CD 200: ORGANISTS OF THE 1950s VOLUME ONE
From the 1952 BBC Radio Series
Organ Music from British Cathedrals & Abbeys
John Dykes Bower - St. Paul's
Cathedral, London - Recorded 17 April 1952
 Spoken introduction  John Stanley (1712-1786) Voluntary in A minor
 Charles Macpherson (1870-1927) Prelude in G from The Little Organ Book
 Hubert Parry (1848-1918) Chorale Fantasia on
The Old 104th from Set One, Op. 198
Meredith Davies - Hereford Cathedral - Recorded 22 April 1952
 Spoken introduction  Maurice Greene (1696-1755) Voluntary in C minor
- J. S. Bach (1685-1750) Fantasia & Fugue in C minor, B.W.V. 537
Herbert Sumsion - Glouchester Cathedral - Recorded 23 April 1952
 Spoken introduction
 Herbert Howells (1892-1983) Rhapsody No. 3 in C sharp minor, Op. 17
Alwyn Surplice - Winchester Cathedral - Recorded 2 May 1952
 Spoken introduction
 Henry Ley (1887-1962) Jubilate Deo
 William H. Harris (1883-1973) Prelude in E flat from Four Short Pieces
 William H. Harris Reverie from Four Short Pieces
 Charles V. Stanford (1852-1924) Postlude in D minor from
Second Set of Preludes & Postludes Op. 105
Douglas Guest - Salisbury Cathedral - Recorded 3 May 1952
 Spoken introduction
 Herbert Howells Psalm Prelude No. 3 from the First Set
Conrad Eden - Durham Cathedral - Recorded 8 May 1952
 Spoken introduction
- William Russell (1777-1813) Largo & Fugue in A minor
 Charles V. Stanford Heroic March from Four Characteristic Pieces
Francis Jackson - York Minster - Recorded 9 May 1952
 Spoken introduction
 Percy Whitlock (1903-1946) Carol from Four Extemporisations
 César Franck (1822-1890) Pièce Héroïque from Trois Pièces
TOTAL PLAYING TIME: 78.06
Recordings digitally restored & produced by Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings
These performances were recorded in complete takes, and later broadcast as part of the B.B.C.'s Third Programme series Organ Music from English Cathedrals and Abbeys, during 1952, on medium wave, three years before the introduction of V.H.F. or F.M as we now refer to it. They were recorded on magnetic tape and then transferred by the B.B.C. to 331/3 r.p.m. transcription discs, from which these recordings are taken, the original master tapes have long since vanished. At this time, during the transition from 78 r.p.m. record to 331/3 r.p.m. L.P. record, relatively little organ music was recorded commercially, and although B.B.C. radio were broadcasting organ recitals frequently, very few of these transmissions survive, making these recordings rare and precious gems. Extracts from the spoken announcements have been retained to add period feel. I am grateful to Timothy Day of the National Sound Archives, London, who brought these recordings to my attention also thanks to Enid Bird of Wakefield for her biographical notes on the performers, which are reproduced by kind permission from her book - Twentieth Century British Cathedral Organists.
Martin Monkman, Amphion Recordings, August 2004
The Organs at the time of the recordings
St. Paul's London: 'Father' Smith - 1679. In 1872, 'Father' Henry Willis complete re build with further by modifications by Willis in 1897 and 1900. More alterations by Henry Willis III in 1930.
Hereford Cathedral: Built by 'Father' Henry Willis in 1892, replacing the Gray & Davison instrument of 1862-64, only the pipe-rack forming the case of the present organ survives. Further modifications made in 1909 by Henry Willis II and rebuilt by Henry Willis III in 1933.
Gloucester Cathedral: 'Father' Henry Willis 1847 (including pipework from 1666 Thomas Harris. Rebuilt by Willis, 1889 and Harrison & Harrison, 1920 and as heard here no longer exists.
Winchester Cathedral: Core of this organ by 'Father' Henry Willis built for the Great Exhibition of 1851. When installed in Winchester it was reduced to 49 stops spread over four-manuals. Rebuilt and enlarged by Willis again 1897, with some tonal alterations. Enlarged by the firm of Hele in 1905. 1938 rebuilt Harrison & Harrison.
Salisbury Cathedral: 'Father' Henry Willis 1877, uncharged to this day.
Durham Cathedral: 'Father' Henry Willis 1876/7. Rebuilt 1905 by Harrison & Harrison, with further additions by them in 1935, the organ remains in their care.
York Minster: Built 1831 by Elliott & Hill and entirely reconstructed by the same firm in 1863. Work carried out by Walkers & Sons in 1903. 1916 alterations by Harrison & Harrison who completely rebuilt the instrument in 1930.
The Performers by Enid Bird
John Dykes Bower was born on 13th August, 1905 at Gloucester. He studied with Sir Herbert Brewer Organist of Gloucester Cathedral. He was educated at Cheltenham College and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University. He was M.A., Mus. B, a John Stewart of Rannoch Scholar in Sacred Music, 1922-1928 and was an Hon D. Mus (Oxon). He was Organist and Master of the Choristers at Truro Cathedral from 1926-1929, Organist of New College Oxford 1929-1933, Organist of Durham Cathedral, 1933-1936 and a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, 1934-1937. In 1936 he was appointed Organist of St. Paul's Cathedral London, a post he held until his retirement in 1967. From 1960 to 1962 he was President of the R.C.O. and was their Honorary Secretary in 1968. He received the honour of C.V.O in 1953 and was Knighted in 1963.
