Improvisation – that is the simultaneous invention and performance of music – has always played an important role in organ playing. This is mainly due to the fact that organs are usually (although not entirely) found in churches and therefore organists are primarily required to respond to the liturgical flow of church services, which necessitates a high degree of flexibility and spontaneity in their playing. The skill of being able to create music on the organ ex tempore has been constantly cultivated in Europe and led to the development of different national schools of organ improvisation: French and German organists, for instance, not only improvise regularly in concert and liturgy, but also established a firm tradition of teaching improvisation in their respective countries.
Although a relatively large number of tutor books on improvisation is available, there has been a noticeable lack of research of these national schools of improvisation for the major part of the 20th Century. It was only within the last decade or so, that organ improvisation became somewhat more of a focal point of both musicologists and organists, and publications are now available on the subject of various Continental organ improvisation traditions. However, no research on the Anglican tradition of organ improvisation as found in England has been carried out thus far, and this thesis attempts to fill that gap.