Born: 22 August 1874
Died: 1 May 1946
Biography: Sir Edward Cuthbert Bairstow was born in Huddersfield on August 22, 1874 He was an English organist and composer in the Anglican church music tradition. In 1893, after a period of teaching at Windsor, he became an apprentice to Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey. He stayed in this position for six years as his pupil and assistant. He also held an appointment as Organist and Choirmaster at All Saints', Norfolk Square, London until 1899, when he went to Lancashire to take up the post of Organist at Wigan Parish Church. In 1906 he moved to Leeds Parish Church and was appointed Organist of York Minster in 1913, a post he held until his death in 1946.
In York he maintained the choral services at a high level and greatly widened the repertoire. He took the Doctorate of Music examinations at the University of Durham in 1902 and became Professor of Music there in 1929. This did not necessitate a move from York to Durham, for he was only required to give one lecture each year in order to fulfil his commitment. He was knighted in 1932, and received the Degree of Hon. D.Litt. from Leeds University in 1936.
He studied under John Farmer, Balliol College, Oxford, and while articled under Frederick Bridge of Westminster Abbey received tuition from Walter Alcock. After holding posts in London, Wigan and Leeds, he served as organist of York Minster from 1913 to his death. He was knighted in 1932. His anthems include Blessed City, Heavenly Salem, I Sat Down Under His Shadow, and Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence. He also wrote music for organ, including a sonata in E flat, and three service settings.
Notorious for his terseness and bluntness, Bairstow did not always endear himself to others. Asked whether he would be willing to follow the example of his predecessor at York and go to the United States, he replied that he would 'rather go to the devil.' Comfortably ensconced in Yorkshire, where he was a close friend of the equally blunt Dr Moody, Organist at Ripon Cathedral, he refused the offer to succeed Frederick Bridge at Westminster Abbey. He instead recommended his erstwhile pupil Ernest (later, Sir Ernest) Bullock, who was duly appointed to the post.
See Francis Jackson: Blessed City. The Life and Works of Edward C. Bairstow, William Sessions, York 1996. ISBN No. 1 85072 182 3. (See also the review by Steven Rhode.)
View the Wikipedia article on Edward Bairstow.
List of choral works
- As Moses lifted up the serpent
- Blessed city, heavenly Salem
- The Dawn of Song
- The day draws on with golden light
- The earth has grown old
- Evening service in D Major
- I sat down under his shadow
- Jesu, the very thought of thee
- The King of Love my Shepherd is
- Know ye not
- Let all mortal flesh keep silence
- Lord, I call upon Thee
- The promise which was made unto the fathers
- Save us, O Lord
- Sing ye to the Lord
- Though I speak with the tongues of men
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- Francis Jackson. "Bairstow, Sir Edward C(uthbert)", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy, Grovemusic.com