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By the time August Gottfried Ritter wrote his Sonata No. 2 in E minor around 1850, he had already established himself as an important editor of new publications of Baroque organ music. Together with Mendelssohn, who enjoyed a similar reputation due to his successful revival of Bach, Ritter made valiant attempts to write new secular music for the pipe organ, even if performances of such would be scarce due to the lack of quality instruments in secular venues.  

His second attempt at a “sonata” for organ is demarcated roughly into three parts by different time signatures (4/4, 6/8, and 2/4) while efficiently short motives are developed. The opening melody serves as a hymn-like introduction, closing with an emblematic “Amen” cadence which returns with the final cadence of the piece. The main melodic section follows the introduction with various running sixteenth-note passages developing it, followed by a contrasting idea in 6/8 stated four times in different keys before the recapitulation and coda occur.

— Gregg Wager is a composer and critic. He is author of Symbolism as a Compositional Method in the Works of Karlheinz Stockhausen. He has a PhD in musicology from the Free University Berlin and a JD from McGeorge School of Law.