CHARLES VILLIERS STANFORD (1852 - 1924)
Born in Dublin in 1852, Stanford established himself in England as a leading figure in the musical life of the country, appointed professor of composition at the Royal College of Music in London in 1883 and four years later elected to the chair of music at Cambridge. He exercised a strong influence over generations of composition pupils, although, by his final years, his once admired achievements as a composer were out of fashion. He had maintained strong personal relations with composers in Austria, Germany and France, including Brahms, the violinist Joachim, and Saint-Saëns. He was knighted in 1902.
Oratorios, Cantatas and Church Music
Stanford fulfilled contemporary demands in a wide range of choral works, services and anthems that remain in cathedral use in the Church of England. He also wrote a solemn Requiem Mass for the painter Lord Leighton and set a number of varied texts, often of patriotic or religious intention.
Stanford wrote incidental music for a number of plays, including the Cambridge Greek Play, and several operas, including The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, based on Thomas Moore’s poem Lalla Rookh.
A prolific orchestral composer, Stanford wrote seven symphonies, a Clarinet Concerto and a number of other concertos, and five Irish Rhapsodies.
Stanford wrote a quantity of chamber music for various instrumental ensembles. These works include three piano trios, the last composed in 1918, and various works for clarinet and piano.
Stanford’s piano music is seldom heard but his organ music still finds a place in recital repertoire. This includes four sonatas and a number of compositions that explore again traditional forms of organ music.
Stanford made a significant addition to the repertoire of English and Irish song.