Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Search for Thomas F. Ward, Teacher of Frederick Delius

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Search for Thomas F. Ward, Teacher of Frederick Delius

Article excerpt

The Search for Thomas F Ward, Teacher of Frederick Delius. By Don C. Gillespie. (Gainesville: University Press of Florida.1996. Pp. xvi,180. $29.95.)

Thomas Ward (1856-1912) was buried in a pauper's unmarked grave in Houston's Holy Cross Cemetery. Ward was a professional musician, a music teacher, and a Catholic. But none of his musical compositions were preserved; only one verifiable photograph of him exists; only four of his letters are extant; his extensive library has vanished; all correspondence between him and his famous student, Frederick Delius, was destroyed.Why write and publish a biography about a man in historical oblivion? Moreover, Gillespie, a New York musicologist, an editor of the scores of modern composers, a writer for scholarly musical journals, is an unlikely biographer of Ward since his is neither an historian nor a Catholic, but his interest in the renowned Delius led him to the obscure Ward.

Gillespie tells two stories: the first, as his title implies, is about his dogged and patient pursuit for documentation about Ward; the second, is about Ward himself, a man unremembered, but whose life of quiet dignity touched others. Gillespie makes his search for Ward an integral part of the narrative. Some may find this self-referential detective tale distracting; the author's research difficulties become as important as Ward himself. Others may find some of Gillespie's conjectures about Ward, when evidence is lacking, disconcerting; yet one cannot but admire the author's love for his subject and his creative persistent research techniques over a ten-year period.

Nevertheless, Gillespie's work is valuable for several reasons. His thesis is that Ward had an important formative influence upon Delius by imparting to him both disciplined work habits and counterpoint techniques during their association in 1884 at Solano Grove (on the St. …

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