Remembering on Memorial Day 2021 | St. Lawrence University Chaplain's Office

Remembering on Memorial Day 2021

Solemn Melody
Henry Walford Davies (1869-1941)

Nimrod from ‘Enigma Variations’
Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

In Memoriam
Herman Berlinski (1910-2001)

Herbert Murrill (1909-1952)

The Star Spangled Banner Concert Variations
Dudley Buck (1839-1900)
Edited by E. Power Biggs


    Variation I

    Variation II – Poco vivace

    Variation III – Allegro non troppo

    Variation IV – Minore adagio

    Fughetta – Allegro assai

Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday commemorating all of the men and women who have died serving the U.S. in the military. According to recent research, beginning in 1865 in South Carolina, the freed slaves buried the Union soldiers who had died in prison during the Civil War. Originally called Decoration Day, Waterloo, New York claims to be the official birthplace of Memorial Day. The people of Waterloo have observed it every year since 1868. By 1882, the name ‘Memorial Day’ evolved but was not generally accepted until after World War II. In 1967, the name became official. In 1968, the U.S. Congress decided that the day should be part of a three day weekend. The last change came in 1971 when the government moved Memorial Day to the last Monday in May. The U.S. government decided that Memorial Day would remember American casualties in any war, conflict, or military action.

In the last twenty years, national events have led us to remembering more groups of people who served the country in times of extreme stress for the country. Immediately after 9/11, many events were planned to honor those killed and the first responders and medical staffs who responded to the disasters. For the past sixteen months, our country has been blessed with incredible medical workers, first responders, and essential workers and saddened with the massive loss of life. As I play today, I ask you to join me in remembering all the people who served so selflessly during the extreme traumas that our country has suffered. Also, will you please join me in remembering and honoring all the people that have died or have continuing symptoms due to the pandemic.

Solemn Melody by Henry Walford Davies is played annually at the Cenotaph in London, England for Remembrance Sunday. Davies was known as an outstanding professor of music, composer, chair of the National Council of Music for England, and a musical advisor and commentator for the BBC. His music sets the stage for the many emotions that we all have on Memorial Day.

Nimrod from ‘Enigma Variations’ by Edward Elgar is another of the lush Romantic pieces that leads to the British musical style at the beginning of the twentieth century. Nimrod is often played during times of great grief.

Herman Berlinski, an Eastern European/American composer, was often asked to compose music for intense memorial occasions. In Memoriam is developed from one of his improvisations as he was remembering his friends who were not able to leave Germany in advance of World War II.

During World War II Herbert Murrill served as Head of the School for the Royal Academy of Music and Professor of Composition.        

Dudley Buck loved the organ and enjoyed surprising his audiences with new pieces. His Concert Variations on The Star Spangled Banner are quite varied. After a hymn like approach for the Theme, each variation takes on a different character. Using all the possibilities of celebration, then, taking just a moment for reflection in the fourth variation, which is written in a minor key, he explores all the range of the instrument in his closing Fughetta.

Thank you for listening and sharing this moment with me.

Beginning July 2, Celebrating the Fourth of July will be available. Please join us as we celebrate all that has been and who we can be working together. Thank you for your support of this program.