Percy Whitlock (1903–1946) was assistant organist at Rochester Cathedral between 1921 and 1930 when he moved to become director of music at St Stephen’s, Bournemouth, a post he held for five years. In 1932 he was appointed borough organist at Bournemouth’s Municipal Pavilion, where he played regularly until his death. His name shone brightly as a performer and he earned a considerable reputation as a recitalist and broadcaster. Recent years have seen a renewed interest in his work – notably his substantial Sonata in C minor for solo organ (recorded by John Scott on Hyperion, CDA67470
) and Symphony in G minor for organ and orchestra. The efforts of the Percy Whitlock Trust – of which John Scott is President – in promoting Whitlock’s work, together with Malcolm Riley’s recently published book about the life and work of the composer, have contributed to sustained public interest in his music.
Many of Whitlock’s organ pieces are still regularly to be found in recital programmes today – principally because the music is tuneful and well crafted, exploring the resources of the organ of the inter-war years to full effect. The tendency to conservatism in his harmonic idiom has been frowned upon, but in an era when various strands in contemporary composition have welcomed a ‘revisionist romanticism’ his music seems more congruous with the musical world than it did in the years immediately after his death.
from notes by William McVicker © 2005