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Harold Darke (Composer, Arranger)

Born: October 29, 1888 - London, England
Died: November 28, 1976 - Cambridge, England

The English composer and organist, Harold (Edwin) Darke, received his formal training at the Royal College of Music in London, where he studied composition with Charles Villiers Stanford and organ with Parratt, and at Oxford. He served as professor for organ at the Royal College of Music from 1919 to 1969.

Harold Darke had a world-wide reputation as one of the finest organists of his era. His first organist job was at Emmanuel Church, West Hampstead from 1906 to 1911. Subsequently he served as organist at St. James, Paddington. He became organist at St Michael's Cornhill (London) in 1916, and stayed there until 1966, leaving only briefly from 1941 to 1945 to deputise for Boris Ord as Director of Music at King's College, Cambridge during World War II. During his fifty years at St. Michael's, his weekly recitals, which included the entire organ works of Bach, made him a city institution. In 1919 he founded the Saint Michael's Singers and remained its conductor until 1966. In his choral festivals he presented not only established masterworks, but championed the music of little-known contemporary composers such as Ralph Vaughan Williams and Charles Hubert Parry. Darke's numerous compositions are mostly, but by no means exclusively, choral and organ works. They are generally serious and reflective in character. In 1966 he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire.

Harold Darke wrote sacred music, organ and piano pieces, and songs. His setting of In the Bleak Midwinter is still often sung at the service of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's College, Cambridge, and at similar services around the world. Most of his other compositions that are still performed are settings of the Anglican liturgy, especially his three Communion Services in E, F and A minor, and his Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in F.

Source: Stainer & Bell Website; Thorpe Website; Wikipedia Website; Baker’s Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (July 2007)

Harold Darke: Short Biography | Piano Transcriptions: Works | Recordings

Links to other Sites

Stainer & Bell: Harold Darke
Harold Darke - Choral Music (Thorpe)

Harold Darke (Wikipedia)


G. Beechley: "Harold Darke's Church Music." Musical Times (August 1988)

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