Cliffe, Frederick


Pianist and composer, who was born at Low Moor, Yorkshire, England, and as a child gained a local reputation as a pianist and organist. At eleven, he was organist at the Wyke Parish Church, and at sixteen appeared as organist to the Bradford Festival Choral Society. About this time he also began to attract attention by his voice. In 1876 he was elected to a scholarship in the National Training School for Musicians, and after graduating became pianist and accompanist on various concert tours. He played at the Promenade concerts at Covent Garden, in 1882,. and when the Royal College of Music was opened the next year he received the appointment of professor of piano at that institution. He was organist to the Bach choir from 1888 until 1894 and of the Italian Opera at Drury Lane, Her Majesty's and Covent Garden about the same time. After about twenty years' service in various capacities he retired in 1889. Cliffe came into notice as a composer with a symphony in C minor produced at Crystal Palace in 1889, and the next year composed an orchestral picture, entitled Clouds and Sunshine, which was produced by the Philharmonic Society and attracted considerable notice. The Triumph of Alcestis, a scena for contralto and orchestra written for the Norwich Festival, was also an ambitious composition. For the Leeds Festival, of 1892, he wrote a second symphony, A Summer Night, and a violin concerto for the Norwich Festival of 1896, His compositions have won him the praise and esteem of musicians because of their general excellence. He was appointed examiner for the Association Board of the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College of Music, London, and for them toured Australia in 1898 and in 1900. In 1903 he visited South Africa.