Sir Joseph Barnby

sir-joseph-barnby-thumbBarnby was born at York, August 12, 1838 and died at London, January 28, 1896.

As a boy he sang in the choir of York Cathedral, and was an organist and choirmaster at the age of 12.

After graduating at the Royal Academy of Music, he held various important church organ positions in or near London, notably at St. Andrew’s (1863-1871) and St. Anne’s, Soho Square (1876-87).

He was musical advisor to Novello & Co. for a number of years, and with the aid of this firm established the “Barnby Choir,” which afterwards became the present Royal Choral Society.

He did great work as a conductor and educator, and especially in producing the works of Bach at a time when they were less appreciated by English audiences than at present.

He also conducted the first performance of Parsifal (choral version) in England in 1884.

Barnby was precentor of music at Eton College and also became director (1892) of the Guildhall School of Music.

As a composer he is best known by his anthems, part-songs, hymns, etc. His setting of Tennyson’s Sweet and Low is perhaps the best known of his works.

The anthem O Lord, How Manifold, is also well known, and of the 246 hymn tunes that he wrote, Laudes Domini (When Morning Gilds the Sky) and Sarum (For All Thy Saints) are popular examples.

Barnby was knighted in 1892, and the same year conducted the Cardiff Festival.