B0297. (BACH) Eva Mary & Sydney Grew. Bach. New York, Collier, 1966. 253pp. 4 Appendices (time line, catalogue of works, Personalia, and Bibliography).
“Sydney Grew was one link in that long and glorious chain of English organists which stretches unbroken from Tallis in the sixteenth century to the renowned ‘London school’ of the present day. Like so many adepts of the organ he set the music of Bach above that of every other composer, and indeed the last of his many books (written in collaboration with his wife) is entirely devoted to Bach and his works.
Grew was based at Birmingham University, where he worked closely with the composer Granville Bantock. Here is a typical anecdote describing the moment when the name ‘Bantock’ first impinged upon his consciousness: ‘I was in a Birmingham theatre. It was a lovely summer evening, and according to arrangements I should have been practising for three hours on the organ in the Large Lecture Theatre of the Midland Institute. But that night I was (with shame I confess it) disinclined for practice. Such disinclination comes once in a while, even to ambitious students of music, if never to students in other arts. Organ practice has to be booked to a rigid plan, many considerations having to be met; and when a pupil does not take his practice at the time allotted him, he has to lose the hours. Now the organ students of the Midland Institute in those early years had found that if, by inadvertence, the electric switch were clumsily manipulated, something went wrong with the blowing apparatus, and they were unable to practise; the fault not being theirs, they would be permitted to take the spell at some later time. Very curiously in my own case this breakdown in the wind supply never occurred but when I was in a lazy mood, and rarely failed to occur when I was in that mood. Coincidences of this kind make for belief in optimistic philosophy. This particular summer evening the organ had broken down ten minutes before the time for the rising of the theatre curtain on a play I felt it my duty to see, but had consented with myself to forgo. During an interval between the acts I read an evening paper, and there saw this announcement: 'Mr. Granville Bantock has been appointed Principal of the Midland Institute School of Music. He takes up his duties next September'.
‘Here was the first moment of contact between myself and a musician who, during more than twenty years, has in many ways most profoundly influenced my personal musicianship, as he has the musicianship of many hundreds of others’."