|CHAMBER MUSIC : Trio; Quartet in C- Minor; Petite Suite de Ballet.|
|DRAMATIC : Pauline; Harold; The Enchanted Garden; Cupid's Conspiracy; Thorgim; Signa.|
|CHORAL : Song of Thanksgiving; Transfiguration; The Veil; Ode to Passions; Coronation Ode, etc.|
About Sir Frederic H. Cowen:
Cowen Frederic Hymen: My Art and My Friends; Willeby Charles. Masters of English Music.
Musical Opinion 41:207 1918.
UPON the recent death of Sir Edward Elgar, the much-coveted position of "Master of Music to His Majesty" was conferred upon Sir Walford Davies, England's leading contemporary composer of church music. Henry Walford Davies was born at Oswestry on September 6, 1869. In 1882, he entered the choir of St. George's Chapel in Windsor, and as a pupil-assistant of Walter Parratt received a rigorous training in the principles of Anglican Church music --lessons which were to influence his work so profoundly in later life. Meanwhile, as a student of Parry and Stanford at the Royal College of Music he was proving to possess such talent that, in 1890, he won the scholarship in composition. Simultaneous with his studies and choral work, he served as organist at St. Anne's Church in Soho; ill-health finally compelled him to resign this position in order to accept less arduous work.
Shortly after graduating from the Royal College of Music, Davies accepted a position as teacher of counterpoint at the institution. He remained there for eight years. However, one position could hardly satisfy a young man of Davies' enormous energy. In 1898, he succeeded Dr. E. J. Hopkins as organist and director of Temple Church--and for twenty years, Davies filled this post with rare distinction, achieving remarkable results in the performance of great church choral music.
Altho his duties at Temple Church and at the Royal College of Music were numerous and taxing, Davies' pen was not idle. He had already received considerable encouragement in his composition when performances of such early works as the First Symphony and the Piano Quartet in E-Flat elicited kind words from the critics. Now, notwithstanding his many other duties, his fecundity in composition was amazing. Important works for solo voices, for chorus, for chamber-groups and orchestra left his pen--and all on a high plane of excellence. As a matter of fact, his most important work, Everyman--a mystery play for chorus--dates from this period. Everyman has since been performed by choral societies thruout the entire world, and is today accepted as an all-important contribution to the literature of choral music.
"Everyman is not only the biggest (in composition rather than in actual size) of all his works," writes Herbert Antcliffe, "but it is the one which gives the index to all he has done of a sacred character. It is even more than this, for while it shows the originality and depth of his thought and feeling, it shows equally clearly his limitations. It is not dramatic in any but an abstract meaning of the term. Mediaevalist as he is, in his fondness for this type of work, Walford Davies has not the sense of the theatre. . . . His individuality of style has much to do with this."
Since the turn of the Twentieth Century, Davies has acquired an enviable reputation as the choral conductor of such organizations as the Bach Choir and the London Church Choir Festivals Association. He also, for a short time, held a position as teacher of music at the University of Wales. His greatest importance lies, however, in his original compositions--particularly his choral works, in which he exerted the strongest influence on the church music of his generation. The spiritual quality of his music, its orthodox form and style, its poignant emotions and its simplicity have succeeded in gaining an enormous following for his church music.
During the War, Davies organized musical activity among the soldiers, and he succeeded in having entire battalions singing part-time music. In 1922, as a reward for his valuable services to Eng-