John Varley Roberts and the Victorian organ

John Varley Roberts remains one of the less well-remembered church organists of the Victorian and Edwardian periods.  And yet his influence, especially as a choir trainer, was both considerable and enduring at a time when organ and choral music in the Anglican Church was undergoing a significant transformation. This study - part of a bigger piece of work on Roberts - considers his attitude to the organ. The paper first looks at the three stages of his career: the early years, up to 1868, in Leeds and at college in York; 1868 to 1882, when he was at Halifax Parish Church; and 1882 to 1918, when at Magdalen College, Oxford he reinforced and capitalised on his reputation as a brilliant choir trainer, and influenced generations of musicians.  Then, secondly, the paper reviews and assesses his relationship with the organ as designer, composer, performer, and accompanist.

This article by David Baker originally appeared in the RCO Journal of 2017.


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