The creator of this website was born at a very early age in Saint Louis, Missouri. When he was a year old his parents moved to the city of Affton in Saint Louis county where he grew up. Upon graduation from Affton high school he attended Saint Louis Community College and then Southern Illinois University where he earned a baccalaureate degree in physiology. Upon entering Washington University School of Dental Medicine in Saint Louis he graduated in 1975 as Doctor of Dental Medicine and practiced as a trusted and respected doctor of dentistry in Missouri for the next forty-one years until his retirement.
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At the age of thirteen and without any prior musical inclinations Dr. Monrotus suddenly became interested in organ playing. His basic tutoring at the instrument was conducted by the late Robert Thompson, James Frazier, and Gregory Cohn and included private instruction with the late Henri DeKiersgieter and Dr. Mario Salvador. During his teen years he also was heavily influenced by his friendship with and the dramatic and extended song arrangements of world class theatre organist Don Baker. Much later in life he resumed intensive instruction at the organ with his mentor the late John Weissrock at the Church of the Gesu on the campus of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. John had been a pupil of Dr. Wayne Fisher at the Cincinnati College/Conservatory of Music and was the first winner of the National Organ Playing Competition held in Fort Wayne, Indiana in 1960. As an organist he was a legend in the Milwaukee area, and a great deal of his teaching has been summarized and saved in the blog postings on this website.
Dr. Monrotus has been recognized by the elders of the National Association of Christian Ministers as an independent, non-denominational, ordained and licensed minister of the gospel under the ecclesiastical authority of NACM, confirmed with a laying on of hands, to legally administer the ordinances of the Christian faith, minister to unsaintly saints, and officially serve the needy in the name of Jesus Christ. This website, his personal testimony, the six collections of original organ compositions he composed for worship and recital use, and the instrument he custom-designed to record his videos make up the 4 sides of his outreach ministry. His service to churches and fraternal organizations including the many years he was privileged to preside at the historic IV/53 Kimball organ of the Saint Louis Scottish Rite Cathedral has taken him all across the United States and Canada to perform at over 40 separate venues.
Today we hear many voices promoting their own talking points, one of which, in effect, is that digging through the chronicles of history for anything pragmatic and applicable to the free-wheeling society of today is generally of little worth if not a complete waste of time. Sadly, the creative arts have been exposed to that same persuasion despite the reality that the studying and learning what has come before is implicit, distorting or trying to erase it has tangible effects, and nothing from any age is devoid of interest in which the operation of a quick imagination is discernable. Anyone composing for the organ these days is writing for a medium whose core repertoire spans hundreds of years and is automatically entering into a dialogue with the past and having enduring works for models. This parley with what has gone before inevitably leads to the inference that nothing in music discloses a more powerful and constant stimulus to the imaginative faculty than contrapuntal methods of tone association developed from the earliest days. The argument that counterpoint IS the arterial life's blood of music therefore would not be a difficult one to make, and, since the Organ is essentially a polyphonic instrument and polyphony is merely the product of the employment of the contrapuntal method, it follows that FUGUE,the most elaborate of contrapuntal processes, takes precedence asTHE Organ piece par excellence. It should therefore come as no surprise, just as woodworking should figure prominently in the output of a carpenter, that contrapuntal figuration and various modes of imitation including canon, fugue, fughetta, fugato, and invention procedure should figure prominently in the preparation, if not the output, of the emerging composer who writes for this instrument today. The beautiful cohesion of the harmonies, how they move around, in polyphonic music like this are geared to capture the listener's ear.
Adhering to such criteria is by no means outdated. The majority of pieces from this webmaster's output are either stand-alone fugues or fugues paired with a prelude of some sort in which canon and imitation is liberally employed. These 39 pieces are complete, recital-worthy, and explore a variety of styles and a broad range of writing. The fugues are all in four voices, have at least two recurring countersubjects (some have three), and most are supplied with tonal rather than real answers. Two of them start in the soprano voice, five begin in the alto, fourteen in the tenor, and one in the bass. Most of them start on the 1st scale degree, but four (all having modulating subjects requiring tonal answers) start on the 3rd scale degree, two on the 5th scale degree, and one even on the 2nd scale degree. Because each subject and its multiple countersubjects take turns entering at least once in the bass, the writing is in triple or quadruple counterpoint, respectively. This and the long subjects, short codettas linking entries in the opening exposition, and short, stubby episodes linking all subsequent entries, are all stylistic features which combine in signature construction, one which in addition permits a rapid and weighty development.
A wide variety of procedure also is found in these fugues. One of them (Op. 20) is supplied with a counterexposition, but others make moves which are far more audacious and unexpected. Four of them are supplied with redundant (5th) entries during which all 4 moving lines either are inverted (Op. 18), modulate to the relative key (Op. 22, 31), or modulate a whole tritone distant from the home key (Op. 33). Another one (Op. 11) is a very bold double fugue in which the 2nd subject is introduced using invention rather than fugal procedure and carries on with a countersubject that exists in 2 forms, both of which reappear in the final combinatory section. Certain pieces are also thematically related: The subject from Op. 26 is the Op. 25 subject inverted -- the Op. 33 subject is the Op. 32 subject inverted -- the 1st countersubject from Op. 28 is the Op. 27 subject inverted). The theme of the Op. 5 Prelude and the subject of the Op. 6 Fugue also were both derived by rhythmic transformation (same pitches, different note values) of the main theme from the Op. 4 Variations.
This music may be sampled on this website in slide show form or as live YouTube video recordings.
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PLEASE NOTE: Those who love polyphonic tonal music in this style built upon chord relationships with no ambiguity of key also should revere the impulse that would push one to the edges of tonality, if not beyond. A good deal of music of great beauty has been written within regions of musical space where the tonal fences are shaky but still standing, and some composers have pushed their music successfully into tonally rarified atmospheres well beyond that. Art forms destined to have a future subsist on energy innovation like this -- in the case of music by keeping the best from the musical language of composers from the past and doing something different, interesting, and unexpected with it that nobody's ever heard or tried before. At the same time, with music today being divided into the sad dichotomy of tonal versus atonal, the temptation to view through a preferential prism more recently composed musical works which either strictly obey or tend to drift from traditional rules of tonal grammar and syntax and to weigh them too early in their life before they have withstood the test of time also seems to be ever-present. But for those who believe that new music should be cogent, concise, contrapuntally savvy, listener-friendly, definitely of our time, and weighed by its discernable formal architecture, the quality of its thematic material, the bold moves it makes, the speed of its harmonic rhythm, and how it stands up under usage, such scores, often considered by their composers are mere trifles compared to the masterpieces of others, have been known to appeal to a broad group of musicians and music lovers over a span of time, cultures, and places, to have a life beyond their original premiere, and possibly labored over, loved, interrogated, and admired by future generations.