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.
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"... ;-)
I received this unknown piece from Dr. John Henderson, Librarian of the Royal School of Church Muisc.
Other than a possible performance by the composer himself, this is likely the first performance of this unique and colorful work. The piece was not published and is not dated. The edition was prepared by John Henderson, and for lovers of "obscure English pieces," it's a tremendous find.
The registrations are colorful, and there are elements of the traditional pastoral. In parts, the composer has called for "Shepherds' piping," and these phrases work very well on the bright, somewhat rustic Hill reeds of the Solo and Swell.
I won't go into further detail, but I hope this is of interest and beauty to the listener. It shows another side of Harwood, whom we often think of as writing huge, dense works.
I'm not able to share the score at this time, but I have attached two photos of Basil Harwood, and two pictures of the "Quire" of Ely Cathedral, where "Old Billy" once served as organist.