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     Davies, Sir Henry Walford (6th September 1869-11th March 1941)

    He was a composer born in Oswestry, Salop, England, as the seventh of nine children.  Growing up in a musical family, his father was a flautist, cellist and choir leader and three of his brothers were organists at the Congregational Church in Christ Church.  He opted to use the name Walford, which had been his grandmother's maiden name and he become known as either Walford Davies or H. Walford Davies.  He could play many instruments from a very young age and would often perform as part of an informal group with members of his family, and he also possessed the gift of having a good singing voice.  Permitted to enter St. George's, Windsor, as a chorister when he as twelve, he would attend their school and participate in at least fourteen services each week.  Her he would become acquainted with Sir Walter Parratt whose specialty was organ renaissance and he would end up studying with him for five years prior to his entry to the Royal Academy of Music where he would be taught by Charles Villers Stanford and Hubert Parry, remaining there after graduation in 1895 as a teacher of counterpoint.  As an organist he could be heard in several churches in London until 1898, when he took the position in the Temple Church, where he would stay for the next 19 years and introduce "Cantata Sundays" and "Carols in the Round".  At the same time he held the position of conductor with the Bach Choir.  In 1917 he accepted the post of Director of Music for the new military service, the Royal Air Force and while there he would compose the still regularly used "RAF March Past". After WWI in 1919 he went to the University of Wales in Aberystwyth as Professor of Music, which led him to being made Chairman of the Welsh National Council of Music.  During the 1920s he would lecture as Professor of Music at Gresham College, London and the BBC employed him to record lectures and broadcast the radio programme Music and the Ordinary Listener, when he became a popular personality right through until WWII.  Still a performer, he became the organist at St. Georges Chapel, Windsor, from 1927, and after the death of Sir Edward Elgar he stepped into his shoes as Master of the King's Music.  As a composer his works were written for choirs, soloists and orchestras and were largely on a religious theme and they include his oratorio Everyman, the work for organ and orchestra entitled "Solemn Melody" and settings for the Christmas carols "The Holly and the Ivy" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem".  As a screen composer he wrote the music score for the documentary 90 Degrees South and as an author he wrote the book The Pursuit of Music, which was aimed at being a non-specialist publication.  Honoured for his services to music he was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1919, knighted by King George V in 1922 and made a Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order in 1937.  Living in Bristol, England, in his final years he died there in 1941 aged 72.

     

    Sources:

    1. http://www.boychoirs.org/choirmasters/historic/hdir001.html
    2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Walford_Davies
    3. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0219466/
    4. http://www.musicweb.uk.net/brian/zwalford.htm

     

     

     

     

     


     

     

     

     

     



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