1840-1878

February 12, 1840, Bristol, England.

January 3, 1878, Stoke Bishop (near Bristol), England.

Stone was educated at the Bristol city school (Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital). He displayed an enthusiasm for music in early life, studying under John David Corfe, organist of Bristol Cathedral, and, after a brief experience with commercial life at Messrs. Thomas’ Bristol soap works, made music his profession. In 1858, at age 18, he became organist of St. Paul’s Church, Clifton, and was successively organist at Arley Chapel (1862); Highbury Chapel (1863-69); St. Paul’s again (1869-75); Christ Church, Clifton (1875-78); and by mayoral appointment, of the mayor’s chapel (St. Mark, Bristol) (1873-78).

In 1863 he edited, with Fred Morgan, the Bristol Tune Book, with 342 hymn tunes and chants, a few written by himself. The book at once gained popular favor, chiefly among nonconformists. In a third edition, edited by Elliot Button, the number of tunes reached 900. Its sales exceeded 750,000 in England and the colonies. Possibly no other hymn-tune book except Hymns Ancient and Modern has had more influence on congregational singing. In 1863-4 Stone adopted the tonic sol-fa system for purposes of teaching, though he did not wholly abandon the old notation. His tutorial appointments included that of master of singing at Queen Elizabeth’s Hospital (1867-76), the Bristol Red Maids School (1867-78), and at the Blind Asylum (1876-78). He conducted the Bristol Orpheus Glee Society (founded in 1844) from 1876 till his death, and under his rule the society flourished. Stone organized and trained a male-voice choir in 1872 to compete at the national music meetings which started that year at the Crystal Palace. He won the prize that year, and honorable mention the next year. In 1873, he organized the first Bristol music festival. He was secretary, chose and trained the festival choir of 300 voices, and conducted the preliminary concerts and intermediate Festival Society concerts until his death. The chorus singing won high praise from critics, and the choir became a permanent institution.

For preparatory singing classes, Stone edited Progressive Exercises for Elementary and Advanced Mixed Choirs, which is still in use. He wrote a series of papers, Hints for Elementary Teaching, in which he strongly advocated the tonic sol-fa system. For a contemplated work on harmony (never completed) he wrote The Common Sense of the Minor Scale, which was published in the Tonic Sol-fa Reporter, August 1878. He adjudicated at the Welsh Eisteddfodau, and traveled in Germany with Mr. J. S. Curwen for the purposes of his profession. His last public appearance was at a festival concert, when he conducted Roeckel’s Ode in Memory of Titiens in November 1877.

  1. Trinity