John Ebeneezer West (Born: December 7, 1863, Hackney, London - Died: February 29, 1929, London) was an organist and founder of the North-East London Academy of Music.
West was taught at home by his father and received organ lessons from Frederick Bridge, organist at Westminster Abbey. From 1880-82, he studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was taught composition by his uncle, Ebenezer Prout, the respected authority on the fugues of Bach. He gained his Associateship from the Academy in 1898 and passed the Fellowship exam of the then College of Organists (it did not receive “Royal” status until 1893).
He held successive organ posts in London at St. Mary’s, Bourdon Street (1884-91); St. John of Jerusalem, South Hackney (1891-97); and St. Augustine’s, Queen’s Gate (1897-1902).
In 1884, on his twenty-first birthday, he entered the music publishing firm of Novello & Company in London as an associate editor. Following the death of Berthold Tours in 1897, West succeeded to the post of chief editor and adviser. He was following in illustrious footsteps; apart from Tours, the post had been occupied by Joseph Barnby and John Stainer. He remained with Novello’s for 45 years, of which 32 were spent as chief editor. He retired shortly before his death in 1929.
He was a prolific composer and editor with nearly 500 published pieces, and was a pioneer in the field of editing, especially choral and organ music from earlier centuries.
"Fantasy on two well-known Christmas Carols" was published by Novello in 1917, then transferred to The St. Cecilia Series (H. W.Gray). The carols are two of the most popular of the time: "The First Nowell", and "Good King Wenceslas".
West gives the tunes a clever and virtuoso treatment, bringing out a variety of textures and colors. For a few notes on registrations, please see FIRST COMMENT.
I'll be doing a few more recordings with this organ over the next few days. :-)
The score is attached below, as well as a photo of John West.