Recording William Rusell's Voluntaries at St

James's. Bermondsey, London

John Kitchen

The organ music of William Russell (1777-1813) is still relatively little known, despite its quality and considerable historical interest. Russell published two books for the organ: "Twelve Voluntaries" (1804) and "Twelve Voluntaries" (1812). In 2002, the 1829 J. C. Bishop organ in St. James' Church, Bermondsey, London, was restored by Martin Goetze and Dominic Gwynn; it is arguably the most appropriate extant early 19th-century English organ on which to play Russell's music. It possesses almost all of the appropriate colors, as well as a two-octave pedalboard. Russell was probably the first English composer to write trio textures, requiring two manuals and independent pedal. The Bermondsey organ shares with his music a feeling of transition between 18th-century styles and innovative ideas of the early 19th; organ and music are thus well-matched. Other aspects of early 19th-century performance practice can be explored by playing Russell's music on this organ. The writer has recorded both sets of voluntaries for Delphian Records on DCD3.

Journal The Organ Yearbook
Year 2009
Volume 38
Pages 139-151

Kitchen, John (2009) Recording William Rusell's Voluntaries at St. James's. Bermondsey, London. In: The Organ Yearbook: A Journal for the Players & Historians of Keyboard Instruments, Vol. 38, pp. 139-151. Available at


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