The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Sir Walter Parratt

Sir Walter Parratt

A cabinet card portrait of the English organist and composer Sir Walter Parratt (1841-1924).

Born in Huddersfield, son of a parish organist, Parratt began to play the organ from an early age, and held posts as an organist while still a child. He was a child prodigy: on one occasion he played Bach's complete The Well-Tempered Clavier by heart, without notice, at the age of only ten.

From 1854 to 1861 he was an organist at St Paul's Church in his native town and, as successor to John Stainer, in 1872 at Magdalen College, Oxford, where he remained for ten years. From 1882 he held the post of organist of St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. In 1908 he was appointed Heather Professor of Music at Oxford University, taking over from Hubert Parry.

He became one of the foremost organ teachers of his day, with many important posts in Britain being filled by his students. He was president of the Royal College of Organists.
Parratt was also a distinguished chess player and served for a few months as president of the Oxford University Chess Club; for two years he was captain of the eight chosen to play against Cambridge.

He was knighted in 1892. In 1893 he was appointed Master of the Queen's Music to Queen Victoria, and later held the same office under Edward VII and George V. Later honours included: Member (MVO, 1901), Commander (CVO, 1917), and Knight Commander (KCVO, 1921) of the Royal Victorian Order.

Sir Walter Parratt died on 27 March 1924. A monument to him was erected in the grounds of Huddersfield Parish Church. There is also a monument to him in St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle.

Photographed by W.H. Fry of Brighton.


Code: 125481
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© Paul Frecker 2018