Herbert Brewer

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Memorial to Herbert Brewer in Gloucester Cathedral

Sir Alfred Herbert Brewer (21 June 1865 – 1 March 1928) was an English composer and organist. As organist of Gloucester Cathedral from 1896 until his death, he contributed a good deal to the Three Choirs Festival for 30 years.

Brewer lived in Gloucester his whole life. He was the organist at two of its churches, and also founded the city's choral society in 1905. He had been a Gloucester Cathedral chorister in his boyhood, and began his organ studies there under C. H. Lloyd. He was educated at the Cathedral School, Oxford and at the Royal College of Music.

In 1913, at the Three Choirs Festival in Gloucester, Brewer was entrusted with conducting the premiere of Sibelius's tone-poem for soprano and orchestra, Luonnotar, Op. 70. The soloist was Aino Ackté.

As a composer, Brewer was fairly conservative. His output includes church music of all types, cantatas, songs, instrumental works, and orchestral music. The greater part of his life was devoted to the advancement of the standards of ecclesiastical music. Some of it has been recorded on the Priory label. His Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in D major are in the standard repertoire of Anglican church music. An organ work, Marche Héroïque, is also revived from time to time (and was heard at the televised 1979 funeral of Lord Mountbatten). He was knighted in 1926.


Organ works[edit]

  • Meditation on the name of BACH
  • Solitude
  • An impression
  • Elegy
  • Introduction and Fugato
  • Marche héroïque

Choral works[edit]

  • Fear Not, O Land
  • God is our hope and strength
  • Let the people praise thee
  • I heard the bells
  • Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in D
  • Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in E flat
  • Magnificat and Nunc dimittis in F

Transcriptions for organ of Elgar's works[edit]

  • Prelude and Angel's Farewell, from The Dream of Gerontius, Op. 38
  • In the South, Op. 50
  • Chanson de Matin, Op. 15/1
  • Chanson de Nuit, Op. 15/2


The Choral Music of Herbert Brewer. Priory Records, 2002.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Charles Williams
Organist and Master of the Choristers of Gloucester Cathedral
Succeeded by
Herbert Sumsion