Biographical

Dr. Steven Monrotus was born at a very early age in Saint Louis, Missouri.  When he was a year old his parents moved to Affton, Missouri, where he grew up.  Upon graduation from the Affton public schools and having earned a baccalaureate degree from Southern Illinois University he graduated from Washington University with the degree of Doctor of Dental Medicine.  He went on to practice as a trusted and respected doctor of dentistry in Missouri for over four decades until his retirement.

Dr. Monrotus began studying the foundations of organ playing privately when he was 13 years old, first with Robert Thompson, then with James Frazier, Henri DeKiersgieter, and Dr. Mario Salvador.  During his teen years he was also heavily influenced musically by his friendship with and the dramatic and extended song arrangements of legendary theatre organist Don Baker.  Later in life he resumed private organ study with his mentor John Weissrock who determined that those foundations were still well in place but got him doing some different things to hone that around, further develop his hands, and add in new concepts.

After serving as organist for his church and as a choir rehearsal pianist and staff organist for several years at the Saint Louis Scottish Rite Cathedral he was appointed Principal Organist there to preside at its historic Kimball organ of 144 stops, a position he continues to hold.  He is the first and only Freemason to be officially appointed to the office of Grand Musician for the Grand Lodge of Missouri A.F. & A.M., is the only Freemason in Missouri Masonic history ever to have been appointed to the additional offices of Grand Organist/Musician for the Grand Chapter R.A.M., Grand Council C.M., Grand Commandery K.T., General Grand Chapter R.A.M. International, General Grand Council C.M. International, York Rite Sovereign College of North America, Provincial Grand Court of the Masonic Order of Athelstan in England, Wales, & its Provinces Overseas, and to serve in these several offices simultaneously.

Dr. Monrotus is also a member of the Saint Louis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (A.G.O.), Saint Louis Theatre Organ Society, and American Composers Forum.  He is a founding member of the Panel of Advisors for the Committee on the New Organist (CONO) of the A.G.O., and his travels have taken him to or through thirty-five states and two Canadian provinces to perform at over forty Masonic venues.  He remains heavily involved in the music ministry and in 2015 became webmaster of OrganBench, an online conceptual learning resource for organists.  Having been blessed with over half a million visits to date, this web site has become a widely used tool and continues to occupy several hundred visitors daily.

Inspired by the music and methods of J.S. Bach, Louis Vierne, and the advice given to his composition scholars at the Paris Conservatoire by Cesar Franck to "not write much, but let it be very good," the 34 original scores for Organ listed below are in effect a celebration of counterpoint, the arterial life's blood of music.  They were written with quality rather than quantity in mind that they might bring some additional joy into the human heart and perhaps contribute in some way to the music ministry and contemporary organ repertoire.  This new music along with suggestions for performance have been converted to PDF format and made available for download and printing on this web site.  Computer-generated audio clips for some of them also have been made into Slide Shows available for viewing from the top menu bar.  

Organists are always looking for new Organ music of worth for worship services, ceremonies, instruction, rounding out recitals, professional growth, etc., but the Covid pandemic has caused severe and unprecedented challenges for organists and church musicians including interruptions and closures at many places where they meet and work.  In the new economic environment which has emerged any new scores need to be as cost-effective for them as possible, and, accordingly, these compositions are being offered FREE OF CHARGE to remove any financial impediment to obtaining copies.  This gesture is not being made to lessen the importance of the compositional work of others, nor should it be seen as an example that all composers should be following in getting their own work before the public.  It costs musicians a great deal of time, trouble, and expense to get where they are, and they deserve to be compensated for it.

He's doing this without thought of recompense not to attract attention, not to try to make a name for himself, not to appear exemplary above others, not to seek rewards (he covets none), not even to expect any thanks in return.  He's doing this a) to leave a little something to fellow organists -- almost all of whom he's never met -- who are too often underpaid for their services and are experiencing hardships due to the Covid pandemic, b) because these same musicians happen to love and have spent their lives pursuing the same thing that he loved and what he spent his own life pursuing, and c) in a spirit of gratitude, that he might give something back with interest in remembrance of his teachers who were beautifully kind to him, that sharing what he's created might stimulate and encourage others to try their hand at expressing their own creativity, that it might also inspire listeners who hear it performed one day, that this might even gently nudge a few of them one more millimeter along their path back to God, and that their joy might be made more complete.   

Today we hear many academic voices telling people that learning something about history is of little or no value.  Sadly, that trend has spilled over to some extent into the creative arts even though studying what has come before has explicit practical value and distorting it has tangible effects.  Anyone composing for 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 the past and the fact that a) nothing is devoid of interest in which the operation of a quick imagination is discernable and b) nothing in music discloses a more powerful and constant stimulus to the imaginative faculty than contrapuntal methods of tone association -- reinforces the idea that counterpoint is indeed the arterial life's blood of music.  And since polyphony is merely the product of the employment of the contrapuntal method, and the Organ is essentially a polyphonic instrument, it follows that fugue -- the most elaborate of contrapuntal processes -- would be THE Organ piece par excellence.  It should come as no surprise therefore that invention forms, chorale figuration, canon, fugue, and/or various modes of imitation can and probably should figure prominently in the music of emerging composers who write for this instrument today.

  The majority (20) of these 34 new compositions for Organ are in fact stand-alone fugues or fugues paired with a prelude of some sort in which canons and imitations are liberally employed.  Grouped into five collections, one of which is for hands only, these are complete, recital-worthy pieces which explore a variety of styles and a broad range of tonal fugue writing.  For example, seven of the fugues (Op. 6, 10, 13, 18, 20, 25, 26) have real answers and the remaining thirteen (Op. 7, 11, 19, 21, 22, 23, 24, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32) tonal answers.  Two fugues (Op. 10, 18) start in the soprano voice, five (Op. 11, 22, 23, 26, 30) in the alto, twelve (Op. 6, 13, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 31, 32) in the tenor, and one (Op. 7) in the bass.  Most (13) of the fugues (Op. 6, 7, 10, 11, 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 28, 31, 32) start on the 1st scale degree, but four (Op. 19, 27, 29, 30) start on the 3rd scale degree, two (Op. 22, 26) on the 5th scale degree, and one (Op. 13) on the 2nd scale degree.  All have four parts, long subjects, multiple countersubjects, modulating episodes, and are written in either triple or quadruple counterpoint showing at times some bold and unusual moves.  For example, one of them (Op. 18) is supplied with a redundant (5th) entry in its exposition in which all 4 moving lines are inverted.  One of them (Op. 11) also is written as a double fugue in which the 2nd subject is introduced in the manner of an invention.

The temptation to judge recently composed musical works like these 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, 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.

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Organ Music of Steven Monrotus Op. 1-32