Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (30 September 1852 – 29 March 1924) was an Irish composer, teacher and conductor. Born to a well-off and highly musical family in Dublin, Stanford was educated at the University of Cambridge before studying music in Leipzig and Berlin. While still an undergraduate, Stanford was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1882, aged 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also the professor of music at Cambridge. As a teacher, Stanford was sceptical about modernism, and based his instruction chiefly on classical principles as exemplified in the music of Brahms. Among his pupils were rising composers whose fame went on to surpass his own, such as Gustav Holst and Ralph Vaughan Williams. Stanford composed a substantial number of concert works, including seven symphonies, but his best-remembered pieces are his choral works for church performance, chiefly composed in the Anglican tradition. Some critics regarded Stanford, together with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, as responsible for a renaissance in English music. However, after his conspicuous success as a composer in the last two decades of the 19th century, his music was eclipsed by that of Edward Elgar as well as former pupils.
The "Six Short Preludes and Postludes, 2nd Set" were published by Stainer & Bell in 1908. The title is deceiving, as these are brief, but fully mature and often challenging pieces. The three pieces that I've uploaded are all based upon themes of Orlando Gibbons (1583-1625), and in them Stanford pays homage to this great musician, as well as his own uncompromising classical style.
The postlude based on "Song 24" is a brilliant toccata, owing FAR more to Bach and Rheinberger than to the English "cathedral style."
Each piece is preceded by the theme, and the score, as well as photos of Stanford and Gibbons are included below.