Thomas Murray (organist)
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Thomas Mantle Murray (b. October 6, 1943 in Los Angeles, California) is an internationally renowned American organist and well-known interpreter of Romantic organ music. He is currently a Professor of Music and university organist at the Yale School of Music. He is also Principal Organist and Artist in Residence at Christ Church in New Haven, Connecticut.
Life and career
Thomas Murray studied organ with Clarence Mader at Occidental College. He studied choral conducting as well, and graduated with his B.A. from that university in 1965. The next year, he won the National Competition of the American Guild of Organists. From 1966-1973, he was organist at Immanuel Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles, and from 1975-1980 he was choirmaster and organist of the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, Boston. In 1981, he joined the music faculty at Yale University, becoming university organist in 1990.
Murray has also been active as a concert organist for more than 40 years. In the United States, he has appeared as a soloist with the Pittsburgh, Houston, Milwaukee and Portland Symphonies and with the National Chamber Orchestra in Washington, D.C. He has also performed in most European countries, South America, Australia and Japan, and was featured as a soloist with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra at the Lahti Festival in Finland.
Thomas Murray is best known for his performances of Romantic organ works and transcriptions of works originally written for other instruments. He is especially knowledgeable about the organ music of Elgar, Mendelssohn, Franck, and Saint-Saëns, and his recordings of organ works by Mendelssohn and Elgar are regarded as authoritative.
As university organist at Yale, he has access to the famed Skinner organ in Woolsey Hall, one of the largest and most important Romantic instruments in the US, and has made numerous recordings on this instrument. Additionally, he has recorded numerous organs by the Hook firm, one of the most prominent organ-building companies in American during the 19th century.
He is not nearly as well-versed in performances of music before 1750, and is not a firm adherent to the school of organ playing that places a strong emphasis on historical performance practice, though he has frequently performed works by Johann Sebastian Bach.
Thomas Murray's recognitions include:
- American Guild of Organists International Artist of the Year (1986)
- Honorary Fellowship in the Royal College of Organists in England (2003)
- Gustave Stoeckel Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Yale University School of Music (2005)
- An Elm Court Musicale
- Art of the Symphonic Organist, Volume 3
- Edward Elgar at Woolsey Hall
- Historic Organs of Boston
- Historic Organs of Buffalo
- Historic Organs of Chicago
- Historic Organs of Colorado
- Historic Organs of Connecticut
- Historic Organs of Indiana
- Murray at Immaculate Conception
- Organ Music of Mendelssohn & Schumann
- The French Collection
- Thomas Murray at Cincinnati Museum Center
- Thomas Murray plays Lemare
- Thomas Murray plays Woolsey Hall
"The performances of all of these were those of an organist whose skill extended beyond the playing of the notes to authoritative control of a very large instrument in a vast echoing space."
"Mr. Murray played this, and the whole program, with almost a conductor's sense of tempo relationships and long-term pacing. His registrations were apt and had, without ostentation, a bold quality of definition and specificity about them."
- "Christ Church New Haven - Music".
- "Program of Organ Music is Planned". The News and Courier (Charleston, South Carolina). 1 April 1971. p. 4A.
- Hughes, Allen (12 June 1986). "Organ: Thomas Murray". The New York Times.
- Elliot, Sean D. (7 March 2012). "A vintage day at Harkness". The Day.
- Crutchfield, Will (29 November 1986). "Music: Thomas Murray in Mendelssohn Recital". The New York Times.
- San Francisco Chronicle