Thalben-Ball, George Thomas


b Sydney, NSW, Australia 1896, d Wimbledon, Surrey 1987. His Cornish parents returned home from Sydney while he was still very young, and at the age of 14 he won a scholarship to the RCM where (initially as a pianist) he became a prizewinning pupil. At 15 he was organist at Whitefield’s Tabernacle, London, proceeding to Holy Trinity Castelnau, SW London (1914–16) and Paddington Parish Ch (1916–19). He served at the Temple Ch first under H Walford Davies (qv) and succeeding him in 1923. With HMV in 1927 he took part in the first ever electrical recording, when choirboy Ernest Lough sang Mendelssohn’s Hear my Prayer; he continued to make organ recordings for the next half-century. He gave recitals in the UK, Europe, the USA and Australia. When in 1941 the Temple Ch was destroyed by wartime bombing, he became organist and consultant at the BBC, Prof of Organ at the RCM, council member of the RCO (and examiner for both institutions), and curator-organist at the Royal Albert Hall. In 1949 he also took the post of City and Univ Organist at Birmingham, which he held until 1982. He was music editor for School Worship (for Congregational Churches, 1926), edited The Choral Psalter (1940) and The Broadcast Psalter (1948) and was joint editor of The BBC Hymn Book (1951); many of his tunes appear in these books as in The School Hymn Book of the Methodist Church (1950), Hymns and Psalms (1983) and others. He toured Australia in 1951, S Africa 1954, New Zealand 1971 and the USA and Canada 1975. In 1969 he published 113 Variations on Hymn Tunes for Organ. In 1954 the Temple Church was restored and re-opened and he returned to give further service, supervising the building of its new organ and maintaining the high standard of its music until his retirement in 1981. He made a great many radio broadcasts and was a frequent organist for the ‘Proms’ at London’s Royal Albert Hall. He was a Governor of the Royal National Coll for the Blind, a Freeman of the City of London, and also ARCM, FRCM, FRCO, FRSCM, FRSA, DMus (Lambeth), CBE 1967. He was knighted in 1982. An early biography by J Rennert was published in 1979. No.974.

Tunes and arrangements by Thalben-Ball, George Thomas

Tune Name