During his tenure at St. Paul's, war was declared on 3rd September 1939, and the first air raid warning came during Matins. From 6th October, all sung services were held in the crypt chapel. The boys in the choir school had been evacuated to Truro in August 1939 and Dykes Bower served in the Air Force. Douglas Hopkins, the Sub-Organist, directed the choir. The boys came back to the choir school at the end of hostilities in Europe, which had not been destroyed by bombs or fire. The Festival of Britain began in May 1951 with a service at St. Paul's attended by King George VI and Queen Elizabeth. The Coronation Thanksgiving Service was attended by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on 9th June 1953, and later that year the choir gave a concert tour of the U.S.A. In 1965, the funeral of Sir Winston Churchill was held in the cathedral. Dykes Bower died on 29th May 1981.
Albert Meredith Davies was born 30th July 1922, educated at the Stationer's School, and the R.C.M. as Junior Exhibitioner at the age of eight. In 1941 he went up to Oxford as Organ Scholar of Keble College where he read for the Honours School of Philosophy, Politics and Economics, taking the degrees of B.Mus., and M.A. He holds the F.R.C.O., Diploma, together with the Silver Medal of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He was elected F.R.C.M., 1971, Fellow of St. Michael's College, Tenbury, 1954 and was Organist to Hurstpierpont College, Sussex in 1939.
He served in the 1939-45 war in the R. A. from 1942 to 1945 and became Organist of St. Alban's Cathedral from 1947 to 1949. He was Musical Director of St. Alban's School from 1948 to 49 and conducted the St. Alban's Bach Choir in 1947. In 1949 he was appointed Organist of Hereford Cathedral succeeding Sir Percy Hull. He conducted the Three Choirs Festivals of 1952 and 1955, in which latter year he made some important changes to the pattern of Festival Week.
He spent some time studying in Rome at the Academia di S. Cecilia. He was Deputy Musical Director of the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, 1959-1960 and left New College in 1960 in order to devote himself to conducting. He conducted with Britten the first performance of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem in Coventry Cathedral. He conducted at the Covent Garden and Sadler's Wells and was Musical Director of the English Opera Group, 1962-1964. From 1964-71 he was Conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor of the B.B.C. training orchestra from 1969-1972. In 1972 he joined the staff of the R.C.M. and in the same year became Conductor of the Royal Choral Society. He became Principal of the Trinity College of Music in 1979 until 1989. He was created C.B.E. in 1982 and is Vice President of the R.C.O. but has relinquished his post as Conductor of the Royal Choral Society.
Herbert Whitton Sumsion was born in Gloucester on 19th January, 1899, he became a probationer in the Cathedral Choir in 1908, and a Chorister two years later. In August, 1914 he became an organ pupil of Dr. Herbert Brewer, in 1915 his Assistant Organist, and when seventeen years old became A.R.C.O., and a Fellow, six months later. He was Organist of Christ Church, Lancaster Gate, London 1922-1926. Sumsion was Director of Music at Bishop Stortford College, 1924-1926, Assistant Instructor in Music at Morley College before being appointed to be Professor of Harmony and Composition at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, U.S.A. from July 1926. He did not take up an appointment as Organist of Coventry Cathedral, but was released in order to return to Gloucester as Sir. Herbert Brewer's successor on his sudden death in 1928 taking charge at very short notice of the Gloucester Festival of that year. He was Director of Music at Cheltenham Ladies College, 1935-1968. He was A.R.C.M., B. Mus., (Dunelm), 1920, F.R.C.M., 1961 and F.R.S.C.M., 1963, also awarded the Lambeth degree of Doctor of Music in 1947 and created C.B.E., in 1961. Hon R.A.M. Sumsion did much to maintain and extend the importance of the Three Choirs Festival, being likewise an accomplished organist, pianist and conductor. He was the last direct link with Elgar and retired as Organist of Gloucester Cathedral in 1967 after 39 years in office. Sumsion's compositions include: Introduction and Theme for Organ, 1935; Morning and Evening Service G, 1935; Two pieces for Cello and Piano, 1939 (No. 1 arranged for string orchestra), Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in G for Boys' Voices 1953; for Men's Voices, 1953; for Boys' Voices in D, 1973; Cradle Song for Organ, 1953; Benedicite in B flat, 1955; Four Carol Preludes for Organ, 1956; Festival Benedicite in D, 1971; They that Go Down to the Sea in Ships, (anthem), 1979; Transposition Exercises, 1980; Piano Technique, a Book of Exercises, 1980; There is a Greenhill Far Away, (anthem), 1981; Two Anthems for Holy Communion, 1981; in Exile (By the Waters of Babylon) (anthem), 1981; A Unison Communion Service. In retirement he lived at Stroud, Gloucestershire and died on 11th August, 1996.
