Henry Walford Davies

Solemn Melody for organ

    Description by Joseph Stevenson

    This lovely and touching tune is one of a very few short works by this composer that continue to be played and thus keep his name alive as a composer. It is a fine enough piece that it leads the listener to wonder if the neglect of his larger-scale music is justifiable.

    Henry Walford Davies (1869 - 1941) is from Welsh stock, though he was born in the English county of Shropshire, on the Welsh border. He composed two symphonies, other orchestral music, a fair amount of chamber music, and a large number of choral and vocal works of various sizes. Even during his life he saw that he was gaining very few performances, and although he did not give up composing, he had to become reconciled to the fact that his main occupation was in the field of university music teaching and studies, and, beginning, in 1926, with popularizing classical music on his well-received BBC radio program Music and the Ordinary Listener and in his 1935 book The Pursuit of Music.

    But as a composer he is represented only by a few short works including some church anthems (the most famous is Let Us Now Praise Famous Men), the World War I favorite R.A.F. March Past, and this Solemn Melody.

    Solemn Melody first appeared in 1908 in a version for organ and strings. Davies adapted it for full orchestra later. It is in a simple song form. The tune is rich, warm, and flowing, and avoids either a feeling of British pomp or a sense of religiosity.

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    2013 Acis Productions / ARTS APL 89385
    2010 Signum Classics / Signum UK 223
    2009 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 2642292
    2009 EMI Classics / EMI Music Distribution / Warner Classics 5099996426
    2009 Regis Records 1304
    2009 Regent 279
    2008 Priory Records 5003
    2007 Organ Historical Society 2
    2005 Decca 4756828
    2004 Chandos 24117
    2002 Dutton Laboratories 7108
    2001 Guild 7212
    2001 Priory Records 3000
    2001 Gothic Records 49122
    2000 ASV 6160
    2000 Priory Records 569
    2000 Marco Polo 225048
    1999 Afka 546
    1998 Hyperion 67060
    1995 Hallmark Recordings 35039
    1995 Philips 442530
    1995 Hallmark Recordings 350282
    1995 Herald Records 169
    1994 Arkay Records 6143
    1992 Chandos 6518
    1988 Cors 141601
    Pickwick 11019
    Decca 411929