Barnby, Joseph

Composer

b York 1838, d Westminster, London 1896. A boy chorister at St George’s Windsor aged 7, he was an organist at 12 and choirmaster at 14. After studies at the RAM from 1854 (aged 16) he had two brief appointments (at Queenhithe and Westminster) before becoming organist at St Andrew’s Wells St (London) 1863–71, St Anne’s Soho 1871–86 (see also W Croft), and Eton Coll 1875–92 where he was precentor and musical adviser—the school’s ‘first real Director of Music’, running his programme in quasi-military style in the quest for excellence. In 1866 he was probably the first to introduce the harp in a CofE service, for Gounod’s music (qv). A warm admirer of J S Bach when this was rarer than it was to become, in 1871 he conducted the first performance in any UK church of the St Matthew Passion, in Westminster Abbey; also his St John Passion annually at Soho. He also conducted the Royal (Albert Hall) Choral Soc. In 1876 he founded ‘Barnby’s Choir’ and was Music Editor of The Hymnary, (Anglican, 1872), one Free Ch of Scotland book (1893) and 2 Congregational ones (1890, 1891); musical advisor to Novello Ltd, 1861–76; co-edited The Cathedral Psalter in 1873. He also helped to introduce British audiences to Wagner and Dvorák. He composed one oratorio, numerous part-songs, 45 anthems and 246 hymn-tunes, 15 of which feature in the earlier edns of A&M. Both edns of CH contain a dozen of these. He was knighted 1892, the year in which he became Principal of and Prof at the GSM where he remained for the last 4 years of his life. The hymn-tunes were collected and published posthumously in 1897. His reputation suffered through the influence of R Vaughan Williams qv, but showed signs of recovery in a late 20th-c revival of interest in Victorian music. Nos.217, 395, 438=742=828, 578, 817, 929.