Walter Greatorex (30 March 1877 – 29 December 1949) was an English composer and musician. He is probably best remembered for his hymn tune Woodlands which has been used with hymns such as Henry Montagu Butler's Lift Up Your Hearts! and Timothy Dudley-Smith's Tell Out, my Soul.
Born in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, the son of a bank manager, from 1888 to 1893 Greatorex was a boy chorister at King's College, Cambridge. He was then educated at Derby School and St John's College, Cambridge. Lift up your hearts to his music became the school hymn of Derby School.
In 1900, he was appointed an assistant music master at Uppingham School. In 1911, he became Director of Music at Gresham's School, Holt, succeeding his fellow Old Derbeian Geoffrey Shaw, and remained at Gresham's for the rest of his working life, until he retired in 1949.
In 1919 he composed his most famous work, his hymn tune Woodlands, used for the hymn Lift up Your Hearts and for the Magnificat paraphrase Tell out My Soul. During his long career he also composed other hymns and organ music. Greatorex was known at Gresham's as 'Gog' or 'Greatoxe', and among those he taught at the school were Benjamin Britten (a boarder from 1928-1930), Sir Lennox Berkeley and W. H. Auden. Auden wrote of him that Albert Schweitzer played the organ no better than Walter Greatorex.
In July 1949, Greatorex retired to Bournemouth, where he lived in an hotel for a few months until his death in December of the same year.
- "Greatorex, Walter (GRTS895W)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Benson, Steve, I Will Plant Me a Tree: an Illustrated History of Gresham's School (London: James & James, 2002), pp. 52 & 68
- Hymns Ancient and Modern. Richard Clay (The Chaucer press). 1986. ISBN 0-907547-37-0.
- The Music of the English Church by Kenneth R. Long (Hodder and Stoughton, 1972)
- I Will Plant Me a Tree: an Illustrated History of Gresham's School (James & James, London, 2002)
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