David McK. Williams
I have been trying to find information concerning the style of David McK. Williams hymn playing. He was organist at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York City. There have been bits and pieces on web searches, but nothing really in-depth. What I have read is that practically every important organist in the day would make a pilgrimage just to hear him play a service. Does anyone have any info about him and his hymn playing technique or what registrations he used at St. Barts?
Re: David McK. Williams
David Williams. while born in Denver, had a great affinity for English service playing. During the First World war he spent some time in London, and later, when organist at St. B's, he was responsible for the installation of the Dome organ there, not unlike the divisions in the quarter dome at St. Pauls.
He played hymns in what we called the "Grand manner". A very legato style. He taught his students to connect the bass and alto line of a hymn, while halving repeated notes in the tenor and soprano line. His method was to always double the last note of a hymn to assure the "predicatability" of the next verse for the congregation. Since he was also a composer, free accompaniments were common, often made up on the spot, as were improvisations between verses. Most of his hymn tempos were stately, and for the famous Evensong services, it was his custom to improvise on the first hymn and then go directly into the introduction.
Due to the size of the building, he had Mr. Harrison design a three manual Gallery organ at the back of the nave, This organ had it's own crescendo pedal and the front organ had another one. As he improvised and played hymns and anthem accompaniments, he made liberal use of these two shoes. The combinatiion action being rather minimal.
Because the Front organ was so large, as was the Gallery, and the dome organ was located directly over the crossing about 11 stories up, the effect of this master imporviser was quite stunning.
Harold Friedell suceeded him, and was himself an extrordinary improviser and he was followed by Jack Ossewaarde, a very gifted service player.They were both students of his.Paul Callaway, Vernon DeTar and Hugh Porter were among his other students. From the end of the first world war up until the 1980's, St. B's had among the finest service players of the 20th century.
You are correct that people came from all over the country and took something of this granduer back with them.
Close but not quite
[QUOTE=Pinehill;209399]David Williams. while born in Denver,
Not to take anything away from this wonderful description, I do need to point out that though Williams lived in Denver from the age of three months, he was born in Wales. At age 13 he became organist at St. Peter's Church here. (I followed him there for a two-year tenure, about 104 years after his departure.)