© National Portrait Gallery

August 12, 1838, York, England.

January 28, 1896, London, England.

Norwood Cemetery, London, England.


Barnby was a composer, conductor and (like his father Thom­as) 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 1863–71, establishing the musical reputation of the services. From 1871–86 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 1869–72, 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 1886–68 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 Hedg­es.

  1. Abba
  2. Adoro Te
  3. Alverstoke
  4. Barnby
  5. Birkdale
  6. Burleigh
  7. Carlton
  8. Cheshunt College
  9. Children’s Praise
  10. Chimney Rock
  11. Chiselhurst
  12. Cloisters
  13. Covenant
  14. Crossing the Bar
  15. Crucis Umbra
  16. Diadema
  17. Dunstan
  18. Emmaus
  19. Eton
  20. Eton College
  21. Flensburg
  22. Galilean
  23. Genoa
  24. Golden Chain
  25. Good Shepherd
  26. Holy Trinity
  27. Horeb
  28. Irae
  29. Isaiah
  30. Jordan
  31. Joseph
  32. Joy and Light
  33. Kennebunkport
  34. Last Sleep, The
  35. Litlington Tower
  36. Laudes Domini
  37. Longwood
  38. Mansfield
  39. Merrial
  40. Monsell
  41. Nightfall
  42. Nomen Tersanctum
  43. O Voice
  44. Perfect Love
  45. Power
  46. Roseate Hues
  47. Sarum
  48. Sheltering Wing
  49. Sinai
  50. Soho
  51. St. Anselm
  52. St. Andrew
  53. St. Boniface
  54. St. Fabian
  55. St. Hilda
  56. St. Ignatius
  57. St. Olave
  58. St. Saviour
  59. Stand Up
  60. Stanley
  61. Story of the Shepherd
  62. Sunset
  63. Swanland
  64. Via Pacis
  65. Victim Divine
  66. We March to Victory
  67. Winter Cold
  68. Winterton
  69. Woodleigh