|Birth name||Basil Harwood|
11 April 1859|
Woodhouse, Gloucestershire, England
|Died||3 April 1949
|Occupations||Organist and Composer|
||This article possibly contains original research. (September 2008)|
Basil Harwood was born in Woodhouse, Gloucestershire (the second youngest of 12 children) on 11 April 1859. His mother died in 1867 when Basil was eight. His parents were Quakers but his elder sister Ada, on reaching 21 in 1867, converted to the Anglican Church. Basil was allowed to attend the ceremony at the Church of England in Almondsbury and this is where he was first drawn to organ music and choral singing. His father, Edward, remarried two years later in 1869 to a lady from an Anglican family. Basil was now sent to the Montpellier School in Weston-super-Mare for a year. In 1871, at 12 he was enrolled in Clevedon, the preparatory school for Charterhouse where he was first to formally study music.
He went up to Charterhouse in 1874 and left in 1876 having won a leaving Exhibition to Trinity College, Oxford where he initially studied Classics (1879) and Modern History (1880). He then studied for a further two years, 1881–1882, at the Leipzig Conservatory under Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn. It was here in 1882, Basil composed his first anthem for chorus and organ O Saving Grace. He returned from Leipzig to realise that he had now passed the age limit to study music formally.
In 1883, Basil became organist of St. Barnabas Church, Pimlico completing his Sonata in C# Minor here in 1885, selling the copyright to the publisher Schott for one shilling a year or two later. After this success, he then moved to Ely Cathedral in 1887 where he wrote the bulk of Dithyramb, possibly his greatest organ work. His final appointment was as organist at Christ Church, Oxford and as precentor of Keble College, Oxford from 1892 to 1909. Whilst there he co-founded and conducted the Oxford Bach Choir which helped to earn him his degree as Doctor of Music. He conducted the Oxford Orchestral Association (1892–1898). He was musical editor of the 1908 Oxford Hymn Book and Examiner for Musical Degrees (1900–1925)
During this time, he met and married Mabel Ada Jennings (the daughter of George Jennings) (who had become a pupil of his in 1896) at All Souls St. Marylebone, London (27 December 1899). Mabel had studied music herself, piano and composition, and was also a writer. She may well have composed lyrics for some of his lesser known tunes. At an advanced age she wrote a small volume of collected poems named Questing Soul.
He retired early at 50 (in 1909) after the death of his father, Edward Harwood, from whom he inherited the family estate of Woodhouse having outlived his seven older brothers. Soon after moving in he had a three manual chamber organ built in the library by Bishop & Sons of Ipswich (now in Minehead Parish Church), on which he promptly finished his Sonata in F# Minor. He continued to compose prolifically.
In 1936 advancing in years, he let the Woodhouse estate and moved to Bournemouth. Part of the estate, Woodhouse Down, was later sold to his contemporary Robert Baden-Powell who was two years older than he was and who had also attended Charterhouse School, and is used as a Scout Camp to this day.
In 1939, at eighty, he moved to London, taking a flat in Fleet Street. After a long life, he died on 3 April 1949, eight days short of his 90th birthday, at Courtfield Gardens in the Royal Borough of Kensington, London. A memorial service was held in St Paul's Cathedral on 22 April 1949. Mabel survived him, dying shortly before her 103rd birthday on 20 July 1974. He was survived by two sons; Major John Edward Godfrey Harwood (1900–1996) and Basil Antony Harwood (1903–1990) Senior Master of the Supreme Court, Q.B.D. and Queen's Remembrancer.
His remains are interred in St. Barnabas Church, Pimlico and marked by a plaque inset in floor of the chancel, close to where he would have stood to conduct the choir.
He composed cantatas, church music and works for the organ; his Service in A flat, the anthem O how Glorious and the hymn tunes Luckington ("Let all the world in every corner sing") and Thornbury ("Thy hand O God has guided"), first used during a festival of the London Church Choir Association, remain in the Anglican repertory.
