Joseph Barnby

Joseph Barnby
Short Name: Joseph Barnby
Full Name: Barnby, Joseph, 1838-1896
Birth Year: 1838
Death Year: 1896

Barnby was a composer, conductor and (like his father Thomas Barnby) an organist. He entered the choir of York Minster at age seven, and was an organist and choirmaster at twelve. In 1854 he went to London and entered the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied under Cipriani Potter and Charles Lucas. In 1856, he competed for the first Mendelssohn Scholarship. When the examinations were over, of the nineteen applicants, he was tied for first place with Arthur Sullivan. After a second test, Sullivan won.

Barnby was organist at Mitcham, St. Michael’s, Queenhithe, and St. James’ the Less, Westminster, before he was appointed to St. Andrew’s, Wells Street, where he remained from 1863 to 1871, establishing the musical reputation of the services. From 1871 to 1886 he was organist of St. Anne’s, Soho, where he instituted the annual performances of Bach’s Passion Music according to St. John, with orchestral accompaniment. In 1867, Messrs. Novello, to whom he had been musical adviser since 1861, established Barnby’s Choir, which gave oratorio concerts from 1869 to 1872, when it was amalgamated with the choir formed and conducted by M. Gounod at the Royal Albert Hall, under the title of the Royal Albert Hall Choral Society (now the Royal Choral Society). The same publishing firm also gave daily concerts in the Albert Hall, 1874-75, which Barnby orchestrated.

Barnby conducted the St. Matthew Passion in Westminster Abbey in 1871. He was appointed precentor of Eton in 1875, a post he kept until 1892, when he succeeded Thomas Weist-Hill as principal of the Guildhall School of Music.

In 1878, Barnby married Edith Mary Silverthorne. Also that year, he helped found the London Musical Society, becoming its first director and conductor. Under his baton, the Society produced Dvorak’s Stabat Mater for the first time in England.

In 1884, Barnby conducted the first performance in England of Wagner’s Parsifal as a concert in the Albert Hall. From 1886-8 he conducted rehearsals and concerts of the Royal Academy of Music, of which he was a fellow.

Barnby was knighted in 1892, and in the same year conducted the Cardiff Festival. He conducted the festival again in 1895.

Barnby’s compositions include an oratorio (Rebekah, 1870), a psalm (The Lord Is King, Leeds Festival, 1893), an enormous number of services and anthems, part songs and vocal solo, trios, etc. He also wrote a series of Eton Songs, 246 hymn tunes (published in one volume in 1897), and edited five hymnals, the most important of which was The Hymnary (1872).

Biography courtesy of Thomas and Mary Barnby Hodges, © The Cyber Hymnal™ (

Wikipedia Biography

Sir Joseph Barnby (12 August 1838 – 28 January 1896) was an English musical composer and conductor.

Texts by Joseph Barnby (13)sort descendingAsInstances
Behold a Sower! from afarJoseph Barnby (Author)1
Draw nigh and take the Body of the Lord, And drink the holy blood for you outpouredJoseph Barnby (Author)27
For all the Saints, who from their labor restJoseph Barnby (Author)2
Lead us, O Father, in the paths of peaceJoseph Barnby (Author)1
Light of light, enlighten meJoseph Barnby (Author)1
Lord of the strong, when earth you trodJoseph Barnby (Author)1
My Master was a workerJoseph Barnby (Author)1
O God, whose love is over allJoseph Barnby (Author)1
O how shall I receive TheeSir Joseph Barnby (Author)1
O perfect Love, all human thought transcendingJoseph Barnby (Author)2
O Stranger, with no place to layJoseph Barnby (Author)1
Spirit of God, descend upon my heartJoseph Barnby (Author)1
There is a book who runs may readJoseph Barnby (Author)1

Data Sources

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