Volume I of the Critical Edition of the Organ Works of René Louis Becker

Damin Spritzer

Monday, June 20, 8 AM

This presentation provides an introduction to the rediscovered organ music of organist and composer René Louis Becker, who composed more than 180 works for the organ, over half of which currently remain in manuscript and which were completely unknown even before his death in 1956, and presents Volume I of the forth-coming multivolume critical editions (Leupold) of is music. Becker’s complete known oeuvre for organ includes 34 marches, 15 toccatas, three published large-scale sonatas, and numerous works styled as preludes, postludes, fantasies, fugues, and multiple small-scale compositions, the large majority of which are ideal for both church and recital. The rediscovery of these works, more than fifty of which were previously published in the early 1900s, presents an opportunity to introduce a large new body of sophisticated organ repertoire from a distinguished and accomplished American-Alsatian musician to the organ world. Born and educated in Strasbourg, Becker emigrated to the United States in 1904, founded a conservatory, and remained active professionally for the next 50 years in Illinois, Missouri, and Michigan.

The presentation will include a brief overview of Becker’s compositional style and extant organ works, sound recording samples, and an introduction to his largest-scale work for the organ (the five-movement First Sonata in G, op. 40), serving to establish Becker as one of the inheritors of the romantic tradition of the organ sonata and as a 20th century composer of note.

Assistant Professor of Organ at the University of Oklahoma, Dr. Damin Spritzer also served the Cathedral Church of St. Matthew in Dallas as Artist-in-Residence. Her playing has been praised for “enormous sensitivity and musicianship” (AAM Journal), and as “committed and eloquent” (Choir & Organ). Her degrees are from the University of North Texas, the Eastman School of Music, and the Oberlin Conservatory. Her first two commercial CD recordings are world-premiere discs of Becker’s organ works, recorded in France and released with RavenCD.com to critical acclaim. Two more volumes are forthcoming, focusing on Becker’s American years and on his unpublished manuscripts.