Reginald Alwyn Surplice was born 20th August, 1906 at Pangbourne, educated at Reading University, D. Mus., (Lambeth), B. Mus. (Dunelm), F.R.C.O., L.R.A.M., F.R.S.C.M., Organist of Pangbourne Parish Church 1922-1924 and of Easthampstead Parish Church 1924-26, Organist of Holy Trinity, Windsor 1928. Appointed Organist of Bristol Cathedral 1946-49 and Winchester Cathedral 1949-1971. He served in the second war from 1940-45, Sub-Organist of St. George's Chapel, Windsor 1932-1945. Appointed Conductor of the Southampton Philharmonic Society, 1958-65. Surplice was a Professor at the R.A.M., tutor at King Alfred's College, Winchester, 1950. A Council Member, R.C.O., Member of the I.A.O. and R.S.C.M. On his retirement in 1971 he was made a Doctor of Music, honoris causa, in recognition of his services to church music. He died 21st April 1977.
Douglas Albert Guest was born 9th May, 1916, Mortomley, Yorkshire, educated at Reading School, R.C.M., London, King's College, Cambridge. Organ Scholar, 1935-39, was John Stewart of Rannoch Scholar in Sacred Music at Cambridge University, 1936-39. Guest served in the war of 1939-45 as a Major (Battery Commander) Royal Artillery (H.A.C.) dispatches 1944, was gazetted Hon. Major R.A., April 1945. Was Director of Music at Uppingham School, 1945-1950, appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers, Salisbury Cathedral, 1950-1957, Conductor of the Salisbury Musical Society, 1950-1957 and Director of Music at St. Mary's School, Calne, 1950-1957. He was Organist and Master of the Choristers of Worcester Cathedral, 1957-1963, conductor of the Worcester Festival Chorus and the Three Choirs Festival, 1957-1963. Guest was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey from 1963 to 1981. He was a Professor at the R.C.M., 1963-1981, first Vice-President of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, 1984 (Chairman of the Council, 1953-1984). He was an Examiner A.B.R.S.M., Member of the Council of the R.C.O., 1966, and of the Musicians Benevolent Fund, 1968 and was made an Hon. Member of Royal Society of Musicians, 1963.
He was M.A., (Cantab) and Oxon), Mus.B., (Cantab)., Mus.D. (Cantuar); F.R.C.M., Hon R.A.M., F.R.C.O., F.R.S.C.M. and was created C.V.O. in 1975 and Organist Emeritus of Westminster Abbey, 1981. Douglas Guest died 16th November, 1996.
Conrad William Eden was born 4th May, 1905 in Wiltshire, was a chorister at Wells and then went on to Rugby School and St. John's College, Oxford where he took the degree of B.Mus. He returned to Wells as Assistant Organist in 1927 and succeeded Dr. Davis on his retirement in 1933. In 1936 became Organist and Master of the choristers at Durham Cathedral where he remained until his retirement in April, 1974. Upon his retirement he was awarded the honorary degree of D.Mus by the Archbishop of Canterbury. He died 16th October, 1994.
Francis Alan Jackson was born on 2nd October, 1917 in Malton, Yorkshire, a former pupil of Sir Edward Bairstow and as a boy had been a chorister in the Minster Choir, 1929-1933, Organist of Malton Parish Church, Yorkshire, 1933-1940 and gained his A.R.C.O. in 1936. He won the Limpus Prize F.R.C.O. examination, 1937. He returned to the Minster April 1946 as Assistant Organist after war service in the 9th Lancers in Egypt, N. Africa and Italy, 1940-46. Bairstow died on 1 May 1946 and Jackson was appointed Organist of York Minster on 8th October 1946. He was Conductor of the York Musical Society, 1947-1982, York Symphony Orchestra, 1947-1980, D.Mus., Durham University, 1957, Hon. F.R.S.C.M., Hon. F.R.N.C.M., 1982, Doctor of the University of York, 1983.
The affection felt by Jackson for his old teacher was reflected in the large amount of Bairstow's music which was sung and is still sung at the Minster. Also included in the repertoire are works by former York Minster Organists, notably Nares and Noble and by a growing number of living composers including Jackson himself. Dr. Jackson has given organ recitals throughout Great Britain, and in Eire, Germany, France, Italy, Hungary, Switzerland and Denmark. In addition, he has made several tours of the U.S.A. Canada and Australia, he remains to this day much in demand as a recitalist. He retired as Master of the Music of York Minster on 2 October 1982. In 1996 the Ebor Press of York published Dr Jackson's biography of Bairstow, entitled Blessed City, the life and works of Edward C. Bairstow (ISBN 1 85972 192 0). He is Patron of the Percy Whitlock Trust, in succession to Whitlock's widow, Edna. Since Jackson retired from the Minster he has composed prolifically; his opus now numbers 148, includes many choral works, a Symphony for Orchestra (1955), a Concerto for Organ, Strings, Timpani & Celesta (1985) and six organ sonatas, numbers five and six being composed in 2003 and 2004 respectively.
© Enid Bird, Wakefield, 2004