Only seconds after the final chord of the premiere reverberated through Aeolian Hall in New York City, conductor Walter Damrosch turned to the audience to say:
I am sure you will agree that if a gifted young man can write a symphony like this at twenty-three, within five years he will be ready to commit murder!
Unlike O. J. Simpson, Aaron Copland rose to a semi-popular status in this country without killing anyone. And it wasn't a neutral kind of popularity either. Copland created genuine works of art that have left an enduring mark on American music. Of the Organ Symphony, Nadia Boulanger, Copland's (and many other young American composers') mentor, said:
I can't tell you my joy - the work is so brilliant, so full of music.
Boulanger played the organ for the work's premiere in 1924, but it did not exist on record until 1968. It's not a concerto, but it is virtuosic. Like the Dupre Symphony for Organ and Orchestra in G minor, the organ is an integral part of the orchestration without being the object of its affections.
This work is required listening for all organists.
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