Stanford, Sir Charles Villiers



Distinguished musician and conductor and at present the chief symphonic composer of England. Was born in Dublin, of a musical family, his father, John Stanford, being a good vocalist. The home of the Stanfords was a rallying point for musicians, and Charles was taught music by his parents. At an early age he displayed considerable talent as a pianist and a taste for composing. One of his teachers was Sir Robert Stewart, and from 1862 he studied composition with Arthur O'Leary, and piano with Ernst Pauer in London, and in 1870 won an organ scholarship at Queen's* College, Cambridge. In 1873 Stanford succeeded Dr. Hopkins as organist of Trinity College, and was made conductor of the Cambridge University Musical Society. For two years, from 1875 to 1877, he studied with Reinecke at Leipsic, going in 1877 to Berlin to pursue his studies further under Kiel. In 1883 Oxford and in 1888 Cambridge bestowed upon him the degree of Doctor of Music. In 1883 he received the appointment as professor of composition and conductor of the orchestra at the Royal College of Music, upon the opening of that institution, posts he holds at the present time. He succeeded Goldschmidt as conductor of the Bach Choir in 1885, and G. A. Macfarren as professor of music at Cambridge in 1887. In 1897 he was appointed conductor of the Leeds Philharmonic Society. In 1902 Stanford was made a knight. His earliest compositions were chants and hymns, written when he was six. Before he was quite ten he had given his first piano recital, when he played several compositions of his own. A march which he wrote at seven was given at the Dublin Theatre Royal during a Christmas pantomime. His lirst composition to attract any attention was a set of songs from George Eliot's Spanish Gypsy. Stanford has composed the operas, The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan, after Moore's dramatic poem; The Canterbury Pilgrims: Savonarola; and Shamus O'Brien, besides the incidental music to Tennyson's Queen Mary, and Becket;  Eschylus' Eumenides, and Sophocles' CEdipus. He has also written many choral works; an oratorio, The Resurrection; Elegiac ode; Elegiac symphony; Jubilee ode, The Battle of the Baltic; mass in B; requiem; five symphonies; church services; overtures and many songs. His best known oratorios are Three Holy Children, and Eden. Stanford's most recent works are the opera, Much Ado About Nothing; a Stabat Mater; a symphony in E flat; serenade for wind-instruments and strings and three Dante rhapsodies for piano. His settings of Browning's Cavalier Songs and his Elizabethan Pastorals, which are beautiful and characteristic part-songs, and his arrangements of the national melodies of Ireland, as well as his Irish symphony, have earned him great praise from musical critics. He has written much sea music, and one critic has said: " Stan- ford should without doubt be appointed musician to the Admiralty, for in all his sea-songs there is an element of patriotism." Stanford has trained the most promising of the younger generation of English composers since assuming the professorship of the Royal College of Music in 1883. Stanford has improved musical conditions at Cambridge in particular and in England in general.