Gadsby, Henry Robert


This organist and composer, a late representative of the modern English school, was born in London; was a choir-boy in St. Paul's Cathedral from 1849 to 1858, where he studied to some extent under William Bayley, the choirmaster, but was afterward self-taught. After holding several different positions as organist, up to 1884, he succeeded John Hullah as professor of harmony in Queen's College, London, and in 1893, after Cusins' death, became also professor of piano and director of musical studies there. He was also a professor at the Guildhall School of Music, London, a member of the Philharmonic Society, and an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Organists. His compositions include the following: The cantatas, Alice Brand, Lord of the Isles, Columbus, and The Cyclops; and the three overtures, to The Golden Legend, to Andromeda, and to The Witches' Frolic. For orchestra are three symphonies, one of which, the Festal, was written for the Queen's Jubilee, and produced in 1888 at the Crystal Palace; a suite, The Forest of Arden; an intermezzo and scherzo; an organ concerto; a string quartet; an andante and rondo for piano and flute; and incidental music to several plays, including Alcestis, Andromache, and Tasso's Aminta. He also wrote songs and part-songs, but it is his church-music that made his reputation. This includes a number of anthems, various services, and other works, including a Magnificat and Nunc dimittis with orchestral accompaniment. He also wrote a book of sight-reading exercises and a treatise on harmony. Riemann ranks Gadsby among the most important English composers of modern times. J. D. Brown speaks of his works as " broad in design and careful in execution," and places The Lord of the Isles first among them.