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date: 29 March 2020

Stanford, Sir Charles Villierslocked

  • Jeremy Dibble

Extract

(b Dublin, Sept 30, 1852; d London, March 29, 1924). British composer, teacher and conductor. A prodigiously gifted musician of great versatility, he, along with Parry and Mackenzie, did much to forge the new standards of the so-called ‘renaissance’ in British music at the end of the 19th century. As a composer he brought a technical brilliance to almost all genres, though success in opera, in which he aspired to excel, generally eluded him until the end of his life. In spite of his stature as a composer (particularly in the province of church music), he is perhaps best known as a teacher of several generations of British composers who passed through his hands at the RCM and Cambridge University.

The only child of John James Stanford, one of Dublin's most eminent lawyers, and his second wife, Mary (née Henn), who also originated from a distinguished Irish legal family, Stanford grew up in a highly stimulating cultural and intellectual environment made up of his father's friends, most of whom emanated from the ecclesiastical, medical or judicial professions. His home, at 2 Herbert Street, was the meeting-place of numerous amateur and professional musicians – his father, a capable singer and cellist, among them – and on various occasions celebrities such as Joachim came to the house....

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