College foundation and early history explored in RCO Journal 2014

College foundation and early history explored in RCO Journal 2014

The 2014 edition of the Royal College of Organists’ annual research publication, RCO Journal, has been published.

With the College celebrating its 150th anniversary throughout 2014, the articles in RCO Journal Vol. 8 are based on papers presented at a special conference held at Somerville and Keble Colleges, Oxford, in April.

The conference, organised in collaboration with The Open University, was entitled The College of Organists examined: the foundation and early history of the RCO.

It examined the environment which led to the foundation of the College of Organists in 1864, and investigated the preoccupations of the College’s founding fathers and early members as they established a professional body for British organists, which eventually earned a Royal Charter in 1893.

The articles in RCO Journal based on this conference have been authored by Graham Barber, Martin Clarke, Timothy Day, Rosemary Golding, Peter Horton, Andrew McCrea, Nicholas Thistlethwaite and David Wright.

Vol. 8 of RCO Journal is available free of charge to Royal College of Organists members as a download or in print on request (visit for details).

The Journal is just one of the downloads available on the College’s newly updated Academic Resources pages, an area of the College website which holds a variety of previously published material, and now features a new page designed to make available rare music and other items from the RCO Library and Archive.

The first in a series of rare prints to feature is Theophania Cecil’s Twelve Voluntaries for Organ of c.1810.

Theophania Cecil (1782–1879) was for many years the organist of St John’s Chapel, Bedford Row, London.

RCO Director of Academic Development explained: “At the time Cecil compiled her set, William Russell had broken new ground both in terms of stylistic reach and the exploitation of the English organ’s enlarged tonal and technical resources (including the use of pedals), and another contemporary, Samuel Wesley, was busy exploring his own, often dramatic blend of melodic and contrapuntal writing in his Voluntaries, Op. 6.

“Published in London, Cecil’s set of voluntaries features a not-unexpected combination of characteristic keyboard styles associated with the late-classical period in England.

“What is of particular interest in this set is Cecil’s employment of pedal using both two- and three-stave systems.”

The digitisation of this print has been made possible through the generosity of an RCO member. Information about sponsoring further digitisation of Library material can be obtained from Frances Pond, RCO Library Manager, at or 0121 331 7266.

Information about obtaining print copies of previous volumes of RCO Journal (first series 1993–1996, and the second series from 2007) and the RCO Yearbook (1999/2000–2004/2005) may also be obtained from the Library Manager.

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