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Stainer, Sir John

STAINER, SIR JOHN (1840-1901), English composer and organist, was born at Southwark on the 6th of June 1840. He was the second son of the schoolmaster of the parish school of St Thomas's, Southwark, who was enough of a musician to teach his son the organ and the art of reading music, in which he was already proficient when, in 1847, he entered the choir of St Paul's Cathedral. He remained there till 1856, and often took the organ in emergencies; he held the post of organist of St Benet's and St Paul's, Upper Thames Street, during the last year of his choristership; and in 1856 was given the appointment of organist to St Michael's College, Tenbury, where his musical and general education benefited greatly from the intercourse with Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley. He was appointed to Magdalen College, Oxford, in 1860, and became university organist in the following year. While at Oxford he did much to bring the choir of Magdalen to a remarkable state of excellence; he took a keen interest in the foundation of various musical societies; and as a sign of his appreciation of the value of general culture, it is worth recording that he took the degree of B.A. in 1864, that of Mus. D. in 1865, and procured M.A. in 1867, being appointed a university examiner in music in the same year. In 1868 he was engaged frequently as solo organist at the Crystal Palace; and in 1872 was appointed organist of St Paul's, where he raised the standard of choral music to something very like perfection. He was professor of the organ in the National Training School of Music from 1876, and in 1881 succeeded his lifelong friend Sullivan as principal. In 1878 he was a juror at the Paris Exhibition, and was created Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. In 1882 he became inspector of music in training colleges. In 1888 he retired from the organistship of St Paul's owing to failing eyesight, and was knighted. In 1889 he succeeded Ouseley as professor of music in the university of Oxford, holding the post till 1899. Besides these official distinctions he received a great number of honorary degrees: he was vice-president of the Royal College of Organists, and president of the Plain-song and Medieval Music Society, the London Gregorian Association, and the Musical Association. His compositions include four oratorios: Gideon (1865), The Daughter of Jairus (Worcester, 1878), St Mary Magdalen (Gloucester, 1887), Crucifixion (London, 1887^; forty-two anthems, some of them very elaborate; many hymn-tunes, organ pieces, madrigals, etc. His professorial lectures were of great value, and he made many contributions to the literature of music. He was a man of wide influence, with a remarkable faculty of organization, and his work in regard to the conditions of the musical profession was of considerable importance. His own music has many of the defects of his qualities, for his breadth of artistic views led him to admire and adopt many styles that are not always compatible with each other. He died while on a holiday at Verona on the 31st of March 1901.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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