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Selected and arranged by Thomas C. Pollack
with a new preface by Sion M. Honea
The numerous initiatory degrees which are staged by Masonic organizations are generally plays in which the candidate is a principal actor. Music has been a part of these dramas for at least the last two hundred years, and some Masonic temples are equipped with notable pipe organs and have stages with elaborate backdrops which can be used to add color to the events. Famous composers such as Sibelius and Mozart have written pieces specifically for the rituals.
However, less spectacular Masonic events also call for music. Frequently the conferring of degrees will be followed by a meal, or festive board, where appropriate entertainment is in order. And there is a ritualistic event known as a table lodge, when toasts with special glasses are given to a peculiar cadence and there is occasionally a quartet.
This ready market for a whole variety of solos, marches, choruses, and timely thematic interludes has included quartets such as are in the Ivanhoe collection. The lodge honored by the name, Ivanhoe No.610 on the rolls of the Grand Lodge of New York, was in its heyday in the 1860s when the scores were brought together. It is representative of a very large genre of nineteenth century pieces for Masonic gatherings.
Sir Walter Scott, the Scottish author and a Freemason, was partly responsible for the popularity of Ivanhoe as a name for Masonic lodges, commandaries, and buildings. His novel, published in 1820, is set in the year 1194, and its hero helps restore Richard to the throne of England after many adventures. Sometimes viewed as the book that helped begin the fondness for modern historical fiction, it certainly inspired the Masons to name their organizations in honor of the medieval hero … and in this case, their assemblages of sheet music.
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