George Martin (organist)

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George Martin, 1897

Sir George Clement Martin MVO (11 September 1844 – 21 February 1916) was an English organist, who served at St Paul's Cathedral.[1]


He was born in Lambourn, Berkshire on 11 September 1844. Footman's "History of Lambourn Church" describes him as "the only famous man to come from Lambourne" (sic). He has a memorial plaque in Lambourn church near the organ.

His interest began after he heard Sir Herbert Oakeley play Bach in Lambourn.[2] He studied organ under John Stainer, supposedly cycling from Lambourn to Oxford every day for his studies.

He was a composer, mostly of church music, which included a Te Deum in A, performed at the Thanksgiving Service held on the steps of the Cathedral in Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year. He was given a knighthood in the Diamond Jubilee Honours.

He also wrote a primer on "The Art of Training Choir Boys" which became a standard work on the subject.[3]

Martin transcribed Sir Edward Elgar's 1897 work "Imperial March" for organ, in which form it is still frequently played by many concert organists, often as an encore. It is, in this form, possibly better known than in the original orchestral arrangement, which (outside England) is only occasionally performed - organist Simon Preston's 1964 recording on the organ of Westminster Abbey is one well-known version.

He was appointed a Member (4th class) of the Royal Victorian Order in the November 1902 Birthday Honours list.[4]

He died 21 February 1916, in London.

He is perhaps best known for his hymn tune "St. Helen" (commonly used for the hymn "Lord, enthroned in heavenly splendour").


Sub organist at

Organist of:

  • Lambourn Parish Church
  • Dalkeith for the Duke of Buccleuch in 1871 and St. Peter's, Edinburgh, briefly at the same time[5]
  • St Paul's Cathedral 1888 - 1916[6]
Cultural offices
Preceded by
John Stainer
Organist and Master of the Choristers of St Paul's Cathedral
1888 - 1916
Succeeded by
Charles Macpherson


  1. ^ The Succession of Organists. Watkins Shaw.
  2. ^ Historical Companion to Hymns A&M, p.682
  3. ^ The Musical Times. 1 April 1916. p.185
  4. ^ "No. 27493". The London Gazette (Supplement). 7 November 1902. pp. 7161–7163.
  5. ^ Historical Companion to Hymns A&M, p.682
  6. ^ The mirror of music, 1844-1944. Percy Alfred Scholes