Wolstenholme was born in Blackburn, Lancashire on 24 February 1865. He was blind from birth and was was educated at the Worcester College for the Blind Sons of Gentlemen. He showed considerable promise as a musician and impressed Henry Smart who agreed to take him as a pupil. Alas, Smart died before lessons began. He studied the violin under Edward Elgar. In 1887 he went up to Oxford University where he later graduated as a Bachelor of Music.
In 1888 he was appointed organist and choirmaster of St Paul’s Church, Blackburn and began to consolidate his position as a teacher, recitalist and improviser. Fourteen years later he accepted the post of organist at All Saint’s Church Norfolk Square, Paddington and afterwards at All Saints, St. John’s Wood. In 1908 he undertook a major concert tour of the United States. This secured his ‘international’ reputation. William Wolstenholme died in 1931.
Stylistically, he has been referred to as the ‘English Cesar Franck’ and although this may be unfair to both composers it is a reasonable rule of thumb and gives the listener a good idea of the kind and quality of music to expect. It is also possible that he can be bracketed with Alfred Hollins and Basil Harwood.
"Pastorale in D" was published by Paxton in 1900. This is yet another one of "those pieces" that I've been aware of for several years, but never did it, or tried and gave it up. In this case, it would be the later, as I "played at it," but didn't want to work out the difficulties. I'm glad that I did, as it is another true gem of a piece.
It starts with a "hunting call" which soon melts into the proper start of the piece. The melodies flow and bubble with such an effervescent joy, that it will surely cause much delight to the listener. Like all pastorales, there IS a "storm" here, but even the storm is gentle, and soon passes away!
The score is attached below (p. 12), as well as a photo of Wolstenholme, his family home, and two churches where he was organist.