Hiles, Henry (DNB12)

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HILES, HENRY (1828-1904), musical composer, born at Shrewsbury on 31 Dec. 1828, was youngest of six sons of James Hiles, a tradesman there. After studying as a boy under his brother John Hiles (1810-82), a musician of some repute and the author of several useful catechisms on musical subjects, Hiles left home to become in 1845 organist of the parish church, Bury, whence he removed to Bishop Wearmouth in 1847. But close study injured his health, and from 1852 to 1859 he travelled in Australia and elsewhere. On his return to London in 1859 he was organist of St. Michael's, Wood Street, for a few months and was then appointed organist and teacher of music to the Blind Asylum, and organist of St. Thomas, Old Trafford, Manchester. From Manchester he went to the parish church, Bowden, in 1861, and was at St. Paul's, Hulme, from 1863 to 1867. He graduated Mus.Bac. at Oxford in 1862 and Mus.Doc. in 1867.

In 1876 Hiles was appointed lecturer on harmony and composition at Owens College, Manchester, and in 1879 he was reappointed to Victoria University. Under the new charter of the Victoria University of 1891 he drew up a scheme for the establishment of a faculty of music, and was appointed permanent senior examiner and lecturer. He was also professor of harmony and counterpoint at the Royal Manchester College of Music, and took an active part in founding the Incorporated Society of Musicians. As a choral conductor he was much in request among societies at Manchester and neighbouring towns.

Hiles also made some reputation as a composer and writer of educational works. He gained the first prize for an organ composition at the College of Organists in 1864, and four others consecutively for anthems and organ music; he also won the prize for a serious glee, 'Hushed in Death,' 1878, offered by the Manchester Gentlemen's Glee Club, and in 1882 won the Meadowcroft prize. His musical compositions comprise : oratorio, 'The Patriarchs,' 1872; cantatas, 'The Ten Virgins,' 'The Crusaders,' 'Fayre Pastorel'; operetta, 'War in the Household,' 1885 ; concert overtures, 'Youth' and 'Harold,' 1893; fourteen anthems; services in G and F; sonata in G minor; two sets of six impromptus and other works for organ and pianoforte. His educational works are: 1. 'Harmony of Sounds,' three editions, 1871-2-9. 2. 'Grammar of Music,' 2 vols. 1879. 3. 'First Lessons in Singing.' 4. 'Part Writing or Modern Counterpoint,' 1884. 5. 'Harmony or Counterpoint ?' 1889. 6. 'Harmony, Choral or Contrapuntal,' 1894, Hiles acted as editor of the 'Wesley Tune Book' and the 'Quarterly Musical Review,' 1885-8.

He died at Worthing on 20 Oct. 1904. He was twice married: (1) to Fanny Lockyer, and (2) to Isabel Higham. Two sons and one daughter by the latter survived him.

A self-educated musician, who was never a cathedral chorister nor studied in any particular school, Hiles showed as a teacher and writer remarkable modern tendencies. He had little respect for the old contrapuntists or the mere philosophic 'theory' of harmony. His modern sympathies failed, however, to influence his own musical compositions, which as a rule contain clear-cut and beautiful melody, orthodox though rich harmony, and regular form. He essayed no work on a large scale, and was too old to be much influenced as a composer by modern orchestration.

[Musical Times, 1 July 1900 ; Grove's Dict. of Music; Brown and Stratton's Brit. Musical Biogr. ; private information.]

J. C. B.