John Gerrish

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John O. Gerrish c.1950
John O. Gerrish 2010

John O'Neill (Jack) Gerrish (August 14, 1910 – November 29, 2010) was an American composer of the 20th century, best known for The Falcon, a cappella piece for SATB based on the Middle or Early Modern English Corpus Christi Carol.[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Gerrish was the son of Charles Percy Gerrish and Mary Elizabeth O'Neill of Potsdam, New York. He graduated from Crane School of Music in 1930, and led a dance band during the 1930s. He taught for ten years at Franklin Academy in Malone, New York and was a professor of music at Kean University in New Jersey for most of his career.[3]


In addition to The Falcon, Gerrish's better-known works include Variations on a Burgundian Carol for 3 Recorders, based on the carol Patapan, published in New York by Associated Music Publishers in 1957. Reviewer, Joel Newman, called the work "neatly-constructed, fun-to-play, but merely-cute variations."[4] Other published compositions include Why do the Bells of Christmas Ring? (1952) a cappella choir, I Sing A Maiden (1953), Fifteen Christmas melodies for soprano recorder and piano (1954), and the piano solos Country Dance, Mountain Climbing and 'South Wind (1954).

The Music Educators Journal published a detailed article and interview "A Family Program for Voices, Recorders, and Viols: The Gerrish Family" in 1962.[5] The New York State Teachers Association, Northern Zone, lists John Gerrish as Chairman of Music Section in Malone, New York, September 29, 1939. [6]

Personal life[edit]

Gerrish married twice. After the death of his first wife, Marion Benham of Saranac Lake, he married Claire Stackpole of Winooski.[3] Following his retirement, Gerrish was the organist at the Winooski United Methodist Church for twenty years.[3] He died on November 29, 2010, and is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery, Potsdam.[3]


  1. ^ Music Educators Journal, Vol. 43, No. 1 (Sep., 1956), pp. 67
  2. ^ Gerrish, Jim; Frederick Goode (August 2010). "100th Birthday Celebration of John O. Gerrish". East Orange Interactive Museum. Retrieved 2010-10-14. 
  3. ^ a b c d "John O. Gerrish". Watertown Daily Times. November 30, 2010. Retrieved 2010-12-05. 
  4. ^ Notes, 2nd Ser., Vol. 16, No. 4 (Sep., 1959), pp. 627-628
  5. ^ Music Educators Journal, Vol. 48, No. 4 (Feb., 1962), pp. 98-99
  6. ^ Music Educators Journal, Vol. 26, No. 1 (Sep., 1939), pp. 70-72