Black and white photograph of Franklin Taylor, 1890

Franklin Taylor (1843–1919)
Piano Professor, 1884–1915



A very great number of old Collegians mourn the loss of their beloved professor, Mr. Franklin Taylor, who died on March 19th at Tolland Bay, Isle of Wight. At the time of his retirement in 1916, Sir Hubert Parry, in his Director's Address, spoke feelingly of our farewell "to one of tile trustiest and most valuable of the old guard of the College," and looked back "with wondering pleasure" at the kindliness and amiability of the long record of Mr. Taylor's services and devotion to the institution that was for so many years the chief scene of his activities. Now that this marvellously inspiring life has ended, and our very last farewell has to be spoken these words come back to us with added significance.

Mr. Franklin Taylor was born at Birmingham on February 5th, 1843. He received his musical education at Leipzig Conservatoire, where amongst his fellow-students were: Arthur Sullivan, John Frances Barnett, and Edvard Grleg. A pupil for some years of Madame Clara Schumann he became, first as a public performer and afterwards as a teacher, a prominent exponent of her sound methods. He settled to London in 1862, and became a professor at the National Training School to 1876. Amongst his pupils at this time was Mr. Frederic Cliffe, now one of the senior professors at the College. Mr. Taylor was, of course, one of the original teaching staff of the Royal College from the opening in 1883, and one of the most prominent members of the Associated Board since its inception.

When he retired from the College a most remarkable series of tributes appeared in this Magazine: tributes of admiration and affection from a number of old pupils who had been privileged to come under the spell of his Influence. He was also the recipient of a sliver rose-bowl from past and present College students, the presentation being publicly made in the College by Mr. Landon Ronald in a touching speech. These events are so recent, and so fresh in all memories, that there Is little to add to them it this hour.

It may be interesting, however, to recall some of the special features and characteristics of his teaching, to which attention was drawn in the tributes alluded to above. One distinguished old student confessed himself amazed with the astounding "'spade-work' he put in with his ordinary pupils, those of average ability." Another declared that he always gave one the impression that teaching was his whole existence and the lesson that he was at the moment engaged upon the most important thing in Life. "His explanations were so incisive and convincing that one never doubted their rightness – that was perhaps half the secret of his great power." Again "he had such an incisive convincing way of expressing everything, leaving no room for half truths." "The sum total of his two lessons a week to all of us," said another pupil, "was that we began to have the rudiments of a real education." Not merely a musical education; "it was simply everything he taught us; he made us see that the same principles of good work, and sincerity and clear thinking, hold good through the whole of life, and that all we had heard and learnt, from every book and teacher and experience, must be focused on the business of the moment."

Obituary, RCM Magazine, 15/2 (1919), 29