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Stanford, Sir Charles Villiers (1852-1924)

Sir Charles Villiers Stanford

born: 30 September 1852
died: 29 March 1924
country: United Kingdom

During his lifetime, the Irishman Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924) was possibly the most distinguished composer of English church music; his influence upon English musical life was enormous and long-lasting. Like Parry, he taught many students who were later to become significant composers and disseminated a Teutonic idiom which was gleaned from his studies in Leipzig and Kiel in the mid 1870s. Having been appointed professor of music in 1883 at the new Royal College of Music, Stanford was elected professor of music at Cambridge University in 1887.

Stanford was, like many composers of his generation, gifted in writing musical miniatures. Victorian England had a huge appetite for ‘drawing-room music’ and so there was much demand for composers to publish material for that market. Stanford was also at ease with the larger forms; his works include nine operas, seven symphonies, ten concertos, six Irish rhapsodies, four masses, twenty-two secular cantatas, eight string quartets, six organ sonatas, and so on. His experience with these larger musical structures evidently taught him terseness in his smaller works. His choral music has survived when much of the work of his contemporaries has not. The renewed interest in him as a composer should allow his works to survive as one of the highest achievements in Victorian and Edwardian music.

from notes by William McVicker © 2005


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