Welsh Tunes

Six organ preludes on Welsh hymn-tunes, varying in treatment from ornamental chorale to passacaglia.

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Marilyn Biery (1, 3, 4) James Biery (2, 5, 6), organ of the Cathedral of Saint Paul. Audio engineer: Michael Osborne. Used by permission.


Welsh Tunes (out of print)

Organ solo 24′
Premiere—2003, by James and Marilyn Biery, Saint Paul, MN.
Published by Augsburg Fortress.
We regret that this item is out-of-print.
Contact Augsburg Fortress.

  • Llanfair
  • Sûo Gan
  • Cwm Rhondda
  • Aberystwyth
  • Rhys
  • St. Denio: Variations on a Ground

Program Notes

Welsh town on the sea

Aberaeron, Wales, 2002

In the summer of 2002 I made my first visit to Wales, and spent two weeks wandering along the rocky coast through Pembrokeshire and Cardiganshire. I knew only that my paternal great-grandfather Thomas Bennett Thomas was Welsh, that he had come to the U.S. as a teenager in the 1860s, and that he had preached to congregations in both Welsh and English (a “prominent pulpiteer,” his obituary read). A family tree (from 1956, two years before I was born) gave several place names, among them Aberaeron, a harbor town on the west coast which turned out to be the ancestral home. I looked at thousands of gravestones there, and indeed found ancestors, but I also found living relatives descended from my great-grandfather: a lively 85-year-old aunt, and two cousins—one a librarian at the House of Lords in London—who gave me a private tour of Westminster. I’m now proud to know that I am a member of one of the oldest families in that lovely seaside town.

On returning to the States, I wrote six preludes on Welsh hymn-tunes, each dedicated to an organist friend. The bookends go to Marilyn and Jim Biery, respectively, organists whose encouragement and marvelous playing have inspired me to write a considerable amount of organ music. “Llanfair” opens the set with toccata and martial elements between tune bursts; “St. Denio” closes it by treating the tune as a ground bass with variations. Two preludes are cantus firmus chorales: the popular folk lullaby “Sûo Gan” (to Norma Aamodt-Nelson) presents the tune in the soprano (but in the pedal); “Rhys” (to Barbara Gulick) places it in the tenor. “Cwm Rhondda” (to Nancy Lancaster) freely elaborates tune motives in a ternary form. “Aberystwyth” is an ornamental chorale, a gift to my father—whose forebears come from that coastal university town—on his 80th birthday.

Additional information

Weight 0.25 lbs



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