Mr. Pelham’s Minuet, Varied (2020)
Erik Simmons, organ
Duration: 4 min.
Dedication: for Beckie and JanEl
Mr. Pelham’s Minuet, Varied (2020) is based on music published in a copybook connected to Peter Pelham (1721–1805), an important musician in colonial America who worked in Newport, Boston (as the first organist of Trinity Church), Charleston, and eventually Williamsburg (Virginia). Born in London, Pelham came to America at age five and was a student of Charles Pachelbel (son of the famed Johann Pachelbel). Besides historical letters and records of Pelham’s activities, a musical copybook from 1744 survives. This book, belonging to an aristocratic student of Pelham’s, contains music notated from frequent keyboard lessons.
This organ piece is dedicated to Rebecca Davy and JanEl Will, musicians at Bruton Parish, the church that Pelham also served. A classical-style minuet from this manuscript (very likely by Pelham himself) is heard first in its original form. This music is then “varied” into a contemporary, rhythmic toccata.