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Black and white picture of Hurlstone, c.1904/5The Royal College of Music’s first Professor of Composition, Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924), possessed a seemingly magnetic ability to attract budding composers to South Kensington. Over a period of almost forty years from the College’s opening in 1883 the list of his pupils included a majority of those who would dominate British musical life for the next generation. But it was probably during the 1890s that this phenomenon was at its peak: Ralph Vaughan Williams (b.1872), Gustav Holst (b.1874), Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (b.1875), John Ireland and Frank Bridge (b.1879), all studied at the RCM at this time, alongside another young composer whose name has since been largely forgotten. William Yeates Hurlstone (b.1876), whom Stanford considered to have been his best pupil, achieved outstanding success while still a student and seemed destined to become one of the foremost composers of his time. His untimely death from bronchial asthma at the age of 30, however, robbed English music of one of its great hopes for the future and undoubtedly contributed to the subsequent neglect of his music.

This website, devoted to Hurlstone’s life and music, grew out of a centenary ‘Hurlstone Day’ held at the RCM in November 2006. It includes a short biography, comprehensive work-list, and reproductions of documentary material – including concert programmes, letters, and other items held by the RCM Library and Centre for Performance History as well as recordings made by RCM staff and students as part of the Hurlstone Day. It is hoped that it will further interest in this significant, but still almost unknown, English composer.


This project would not have been possible without the assistance and dedication of a number of individuals and organizations, both in 2006 and in the subsequent production of the web resource. Thanks are due to the RCM Library and Centre for Performance History for the loan and reproduction of documents and images, all of the performers who took part in the 2006 Concert, the RCM Studios and Ben Connellan for producing the recording available as part of this resource, and Professor David Burnand and David Rees for their assistance in constructing the site.

Peter Horton






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This page last updated: 01 June 2010