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.
"Prelude in G" was published by Paxton in 1908. On paper, it "looks" like the Mendelssohn G Major prelude, but this setting is more varied, more "expressive," and more difficult. I found it to a have a wonderful sense of line and phrase, although Wolstenholme doesn't "help out" much, as there are virtually NO markings!
To compare this with the Mendelssohn "Prelude in G":
The Hereford Willis handles this music nicely with it's "darker colors," and sounds like the Great Gamba can be achieved by using the Solo Gamba coupled to the Great.
The score is attached below (first piece in the collection), as well as a photo of Wolstenholme, his family home, and several of the churches at which he served as organist.