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Henry Balfour Gardiner

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Henry Balfour Gardiner (1877–1950) was an English musician, composer, and teacher. Between his conventional education at Charterhouse School and New College, Oxford, where he obtained only a pass degree, Gardiner was a piano student at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt am Main where he was taught by Knorr and Uzielli, who had been a pupil of Clara Schumann. He belonged to the Frankfurt Group, a circle of composers who studied at the Hoch Conservatory in the late 1890s. Gardiner taught music briefly at Winchester College (1907), collected English folk music (1905-1906), and composed. His works included compositions in a variety of genres, including two symphonies, but many of his scores are lost and only a very limited amount of his music survives.

His best-known work Evening Hymn (or Te lucis ante terminum) (1908) is a lush, romantic work for 8 part choir and organ, of dense harmonies. For most of the time, it sits in four parts, though the Treble, Alto, Tenor and Bass parts all sub-divide at various points during its duration. It is not explicitly eight part though, such as Charles Woods’ ‘Hail Gladdening Light’ arrangement from a similar time period. It is considered a classic of the English choral repertoire. It is still regularly performed as an anthem at evensong in Anglican churches.

The fame of this work has overshadowed his surviving orchestral works, which include Overture to a Comedy and the Delius-like A Berkshire Idyll.

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