Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Gadsby, Henry Robert

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GADSBY, HENRY ROBERT (1842–1907), musician, born at Hackney on 15 Dec. 1842, was son of William Gadsby. From 1849 to 1858 he was a chorister boy at St. Paul's at the same time as Sir John Stainer (Mus. Times, May 1901). He learnt rudimentary harmony under Mr. W. Bayley, the choirmaster, but was otherwise self-taught. In 1863 he became a teacher of the piano, the writer being one of his first pupils. Having also taught himself the organ, he became organist of St. Peter's, Brockley, holding this appointment till 1884. He succeeded John Hullah [q. v.] as professor of harmony at Queen's College, London, and Sir William Cusins [q. v. Suppl. I] as professor of pianoforte there. In 1880 he was appointed one of the original professors (of harmony) at the Guildhall School of Music, where he taught till his death. A member of the Philharmonic and other musical societies and fellow of the College of Organists, he was a well-known figure in the musical world. His published works include the following choral and orchestral cantatas: ‘Psalm 130’ (1862); ‘Alice Brand’ (1870); ‘The Lord of the Isles’ (Brighton Festival, 1879); ‘Columbus’ (male voices, 1881); ‘The Cyclops’ (male voices, 1883); music to ‘Alcestis’ (1876) and to Tasso's ‘Aminta’ (for Queen's College, 1898). Other instrumental works were a concert overture, ‘Andromeda’ (1873), an organ concerto in F, and a string quartet. Unpublished works include three other orchestral preludes, which have been performed: ‘The Golden Legend,’ ‘The Witches' Frolic,’ and ‘The Forest of Arden.’ Numerous part-songs, services, and anthems were printed, as well as ‘A Treatise on Harmony’ (1883) and ‘A Technical Method of Sight-singing’ (1897), which are useful text-books. Gadsby was a typical Victorian composer, whose works were always well received and never heard a second time. An earnest musician, whose mission in life was to teach others to be like himself, he died on 11 Nov. 1907 at 53 Clarendon Road, Putney, and was buried in Putney Vale cemetery. His widow died shortly after him, leaving two daughters.

[Grove's Dict. of Music; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Mus. Times, Dec. 1907 (a good obit. notice with portrait); Baker's Biog. Dict. Mus. 1900 (with portrait); personal knowledge.]

F. C.