Algernon Ashton (1859–1937)
Professor of piano, 1884–1910

Ashton had spent his childhood in Leipzig and studied piano and composition at the Conservatoire there, before becoming a pupil of Joachim Raff. He was a prolific composer, particularly of piano and chamber music (including 24 string quartets (lost) in all the major and minor keys).

(9th December, 1859 - 10th April, 1937)

Mr. Algernon Ashton, who died on l0th April of this year, at the age of 77, is affectionately remembered by the many friends that his fine qualities made for him and by the countless pupils who studied pianoforte with him during the twenty-five years of his teaching at College; prior to joining the Staff he had lived at Leipzig, where he studied under the giants of the musical education of his young days, notably Moscheles, Reinecke and Raff; but, though his compositions were very numerous, it was chiefly his chamber music that attracted attention in this country.

To a later generation his name is more familiar by his signature over some thousands of letters published in all parts of the world, and it is not too much to say that his readers were numbered in tens and hundreds of thousands. The explanation of this is to be found in his hobby, the collection of biographical inaccuracies; when talking with his friends he would almost bewilder them by his fiery outbursts of indignation over an incorrect date on a tombstone, and his letters of protest on the subject always seemed written at white heat, a challenge to the world by a champion of the memory of great men. But, as to recognition for himself and his music, it was a different matter, and I for one treasure a talk we had together on the composers of our time, and the abiding impression made upon me by his whole-hearted enthusiasm and generosity in speaking of his contemporaries, with no thought of self.


Obituary, RCM Magazine, (1937), 76-77


Obituary, MT, 78 (May 1937), 464
H. Truscott, ‘Algernon Ashton, 1859–1937’, MMR, lxxxix (1959), 142–61
P. Webb, ‘Algernon Ashton 1859–1937’, British Music, xiv (1992), 26–34