Organ and Choral Works
- Op.2 No.1 Agnus Dei
- Op.2 No.2 O Salutaris
- Op.5 Sonata No.1 in C sharp minor 1886
- Op.6 Morning & Evening Canticles in A flat major (Choir)
- Op.7 Dithyramb
- Op.12 O How Glorious is the Kingdom
- Op.13 No.1 Sing and Rejoice
- Op.13 No.2 When the Son of Man shall come
- Op.14 Short Setting of the Office for the Holy Communion in D major 1902
- Op.15 No.1 Communion in F major 1902
- Op.15 No.2 Interlude in D major 1902
- Op.15 No.3 Paean 1902
- Op.15 No.4 Short Postlude for Ascensiontide 1902
- Op.15 No.5 Requiem Aeternam 1902
- Op.15 No.6 Andante Tranquillo 1902
- Op.16 Capriccio for Organ 1903
- Op.18 Two Sketches for Organ 1903
- Op.20 As by the Streams of Babylon (Choir) 1907
- Op.21 This is the day which the Lord hath made
- Op.22 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me 1909
- Op.24 Concerto in D major for Organ & Orchestra
- Op.25 Three Cathedral Preludes (Organ)
- Op.26 Sonata No. 2 in F sharp minor 1912
- Op.27 Song on May Morning 1913
- Op.32 In an Old Abbey 1923
- Op.34 Christmastide 1920
- Op.35 Short and Easy Setting of the Office for the Holy Communion in key of E flat 1920
- Op.38 Morning & Evening Canticles in E minor (Choir)
- Op.39 Rhapsody for Organ 1922
- Op.40 Wedding March 1923
- Op.41 O How Plentiful is Thy Goodness
- Op.42 Three Preludes on Anglican Chants (Organ) 1925
- Op.44 Processional (Organ) 1926
- Op.45 Three Short Pieces for Organ 1927
- Op.46 In Exitu Israel (Organ) 1928
- Op.49 Toccata (Organ)
- Op.51 Prelude, Larghetto and Finale (Organ) 1931
- Op.54 Let the People Praise Thee O God
- Op.58 8 pieces for organ.
- Op.60 No.2 All My Heart this Night Rejoices
- Op.64 Draw Nigh to God
- Op.65 Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in A (For Men's Voices)
- Op.70 Voluntary for Organ in D flat major 1926
- Communion for Organ on the hymn tune “Irish”
- Evensong for St Etheldreda
- Luckington - Let All the World in Every Corner Sing
- Thornbury 1898 – Thy Hand O God hath Guided [and] O Jesus I Have Promised
- O How Glorious is The Kingdom 1894
- Draw Nigh to God
- I am the Living Bread
- In God's Holy Dwelling
- Great God, and Wilt Thou Condescend?
- St Audrey - Blessed Thomas, Doubt No Longer
- Sweet Saviour, Bless Us
- O Sacred Banquet
- I waited patiently for the Lord (Anglican Chant in A flat)
References and bibliography
- Jeremy Dibble, "Harwood, Basil (1859-1949)" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004) http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/33749 accessed 1 Feb 2005
- A booklet by Valerie Ruddle entitled "The Life and Hymn Tunes of Basil Harwood" was published by the Hymn Society of Great Britain and Ireland in 1996.
- Basil Harwood also donated some compositions to the Bodleian Library, Oxford in 1947. http://www.cecilia-uk.org/html/search/verb/GetRecord/1098
- "Basil Harwood of Woodhouse" - published by Olveston Parish Historical Society in 2008. Available via their website at http://www.olvestonparishhistoricalsociety.btik.com/gallery/2330081653.ikml
- After his death, his executors gave many manuscript and printed copies of his music to the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM). http://www.cecilia-uk.org/html/search/verb/GetRecord/892
- There are also some letters and other compositions in the Royal College of Music Library and the Charterhouse Archives.
- Free scores by Basil Harwood at the International Music Score Library Project
- Free scores by Basil Harwood in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)