Thomas Murray (organist)

Thomas Murray (organist)

Thomas Mantle Murray (b. October 6, 1943 in Los Angeles, California) is an internationally renowned American organist and well-known interpreter of Romantic organ music. He is currently professor of organ and university organist at Yale University, where he teaches alongside Martin Jean.

Life and career

Thomas Murray studied organ with Clarence Mader at Occidental College; he studied choral conducting as well, and graduated with his B.A. from that university in 1965. The next year, he won the National Competition of the American Guild of Organists. From 1966 - 1973, he was organist at Immanuel Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles, and from 1975 - 1980 he was choirmaster and organist of St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Boston. In 1981, he joined the music faculty at Yale University, becoming university organist in 1990. Throughout his career, he has also been active as a concert organist. In addition to numerous performance in the U.S., Murray has also performed in England, Finland, Japan, and Australia.

Thomas Murray is best known for his performances of Romantic organ works and transcriptions of works originally written for other instruments. He is especially knowledgeable about the organ music of Elgar, Mendelssohn, Franck, and Saint-Saens, and his recordings of organ works by Mendelssohn and Elgar are regarded as authoritative. As professor of organ at Yale, he has access to the famed Skinner organ in Woolsey Hall, one of the largest and most important Romantic instruments in the U.S., and has made numerous recordings on this instrument. Additionally, he has recorded numerous organs by the Hook firm, one of the most prominent organ-building companies in American during the 19th century. He is not nearly as well-versed in performances of music before 1750, and is not a firm adherent to the school of organ playing that places a strong emphasis on historical performance practice. Among his former students he can claim to have taught Paul Jacobs, chair of the organ department at the Juilliard School and one of the most widely recognized concert organists of his generation.

When he is not teaching or performing, Murray can usually be found pursuing his other passion: antique cars, particularly Rolls-Royces.


* [ Mendelssohn Organ Sonatas. Thomas Murray, organist.]
* [ Thomas Murray plays Elgar.]
* [ Thomas Murray plays Lemare.]
* [ The Transcriber's Art: Thomas Murray at Woolsey Hall.]
* [ The French Collection. Thomas Murray, organist.]
* [ Thomas Murray at the Cincinnati Museum Center.]
* [ An American Masterpiece. Thomas Murray, organist.]
* [ Music of Schumann and Mendelssohn. Thomas Murray, organist.]


"The performances of all of these were those of an organist whose skill extended beyond the playing of the notes to authoritative control of a very large instrument in a vast echoing space." [ [ Allen Hughes, New York Times; June 12, 1986.] ]

"Mr. Murray played this, and the whole program, with almost a conductor's sense of tempo relationships and long-term pacing. His registrations were apt and had, without ostentation, a bold quality of definition and specificity about them." [ [ Will Crutchfield, New York Times; November 29, 1986.] ]

"Murray played . . . with a keen sense of style, and technique to burn. He's more than an organist, he's an artist." [San Francisco Chronicle]


*Vernon Gotwal/Charles Krigbaum: 'Murray, Thomas', "Grove Music Online" ed. L. Macy. []

External links

* [ Thomas Murray] at [ Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc.]


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