Spreckels’ Fancy (A Festive Piece for Organ) was commissioned by the Spreckels Organ Society (Dr. Carol Williams, Civic Organist) in celebration of the 90th anniversary year of The Great Spreckels Organ in Balboa Park, San Diego, California. Dedicated in 1914, the historic outdoor Spreckels pipe organ was the gift of John D. and Adolph Spreckels. It was built by the Austin Organ Company of Hartford, Connecticut and contains 4,518 pipes that create 73 ranks. The World Premiere of Spreckels’ Fancy was given by Carol Williams at Opening Night! in Balboa Park on 20 June 2005.
Spreckels’ Fancy was composed during March and early April of 2005. It is approximately six minutes in length and is in three primary parts. The opening and closing toccata sections flank the slower, laid-back multi-sectioned middle part. The composition opens with three vibrant measures of fast downward notes in the manuals consisting of only the pitches D, C, B-flat, G, F. These pitches later become the harmonic basis for the middle section of the piece. After the flourish of downward pitches, a virtuosic pedal solo emerges with the first melodic idea of the piece. At the end of the pedal solo the opening five pitches return, this time ascending. A second melodic idea related to the first (the primary idea of this section) now appears in the pedal and propels this opening toccata. The multi-sectioned middle part soon emerges, which is jazzy in spirit and consists of five self-contained portions of music, each of which is based on the composition’s opening notes and a resultant chord: D (D-major), F (F-major), G (G-major), B-flat (B-flat minor) and C (C-major) appearing together in the fanfare-like fourth section, with D (D-major) returning for the fifth. In each self-contained segment these chords form the sole harmonic material and are constantly recycled. Each of the five parts of the middle section of the piece also explores different colors and divisions of the organ. The first part highlights a solo reed accompanied by the foundations stops of the organ. The second part – a whimsical one – is a dialogue between the diapason color and the flutes of the organ. The third features the lushness of the celeste strings of the organ, with the fourth part presenting the reeds of the organ in the spirit of a fanfare. The music of the fifth part is like that of the first, but with the registration being full. Reflecting the quick tempo of the opening of the composition, a fast tempo bridge segment over a D-pedal point now emerges and leads to a return of the primary idea of the opening section of the piece. Now centered on the pitch B, the climax of the piece is eventually reached as the opening five pitches D, C, B-flat, G and F are heard in the descending top voice in long notes in the midst of challenging double-pedaling. A brief return of the harmony that opened the middle section of the piece reappears just before Spreckels’ Fancy ends with a dramatic pedal glissando.
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
6 April 2005