Skip to page content

About this Piece

Leo Sowerby (1895–1968) grew up in Grand Rapids Michigan, where he began composing at age 10 and took up the organ at 15. His abilities as a composer were recognized by Frederick Stock, conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra—the ensemble that premiered his Violin Concerto in 1913 when Sowerby was just 18. In 1927, he began a 33-year tenure at St. James’s Episcopal Church in Chicago, where he composed an impressive number of choral and organ works. His popular Comes Autumn Time was written in 1916 while he was organist at Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church. Two melodies dominate: a lively tune heard at the outset in the pedal, with a toccata-like accompaniment in the manuals, and a contrasting, lyrical melody in a higher register that appears a bit later. Characteristic of Sowerby’s love of orchestral color, he indicates that the melody is to be registered (where possible) with “Solo Flugel Horn 8’ & Bassoon 16’.” —Thomas Neenan