Paul Louis Abel was born November 23, 1926 in Clarksdale, Mississippi, and in 1950 he matriculated from The Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY.  A trumpeter and theory major, Abel composed two of the works featured in this collection while enrolled at Eastman: Vignette for Orchestra, for which he was awarded the Edward Benjamin Prize, and Sonata in stilo antico for oboe and clavier.  In 1954 Abel arrived at the Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge to serve as Assistant Professor of trumpet and theory.  While at LSU, he joined the Baton Rouge Symphony where he performed for fourteen years as first trumpeter.  As often as he performed classical works, Abel played in the pit of various musical theater productions, traveling rodeo shows, and the Shrine and Ringling Brothers’ Circuses.  In all, Abel played the trumpet for an astonishingly long period.  In 1984, however, Abel was afflicted a case of Bell’s Palsey which rendered him incapable of forming an embouchure. Subsequently, he sold all his trumpets and ended his performing career.

Abel remained active as a conductor and composer, however.  In the service of various churches, Mr. Abel wrote, arranged, and conducted numerous choral works, and more than a few performances of Handel’s The Messiah.  During his thirty-three years at the Louisiana State University, Abel composed works for the Timm Woodwind Quintet, and the University Brass Ensemble; both groups feature members of the University’s music school faculty.  In 1980 he performed second trumpet in his own composition, Proclamation & Conversation.  This modern composition depicts the city council of a small New England municipality attempting to solve a civic problem.  The discussions are characterized by dissonant bickering interspersed with harmonious concord, recollections of youthful romance, and jaunty athletic events.  The council members ultimately adjourn with less than perfect resolution.  Fantasia on Gregorian themes was performed by the LSU Symphony Orchestra circa 1972 and conducted by the composer.  This rhapsodic piece employing four principle Gregorian melodies, Asperges me, Misa de angellis, Dies irae, and In paradisum, was dedicated by the composer to the memory of F. Crawford Page.  His work entitled, Idyll, is an elegy for his oldest son, Paul Louis Abel, III.  The Misa brevis pro defunctis performed by the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra and Choral Society conducted by Victor Klimash, is Abel’s most auspicious work, and is featured on Disc 2 of this collection.

These recordings have been assembled from an assortment of old reel and cassette tapes, and are far from a, "complete," collection of Abel’s work.  Abel wrote and conducted a weighty orchestral piece honoring the astronauts of the 1960’s space race with the Soviet Union, and works for the LSU a capella choir.  These and many of Abel’s other works will probably never be recovered.  Abel also wrote the Boy’s State and Girl’s State anthems sung on The LSU campus by coeds during summer activities, and arranged Leopold Mozart’s Toy Symphony for LSU’s students using actual store-bought toys.  Also missing from the collection is a Rhapsody for cello and piano for which there is a single recording.  The piece was written for and performed by the late Thaddeus Brys on cello, accompanied by his wife Susan Brys circa 1972.  As it stands, this collection provides ample evidence of Mr. Abel’s lasting contribution to the musical arts.
 

Disc 1

Disc 2

 

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