Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Clark, Frederick Scotson

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CLARK, FREDERICK SCOTSON (1840–1883), organist and composer, was born in London of Irish parents, 16 Nov. 1840. He received his first musical instruction from his mother, who had been a pupil of Mrs. Anderson and of Chopin. At the age of ten he played the violin, and two years later, when at school at Ewell, he used to play the organ at services in the parish church. After some little study of harmony at Paris, he returned to England, and at the age of fourteen was appointed organist of the Regent-Square Church. He next studied under Mr. E. J. Hopkins, and entered the Royal Academy of Music, where his masters were Sir W. Sterndale Bennett, Sir J. Goss, and others. In 1858 he was teaching at. the academy, and in the same year published a ‘Method for the Harmonium.’ During the next few years he filled the post of organist at various London churches, and in 1865 he founded the London Organ School, where especial attention was paid to organ-playing. Shortly afterwards he became organist, scholar, and exhibitioner of Exeter College, Oxford, where he took the degree of Mus. Bac. in 1807. In the same year he was appointed head-master of St. Michael’s grammar school, Brighton. In 1868 he was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Chichester, and in 1869 priest. During these years he was also curate of St. Michael’s, Lewes. In 1869 he left England, and went to Leipzig, where he studied under Reinecke, Richter, &c., for two terms, besides taking the duty of the English chapel. In 1870 he went to Stuttgart, where he was for some time assistant chaplain, and studied music under Lebert, Kriiger, and Pruckner. In 1873 he returned to London, but in the following year he was chaplain at Amsterdam. In 1875 he resumed his connection with the London Organ School. In 1878 he was the English official representative organist at the Paris Exhibition, where he was awarded a gold medal. In the following year he was for a time chaplain at Paris, but his connection with the or n school was resumed once more, and he died at that institution 5 July 1883. Clark was a voluminous writer of slight pieces for the organ, harmonium, and piano; his talents were considerable, but as a musician he lacked profundity, and his compositions courted popularity with the uneducated majority rather than the esteem of the educated few. He was a brilliant extempore player, and his memory was remarkable.

[Private sources; Crockford’s Clerical Directory for 1883; Musical Standard, xxv. 19; Musical Record for 1883; Times, 7 July 1883.]

W. B. S.