After study in Frankfurt and Paris, the Amsterdam-born musician Edward Silas (1827-1909) came to England, making his home and career in London from 1852 until his death. He composed many piano, stage and orchestral works, but his most enduring contribution was his œuvre for organ which ran to some thirty-eight works, published between 1868 and 1905. Of all the Victorian organist-composers his style is the most cosmopolitan, encompassing German fantasy, English religiosity, Italian melody and French sensibility in about equal measure. He has the ability to spin a wonderful melody, for example in the opening section of his Fantasia on St Ann’s Hymn
where it unfolds in the manuals above a gently ruminating statement of the hymn theme in the pedals (‘O God, our help in ages past’). The second section, ‘Allegro con spirito’, shows that he, like Best, was capable of virtuoso writing for both manuals and pedals.
from notes by Graham Barber © 2003