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Music for Manuals - Synthesizers, Small Organs,
& Keyboardists migrating to Organ.

Synthesizers, electronic "continuos", or "manuals only":   There exists an abundance of marvelous music written specifically for a single keyboard organ or a harmonium.  When one confronts the synthesizer in a church venue, all too often the immediate reaction is to consider the synth as merely a "portable plastic piano".  When a commercial grade synthesizer is called upon to be a tool for worship, its rich tonal resources can emulate orchestral string, flute, and other woodwind timbres,  which are right at home with the organ and harmonium literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Additionally there is a body of organ literature written expressly for either one manual organ or multiple manual instruments without extensive pedalboards - 18th century and earlier British instruments, early French and Italian Instruments, and several early American organs.

Keyboardists faced with migrating to an organ:  The keyboard player who already possesses some keyboard skills, who is migrating to an organ with a pedalboard, can convincingly use much of this music - just judiciously add some occasional ad-libbed "pedal moments".

OnLine "24/7" Sheet Music Stores page


I.  Locating Organ "Manual" Editions OnLine:

These will often be collections of various composers from a range of time periods, unless otherwise specified.

ALLEGRO MUSIC:  Click on the "organ catalogue", choose "select by word or phrase" and enter "manual" as the selection term at:  The search returns about 160 entries! You can order directly from this British seller with your credit card in U.S. funds - conversion to UK Pounds is done internally through the credit card company.  Note: Current exchange rate for UK Pounds to U.S. Dollars is approximately 1.00 Pound UK = $1.45 US.

OHS:  Several collections "without pedals" or "for manuals" are listed in the Organ Historical Society catalogue (under Collections or Anthologies of Sheet Music), includes music across several time periods, at: .

C.F.PETERS:  For music with an decidedly 18th century English flavor,  nineteen of C.F.Peters editions of the  "Tallis to Wesley" (Hinrichsen) appear to still be in print - just enter  Tallis to Wesley  in the title search field at the Peters web site catalogue.

II.  19th & 20th Century Compositions for Organ & Harmonium: 

These will often be actual literature for the instrument and the level of difficulty will range from sight readable to definitely non-trivial.  Some contents will be on two staves with some indications for pedal, other works may be on three staves.  The three composers listed below are French, other composers and styles from this period also exist.

Dom Paul Benoit O.S.B.:   Dom Paul wrote many organ compositions that transfer to manuals only (harmonium) which work amazingly on the synthesizer also.  His organ compositions are melodic in a somewhat French impressionistic style.  At the web site on the "Compositions and Ordering" page are listed:  50 Elevations (organ), 60 Devotional Pieces (organ), 41 Elevations (harmonium) along with The Chant Interior (harmonium) both now part of edition PB 24, and 7 Pieces for Organ or Harmonium.  Some works have pedal parts, many which are intended for organ or harmoium, do not.  The 50 Elevations and the 60 Devotional Pieces (Warner) can be ordered from  Sheet Music Plus - note however that even though many selections work as manuals only, these two collections are not uniquely two stave, as are the 41 Elevations.

Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911):  L'Organiste Liturgique, Op. 65, published by Masters Music Publications, Inc., in 5 books. Much of the contents are on two staves, even though there are indications for pedal, much is renderable on manuals only.  Books 1-5 are available through the Organ Historical Society website noted above for $6.95 each - note: only book 1 is listed, but all are available from OHS. Noels, Op. 60, available from Schott in two volumes ED7346 & ED7347. "Noels" does not connote Christmas here, instead the contents are Offertoires, Elevations, Communions, etc. for organ.  Much of the contents are on two staves as the above Op. 65 - also available through the Allegro Music web site noted above.  L'Organiste Pratique - includes several Opus numbers - is published by Schott in 12 volumes which are available on the Allegro Music web site noted above, which are refferenced on the Harmonium web site under "it's music" listed next below.

The Harmonium Home Page ( is a fascinating of source of information about the instrument and it's musicA whole section of the site is devoted to listing works for the harmonium by major composers.  The names of several of the noted organ composers of the period are included in the list.

Louis Vierne:  24 Pieces en style libre pour Orgue ou Harmonium (24 Pieces in Free Style for Organ or Harmonium) is published in two volumes available through the OHS noted above at: volume 1 & volume 2 .

III.  Orchestral Keyboard Reductions:

A useful item to consider too are the keyboard reductions of popularly requested "classical" orchestral music, ...which you just know you're going to be asked to play. 

A supberb collection:  The Oxford Book of Wedding Music For Manuals; Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-375123-2.  Also available as an edition with pedals.  An indespensible collection of many must have standards. Arranged by Malcolm Archer.

Handel:  Water Musick - arr. for piano solo by Granville Bantock;  Paxton Music Ltd. #15674(Novello) - contains 21 movements of the suite. Granville Bantock's keyboard reductions are quite good.

Handel:  Royal Fireworks Musick - arr. for piano solo by Granville Bantock; Paxton Music Ltd. #15675(Novello) - 6 movments of the suite.  Similar texture to the above edition.

Bach:  Brandenburg Notebook - thematic selections (only) from Brandenburg concerti 1 through 6 by J.S.Bach, 36 p., arr. for intermediate piano solo by Fred Kern (listed as "Karn" on SheetMusicPlus); Warner Bros., EL 9547  -  unless you do your own reduction a-la Max Reger's piano arrangement for four hands ...or have an extra pair of hands grafted onto your body, this is about it. Difficulty is above the Anna Magdalena Notebook yet easier than the Two-Part Inventions.  The direct link takes you to SheetMusicPlus, but for some reason you can't pull it up by searching "bach" and "brandenberg". This is a single edition of what used to be two seperate publications.

Vivaldi:  The Four Seasons "Le Quattro Stagioni" by Antonio Vivaldi - four themes (only) arranged for piano by Fred Kern; 12 p., C.P.P.Belwin, PA02250 - The direct link takes you to SheetMusicPlus, several other arrangements exist for organ, instrument and keyboard, etc.

IV.  Suggestions shared in organ related e-mail discussion groups:

J.S. Bach:
1. Two and Three Part Inventions
2. Preludes and Fuges from the Well-Tempered Clavier
3. Middle section of the St. Anne Fugue
4. Some of the manualiter chorale preludes from the Clavieruebung

5. 80 Chorale Preludes (Peters edition) - some selections
6. Johann Pachelbel Partitas (Kalmus, vol. 4) have several sections without pedal
7. Old English Organ Music for Manuals (C.H. Trevor; Oxford) - six volumes
8. Organ Music for Manuals Only (Charles Callahan; Morning Star)


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