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Celebrating the pipe organ, the King of Instruments

Barbara Harbach
Barbara Harbach

Women’s Work

Some things ARE mysterious - yet we’ll clarify any confusion on this week’s Pipedreams program, as we explore five centuries of the little-known history of music by women composers for the pipe organ. Dr. Barbara Harbach is our tour guide, introducing us to works by historic figures such as Elizabeth Stirling, Amy Beach, and Jeanne Demessieux, and present-day folk like Mary Jeanne van Appledorn, Marga Richter, and Edith Borroff. From Preludes to Psalm Tunes, Solemn Dirges to Celebratory Alleluias, it’s a world of emotion and expression, recorded on location at All Saints Episcopal Church, Atlanta.


Program Broadcast dates:

Selections from this week’s program in RealAudio format; How to Listen:

Elizabeth Stirling [1819-1895]: England’s first recognized organ recitalist; she was rejected by Oxford University, even though she met its academic standards; she was a great advocate of the music of Bach.
Audio Barbara Harbach discussion   Audio Musical excerpt

Amy Cheny [Mrs. H.H.A] Beach [1867-1944] America’s first woman composer of symphonic music, largely self-taught; also a virtuoso pianist.
Audio Barbara Harbach discussion   Audio Musical excerpt

Gwyneth Walker [born 1947]: cofounder and director of the Vermont Composer’s Consortium; lives on a dairy farm and has been composing full-time since 1982.
Audio Barbara Harbach discussion   Audio Musical excerpt

Music played in the program

BARBARA HARBACH: Fanfare and Toccata on Lasst uns erfreuen [Also available on compact disc Gasparo CD-294]

ROBERTA BITGOOD: On an Ancient Alleluia [1958]


MISS STEEMSON: A Dirge for Funerals [1780]

GWYNETH WALKER: In Celebration [1990]

JEANNE DEMESSIEUX: Prelude & Fugue in C, Opus 13

VIOLET ARCHER: Fughetta, from Sonatina [Also available on compact disc Gasparo CD-294]

AMY CHENY BEACH: Prelude on an Old Folk Tune, The Fair Hills of Eire

ELIZABETH STIRLING: Chorale & Fugue; Psalm 104
–(2003 Buzard/All Saints Episcopal, Atlanta, GA)


BARBARA HARBACH: Sommershimmer (1991 Marceau & Associates/St. Paul Episcopal, Bellingham, WA) Hester Park CD-7704

MARY JEANNE van APPLEDORN: Shabat Shalom (1991 Marceau & Associates/St. Paul Episcopal Church, Bellingham, WA) Hester Park CD-7704

EDITH BORROFF: Passacaglia [1946]

GRETE von ZIERITZ: Prelude & Fugue [1924]

MARGA RICHTER: Quantum Quirks of a Quick Quaint Quark [1992]

Filler –AMY CHENY BEACH (see above)


Performances are all by Barbara Harbach, recorded in recital by Pipedreams at All Saints Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA.

These selections are all available on CD-294: Women Composers for the Organ: Music Spanning Five Centuries from Gasparo Records available from Gasparo.com or major record retailers.

At present, Dr. Harbach is Visiting Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Her recordings and editions of women composers are available through Vivace Press. March is Women’s History Month and March 8 begins International Women’s Week.


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