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Distinguished Christ Church Musicians

Many distinguished musicians have been associated with the College over the past half millennium. Among them are the composer John Taverner (c.1490–1545), first Informator choristorum at Wolsey’s Cardinal College; Giles Farnaby (d. 1640), composer and virginal maker (many of his pieces are to be found in the so-called Fitzwilliam Virginal Book); Richard Dering (c.1580–1630), organist and composer; William Crotch (1775–1847), organist of Christ Church and Professor of Music; Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley (1825–1889), composer and Professor of Music; Sir John Stainer (1840–1901), musicologist and composer of The Crucifixion; Sir Adrian Boult (1889–1983), conductor; Philip Heseltine [known as Peter Warlock] (1894–1930), composer of the song cycle The Curlew; Sir William Walton (1902–83), composer of Façade, Belshazzar’s Feast, etc.; W.H. Auden (1907–73), poet and librettist, collaborator with Britten (e.g., GPO film unit projects), librettist of Britten’s Paul Bunyan and Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress; Donald Swann (1923–94), composer and pianist, most famous for songs, shows and revues with the lyricist Michael Flanders (also at Christ Church).

More recently, Christ Church graduates have gone on to excel in a range of musical professions. Conductors prominent in the field include Stefan Asbury, Harry Bicket, Lawrence Cummings and Anthony Negus. High-profile performers include our first woman organ scholar Elizabeth Burgess (piano/conducting), Victoria Davies (harp) and Jonathan Freeman-Attwood (trumpet & Principal, Royal Academy of Music). Many Christ Church organ scholars go on to distinguished careers in this field: these include Timothy Byram-Wigfield (St George’s Chapel Windsor), Clive Driskill-Smith (Christ Church Oxford) and Timothy Noon (Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral). Academics who have been, variously, undergraduates, graduates and Junior Research Fellows at Christ Church include Emma Dillon (University of Pennsylvania), Karen Henson (Columbia University), Peter Hill (University of Sheffield), Tim Jones (Deputy Principal, Royal Academy of Music) and Emanuele Senici (Rome University ‘La Sapienta’). Jonathan Finn, co-inventor of the Sibelius software, read Music here, as did the composer, broadcaster and national ‘Singing Czar’ Howard Goodall.

Every year, the majority of our Music students proceed to further study in music at top universities or the major European conservatories, while others enter a variety of musical professions, including teaching and arts administration.

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