Occasional Notes


Occasional Notes


for organ

not available for digital download
Organist Robert Gallagher

Organist Robert Gallagher

  • Premiere: 28 March 1985  / Saint Paul's Chapel, Columbia University, New York City, New York  / Robert Gallagher, organ
  • Instrumentation: organ
  • Duration: 24'

1. Meditation No. 1 (to Joseph Schwantner)
2. Consider the Rain (in memoriam, Marc Blitzstein)
3. Anniversary (to David Diamond)
4. First Snow (to Ned Rorem)
5. Wauwatosa Polka (to William Coble)
6. Look Down, Fair Moon (to Robert Gallagher)
7. Meditation No. 8 (in memoriam, Norman Stumpf)

Saint Paul's Chapel, Columbia University

Program Note

This suite is seminal in so many ways. Hagen's first published composition (E.C. Schirmer released it in 1985, and it remains in print), it contains ideas that formed the basis of themes for over a dozen later, and larger works in his catalogue.

Meditation No. 1 began as a piece for violin and piano and was completed on 4 December 1982 in Philadelphia. It was revised in Jauary of 1985 in New York City before being folded into the suite. Consider the Rain was completed on 13 December 1984 in New York City. The music is original, but the title refers to the ensemble piece from Marc Blitzstein's opera Regina, a personal favourite of the composer's. Anniversary was composed on 14 November 1984 in New Haven, Connecticut. First Snow was composed in New York City on 10 December 1984. The oldest movement in the suite is the Wauwatosa Polka, which is the only movement rescued from the otherwise withdrawn Three Dances for Piano of 1979. Accordingly, the little polka was first written for piano and completed in Madison, Wisconsin on 21 November 1979; it was revised for organ in January of 1985 in New York City.

Organist Robert Gallgher premiered Occasional Notes in 1985.

A letter from Leonard Raver to Daron about the suite, which he sent to Robert Schuneman at E.C. Schirmer with a letter urging Robert Schuneman to publish it. The piece became Hagen's first published work, and began a thirty-year relationship with Schuneman. Raver performed the piece relatively frequently over the ensuing years.

Look Down, Fair Moon was first sketched for solo piano on 4 April 1983 in New Haven, Connecticut; the composer revised it in January of 1985 for organ before insertion into the suite. Meditation No. 8 was first used as a chorale in Hagen's withdrawn 1983 memorial Symphony No. 2, eventually finding a home as the first theme of the final movement of Hagen's Symphony No. 1 (1988). However, the title used in this suite refers to the Walt Whitman Specimen Days text that Hagen set to it for the first movement of A Walt Whitman Requiem in 1984.

According to the composer's notes to the first published edition of the suite by E.C. Schirmer in 1988, 'The suite may be split up and performed as separate pieces; the order indicated in the score is suggested for performances of the entire suite. Robert Gallagher created the registrations indicated in the score; his playing was an inspiration throughout the compilation of the suite.'

Dedicated as a finished work to Leonard Raver (who first brought it to publisher Robert Schuneman's attention) and performed by him at Lincoln Center in its final form, the first performance was given by Robert Gallagher on 28 March 1985 at Saint Paul's Chapel of Columbia University in New York City.

(Banner photo: St. Paul's Chapel, Columbia, NYC)