Basil Harwood (1859-1949) was born on 11 April 1859. He went up to Charterhouse in 1874 and left in 1876 having won an Exhibition to Trinity College, Oxford where he initially studied Classics and Modern History. He then studied for a further two years, 1881–1882, at the Leipzig Conservatory under Carl Reinecke and Salomon Jadassohn.
In 1883, he became organist of St. Barnabas Church, Pimlico completing his Sonata in C# Minor here in 1885. After this success, he then moved to Ely Cathedral in 1887 where he wrote the bulk of Dithyramb, possibly his greatest organ work. His final appointment was as organist at Christ Church, Oxford and as precentor of Keble College, Oxford from 1892 to 1909. He retired early at 50 (in 1909) but continued to compose prolifically. His organ works are very significant, and the "blackness" of his scores has sometimes had him referred to as the "English Reger".
He was a man who loved walking, was fastidiously proud of his beard, and who was loved by his choristers. His choirboys called him "Old Billy"... ;-)
"The Shepherds at the Manger", Op. 58, No. 8 comes from a collection, an "Album of Eight Pieces," published by Novello in 1935. It is the largest and last piece in the book.
The piece is extremely orchestral, and paints a unique and colorful picture of the shepherds making the journey to the Manger, and then returning home.
With January 6th being the Feast of the Three Kings, I had to really get moving to get the Shepherds in and out, and so, avoid a traffic jam. Fortunately, I think they've made it!
I really like this piece, and I wanted to get it just the way I thought Old Billy would like it...
The score is attached, and you'll need to scroll down to page 19.