne, and purchased my copy of Douglas' organ music shortly after.  The edition was one of a series made by Forsyths in Manchester (I think of composers associated with that city).

 

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