17th March – Charles Villiers Stanford
|Stanford (30th September 1852 – 29th March 1924) is our composer for 17th March, to mark St. Patrick’s Day, the Patron Saint of Ireland|
|Lifespan: 71 years|
|Education: University of Cambridge|
|Fame Ranking: 3|
Dublin born Charles Villiers Stanford was a distinguished musician and teacher, who was one of the founding members of the Royal College of Music. He came from a wealthy musical family and showed musical promise from an early age; he was giving public piano recitals from the age of just seven.
He studied Classics at Cambridge University, but put his efforts into his musical endeavours rather than into the academic field he was supposed to be studying. Although he graduated with a unimpressive third class degree in Classics, at the same time he was a leading member of the Cambridge University Music Society (CUMS), and was appointed to a professional post as organist at Trinity College, on a salary of 100 pounds a year and with ample time off to travel abroad to further his musical training. With CUMS he single-handedly transformed the choirs by allowing women to take part for the first time, and generally improving the standard and repertoire performed by the choirs and orchestras in the society.
Stanford was conservative in his musical tastes – he was a fan of Brahms and as a composition teacher he doggedly stuck to his favoured traditional ways. Nonetheless, his students at the Royal College include many who were much more experimental than he was, in terms of challenging the accepted tonal hierarchy or traditional musical forms; Holst and Vaughan Williams were among his pupils. Stanford composed many works of varying types, including a great deal of church music, seven symphonies and nine completed operas. His operas did not achieve rave reviews, but he was on the whole a well-accepted composer who enjoyed plenty of success in his lifetime. His works were overshadowed by some bigger names that followed in his footsteps, such as Vaughan Williams and Elgar.
In 1922 Stanford finished his sixth “Irish Rhapsody” and which was to be his final work. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
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