Hyperion Records

Sir Edward Cuthbert Bairstow

born: 22 August 1874
died: 1 May 1946
country: United Kingdom

After a short spell teaching in Windsor, Sir Edward Bairstow (1874–1946) was in 1893 articled to Sir Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey, where he stayed for six years as pupil and amanuensis. He also held an appointment as organist and choirmaster at All Saints’ Church, Norfolk Square, in London, until 1899 when he went to Lancashire to take up the post of organist at Wigan Parish Church. In 1906 he moved to Leeds Parish Church and was appointed organist of York Minster in 1913, a post he held until his death in 1946. He took the Doctorate of Music examinations at the University of Durham in 1902 and became professor of music there in 1929. This did not necessitate a move from York to Durham, for he was only required to give one lecture each year in order to fulfil his commitment.

Scarcely a month in the life of any choral foundation will go by without Bairstow’s music appearing on the music lists. He seems able to create an atmosphere in his music and to evoke the great spaces of a cathedral by dramatic or intimate musical gestures that reflect the detailed attention he paid to the text he was working on. This contrasts well with the work of Stanford, who frequently produces a straightforward musical structure and a singable tune that one could whistle on the way home. Bairstow, by contrast, is interested in the relationship of the organ part to the choral parts, building great climaxes in the music and contrasting them with simple yet dramatic ideas. The technical construction of the work is subservient to the music which often feels as if it is almost continuously unfolding on a vast canvas. His approach is scholarly and meticulous, showing the influence of Bach and Brahms.

The comparison with Stanford is interesting, because it was the latter who helped church music move away from the ‘full’ and ‘verse’ anthem structures which characterize not only the music of the Georgian composers, but which hung over through much of the nineteenth century and which can be readily identified in the musical structures of, say, Attwood, Goss and S S Wesley. Ouseley and Crotch were both formidable and influential figures in church music of the mid-Victorian period. Ouseley, strongly associated with the Oxford Movement, offered the view that liturgical music should be sober and avoid the frivolity which had characterized the musical efforts of the Georgians – particularly organists who improvised on themes from the latest opera – whilst Crotch expressed the view that S S Wesley’s anthem The Wilderness was effectively degenerate art because it stepped outside the recognized boundaries of what was acceptable ‘church fayre’. Stanford broke away from this mould and, while we do not think of him as an iconoclast, he opened the way for perfection as a miniaturist which is difficult to better. Stanford and Parry both allowed their organ parts to be freed from becoming mere accompaniments and effectively paved the way for Bairstow to unfold his own musical genius in a less inhibited way.

from notes by William McVicker 2005

'Bairstow: Choral Music' (CDA67497)
Bairstow: Choral Music
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'Passiontide at St Paul's' (CDH55436)
Passiontide at St Paul's
Buy by post £5.50 CDH55436  Helios (Hyperion's budget label)  
'Psalms from St Paul's, Vol. 4 41-55' (CDP11004)
Psalms from St Paul's, Vol. 4 41-55
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) CDP11004  Archive Service; also available on CDS44101/12  
'Psalms from St Paul's, Vol. 9 105-113' (CDP11009)
Psalms from St Paul's, Vol. 9 105-113
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'The English Anthem, Vol. 1' (CDA66374)
The English Anthem, Vol. 1
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'The English Anthem, Vol. 2' (CDA66519)
The English Anthem, Vol. 2
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'The English Anthem, Vol. 4' (CDA66678)
The English Anthem, Vol. 4
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'The English Anthem, Vol. 6' (CDA66826)
The English Anthem, Vol. 6
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'The English Anthem, Vol. 7' (CDA67087)
The English Anthem, Vol. 7
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'The English Anthem, Vol. 8' (CDA67483)
The English Anthem, Vol. 8
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'The Psalms of David' (CDS44101/12)
The Psalms of David
Buy by post £40.00 CDS44101/12  12CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
'Trinity Sunday at Westminster Abbey' (CDA67557)
Trinity Sunday at Westminster Abbey
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'English Cathedral Music of the 20th Century' (A66018)
English Cathedral Music of the 20th Century
Buy by post £13.99 (ARCHIVE SERVICE) A66018  Archive Service (LP transfer)   This album is not available for download
On other labels
'My Beloved's Voice' (SIGCD370)
My Beloved's Voice
SIGCD370  Download only   Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Alphabetical listing of all musical works
Blessed city, heavenly Salem (Bairstow)
Come, lovely Name  No 1 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Evening Service in G (Bairstow)
Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Give me my scallop-shell of quiet  First line to Purse and Scrip, No 4 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Have mercy upon me, O God  First line to Psalm 51 'Miserere mei, Deus' (Bairstow)
How doth the city sit solitary  First line to The Lamentation (Bairstow)
I sat down under his shadow (Bairstow)
If the Lord had not helped me (Bairstow)
In Exitu Israel 'Psalm 114' (Bairstow)
Jesu, grant me this, I pray (Gibbons/Bairstow)
Jesu, the very thought of thee  No 2 of Three Introits or Short Anthems (Bairstow)
King of Glorie, King of Peace  First line to L'Envoy, No 5 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
L'Envoy  No 5 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Let all mortal flesh keep silence (Bairstow)
Lord, I call upon thee (Bairstow)
Lord, I will mean an speak thy praise  First line to Praise, No 3 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Lord, thou hast been our refuge (Bairstow)
Magnificat  Evening Canticle 1 of Service in D (Bairstow)
Magnificat  Canticle 1 of Evening Service in G (Bairstow)
Nunc dimittis  Evening Canticle 2 of Service in D (Bairstow)
Nunc dimittis  Canticle 2 of Evening Service in G (Bairstow)
O give thanks unto the Lord for he is gracious  First line to Psalm 107 'Confitemini Domino' (Bairstow)
O Lord, in me there lieth naught  No 2 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Praise  No 3 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Psalm 107 'Confitemini Domino' (Bairstow)
Psalm 51 'Miserere mei, Deus' (Bairstow)
Purse and Scrip  No 4 of Five Poems of the Spirit (Bairstow)
Save us, O Lord (Bairstow)
Service in D (Bairstow)
The Lamentation (Bairstow)
Three Introits or Short Anthems (Bairstow)
When Israel came out of Egypt  First line to In Exitu Israel 'Psalm 114' (Bairstow)
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