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Cyril Stanley Christopher (Composer)

Born: June 23, 1897 - Oldbury, Worcestershire, England
Died: March 31, 1979 - Sutton Coldfield, England

The English organist and composer; Cyril Stanley Christopher, began piano lessons at an early age and his father, an organist and Choirmaster, and mother would supervise his practice. His first composition was published when he was thirteen and at sixteen he received his first organ appointment in open competition. At that time he had never had an organ lesson though he had already played for two full-scale performances of Haydn’s ‘The Creation’. He was a private pupil for the organ of C.W. Perkins (organist of Carrs Lane and the City), Dr Alfred Hollins (the blind organist of Edinburgh) and George Dorrington Cunningham, and for composition of Professor Charles Herbert Kitson and Sir Edward C. Bairstow of York Minster. He also studied with Ambrose Coviello. Among the diplomas and degrees he took are the ARCM (= Associate of Royal Academy of Music) and LRAM (= Licentiate of Royal Academy of Music) (1925), ARCO (1928), FRCO (= Fellowship Diploma of Royal College of Organists) with the “Turpin” Prize (1929), Bachelor of Music from Durham University (1935) and Doctor of Music from Dunelm College (1940).

In 1927 Cyril Stanley Christopher was offered, through Dr Alfred Hollins, who had been touring America, an organ appointment at St John, New Brunswick. The offer was renewed in 1930 and declined on both occasions. He was conductor of the Dudley Madrigal Society (1921-1926) and other Choirs; Chorus Master of the BBC Midland Region (1927-1930); organist and Choirmaster of Wretham Road New Church; organist for the BBC’s Bach Cantatas; organist and Choirmaster at Carrs Lane Church Birmingham from 1930 for 37 years following Graham Godfrey who went to Canada; conductor of the Oldbury and District Male Choir, and conductor of the Oratorio Choir of the Free Churches of Dudley from 1942.

Cyril Stanley Christopher was Music Master at King Edwards Five Ways (King Edward's Grammer School) (1944-1945) where he gave eight piano recitals in 1944. The following year the Five Ways Music Club was founded; the Vice-Presidents included Dr Christopher, Paul Beard, Christopher Edmunds and Victor Hely-Hutchinson. The First Annual (music) Festival toolplace in the School Hall, Five ways, in April 1945. He was an extra-mural lecturer at Birmingham University and, from 1947, lecturer for the Birmingham Board of Adult Education. He gave organ recitals periodically and appeared as solo organist at orchestral concerts and with the Birmingham Bach Society (later Club) which had been founded in 1920 by Mrs Minadieu, with the City of Birmingham Choir, etc. In 1950, he adjudicated at the Bournville Works Musical Festival. He was appointed teacher of Theory (harmony, counterpoint, etc.) at the Birmingham School of Music in 1956. He held the title FBSM (= Fellow of the Birmingham School of Music).

His considerable output of compositions, some of which were broadcast in the country, Holland, South Africa, USA and Canada, includes Church music, choral and orchestral works and he wrote for various periodicals. A member of Carrs Lane Church congregation recalled that he used to put a ‘hanky’ on his seat so he could “slide up and down better”.

He was married with Maried Mabel Senior.Having been selected from over 30 applicants, she was Principal Soprano at Carrs Lane Church for 26 years. The Church Journal of January 1968 recorded that “in addition to being a fine soloist, she was a splendid leader. Dr Christopher died in Sutton Coldfield on March 31, 1979. His name is in The Musicians Book of Remembrance in the Musicians’ Chapel of the National Musicians’ Church, St Sepulchre-without-Newgate in London.


Variations on an Old English Tune, for string orchestra
2 short symphonic poems: Midsummer Night and The Lone Shore
Two Fantasy-Trio for clarinet, violin, and piano (the 1st: 1939)
Trio for oboe, bassoon, and piano (1954)
Sonata for oboe & piano (1956)
Serenade for wind instruments, cello, and double bass (1967)
Quartet for piano & strings
Sonata (in one movement) for violin & piano
Piano: Three Concert Preludes, Tone Stanzas, etc.
Organ: Sonata Brevis, Rhapsody on a Ground, Three Choral Improvisations, etc.

Hymn of Nature, for soloists, chorus & orchestra
Cantatas, Via Crucis, A New Heaven, for soloists, chorus & organ
Vocal Solo
Five Songs, etc.
Many Motets, Anthems & Part-Songs (mixed, female & male voices)

Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
International Who's Who in Music & Musicians' Directory (6th Edition, 1972)
Archives of the Birmingham Conservatoire (January 14, 2009; John D Smith Honorary Archivist)
Photo 01 kindly contributed by Birmingham Conservatoire Archive
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2011); Yvonne Moore (February 2013)

Cyril Stanley Christopher: Short Biography | Bach-inspired Piano Works: Works | Recordings | Other Arrangements/Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites



A short biography of the life, career and ancestry of Dr Cyril Stanley Christopher by Yvonne Moore BSc 2013© [PDF]

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