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Sir John Goss

born: 27 December 1800
died: 10 May 1880
country: United Kingdom

Sir John Goss (1800–1880) has suffered at the hands of the slayers of Victoriana. Like Stainer, he merely responded to the musical demands of his day. Goss became one of the Children of the Chapel Royal in 1811. He was briefly a tenor in the Covent Garden opera chorus, later becoming organist at Stockwell Chapel. He was appointed organist of the then newly built church of St Luke in Chelsea in 1824, succeeding Attwood (of whom he was a pupil) as organist of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1838. Goss was appointed as one of the composers of the Chapel Royal in 1856 following the death of William Knivett; he was knighted in 1872, resigning his position at St Paul’s shortly afterwards. His pupils included Sir Arthur Sullivan, Sir Frederic Cowen and Sir Frederick Bridge.

Goss wrote a musical drama, The Serjeant’s Wife, which ran at the London Lyceum for a hundred nights from 24 July 1827. He took to writing church music in later life. The opening phrase of Goss’s anthem If we believe that Jesus died is quoted on his memorial tablet in the Chapel of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in the crypt of St Paul’s. The inscription reads: ‘His genius and skill are shewn in the various compositions with which he has enriched the Music of the Church. His virtues and kindness of heart endeared him to his pupils and friends who have erected this monument in token of their admiration and esteem.’

from notes by William McVicker © 2005


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