Gauntlett, Henry

1805-1876

English composer, editor, and organist; was born at Wellington; son of a clergyman, and played the organ before reaching his teens. At twentyone he was apprenticed to a solicitor, and in five years began the practise of law, but in the meantime continued his musical work, and was organist at St. Olave's from 1827 to 1847. About 1836 he began to advocate a change in the compass of the organ keyboard, extending it from C to C instead of the commonly used form of F and G. This innovation was looked upon unfavorably, but, with the assistance of William Hill, a prominent organbuilder, who reconstructed according to this new model several large organs in London, as well as building new ones, he finally succeeded in bringing about the use of the C organ over England. He also patented, in 1852, an electro-magnetic device to be used in organs with pneumatic action; this was a step toward the improved electro-pneumatic action of the present day. Gauntlett became organist of Christ Church, Newgate Street, in 1836, where the instrument was rebuilt by Hill. In 1842 he gave up his law practise and turned his attention entirely to music, the next year receiving the degree of Doctor of Music from Lambeth. He was later organist of two other churches, and continued active work in that line until 1872. Gauntlett was in his day considered one of the best organists and authorities on psalmody, and composed much church-music. His later reputation rests on his collection of hymns and psalms, and on his own anthems and hymns, which are much used, especially the latter. He also published editions of works by Bach, Beethoven and other composers.