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 first began studying Organ privately when he was 13 years old and has been continuously occupied with it ever since.  His teachers were Robert Thompson, Henri DeKiersgieter, James Frazier, Dr. Mario Salvador, and, lastly, his mentor John Weissock.  During his teen years he was heavily influenced by the dramatic and extended song arrangements of theatre organist Don Baker and the organ compositions of a certain cantankerous old wig-wearing 18th-century German cantor and schoolmaster whose last name happened to rhyme with "Doc."  He went on to serve as organist for his church for several years, and, after serving on the organist staff and as a choir rehearsal pianist for many 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.

Dr. Monrotus is a member of the Saint Louis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, Saint Louis Theatre Organ Society, and American Composers Forum, 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 436K visits to date, this web site has become a widely used tool and continues to occupy several hundred visitors daily.

Inspired by the sound of the historic Kimball instrument of the Saint Louis Scottish Rite Cathedral, he composed five major collections of recital-worthy Organ music.  These 34 copyrighted scores and suggestions for performance have been converted to PDF format suitable for download and printing and have been made FREE OF CHARGE on this web site.  These along with computer generated audio clips for each have been archived with the 1) Saint Louis Scottish Rite Cathedral Library, 2) the American Guild of Organists National Library at Boston University School of Theology, and 3) the Masonic Complex Library, Grand Lodge of Missouri A.F. & A.M., for the use of interested musicians.

Organists are always looking for new contemporary Organ music for worship services, ceremonies, instruction, rounding out recitals, professional growth, etc., but the ongoing coronavirus pandemic of 2020-2021 has caused severe and prolonged interruptions at and closures of many places where organists routinely meet, work, and earn their livings.  In this new economic environment any new scores need to be as cost-effective as possible, and, accordingly, these compositions are being offered free of charge for the time being to any interested organists in order to remove any financial impediment to obtaining copies.  This expression is NOT to be interpreted however as a devaluing of the compositional work of others or as a universal example that all composers should be following in shipping their own work.  Salaried musicians earn every penny of compensation and every fee they need to charge to advance their art and serve their audiences.  That goes for composers also.

Some may wonder then, why he's giving his work away without thought of recompense.  He's doing this, 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 to leave a little something to fellow organists -- almost all of whom he's never met -- who are in a position to possibly use it some day for the benefit of themselves or others.  He's doing this 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.  He's doing this with the hope of making a modest contribution to the general fund of contemporary Organ music, that sharing what he's done might stimulate and encourage others to express their own creativity, that it might also inspire listeners, and that it might even gently nudge some of them one more millimeter along their path back to God.  That's the long and the short of it -- his only motive.  To think anything otherwise, isn't where it is.   

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 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 figure prominently in the music of emerging composers who write for this instrument today.

  Indeed, 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.  These are complete, unabridged pieces which explore a broad range of tonal fugue writing.  For example, seven of them (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 of them (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 them (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 are written in four parts, have multiple countersubjects, and are written in triple or quadruple counterpoint.  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 developed like 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 forward moves it makes, and how it stands up under usage, such scores have been known to appeal to a broad group of musicians and music lovers over a span of generations, cultures, and places, to have a life beyond their original premiere, and possibly labored over, loved, interrogated, and admired in future years.

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