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Mander Organs

Haydn Keeton


geigen

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I have spent the last few hours writing a very short piece, for a Journal, about the family history of Dr. Haydn Keeton, organist at Peterborough from 1870-1921, based upon records I discovered on the commercial genealogy websites.

 

Does anone know of a biography or source of further material about Keeton since Google searches failed to reveal one (for me at least) although there are various references to him in other publications.

 

The task I set out to do is finished, but I feel there must be something, somewhere.

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I think he was quite a hard taskmaster!

 

It's a long time since I read Charles Reid's biography of Malcolm Sargent (who was an articled pupil of Keeton at Peterborough) so some details may be approximate. I've still got the book somewhere - I'll see if I can dig it out.

 

if the pupil's playing was not up to scratch, Keeton would slide along the bench, simultaneously taking over the playing and removing the hapless pupil in one go.

 

There was also the story of Sargent turning up to a piano lesson and thought he'd surprise Keeton with some Debussy. To bring the young Sargent back to his senses, Keeton prescribed a shedload of Clementi Studies and muttered something to the effect of "if the rest of the world's gone wrong in the head I see no reason why I should".

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Another of Keeton's better- known pupils was Grantham-born G. T. Pattman, perhaps most famed nowadays for commissioning the H&H "travelling organ" in 1916, after holding a succession of posts which included Bridlington Priory and St. Mary's Cathedral Glasgow.

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Sir Thomas Armstrong was Keeton's Assistant at Peterborough; perhaps the Cathedral can supply more information. Sadly, Enid Bird's 20th Century English Cathedral Organists doesn't include details of him, only his successors.

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Note from Rowland Wateridge I have been asked to post:

 

My "Dictionary of Organs and Organists", 1921 edition, contains the following entry:

"KEETON, HAYDN, MUS D (OXON.), FRCO, Thorpe Road, Peterborough: Born 1847 at Mosborough. org. Datchet Ch., 1866-9; Aldin House, Slough, 1869-70; Peterborough Cath. since 1870. Cdr. Peterborough Choral Union and Orchestral Soc."

I recall Sir Malcolm Sargent relating on television many years ago Keeton's brushing aside of assistants and his reputation of being a severe disciplinarian of his choristers. But Sargent also spoke of him with affection and, as I recall, said that when conducting "Messiah" he always used Keeton's own autographed score.

I hope that some of this information might be of interest.

Yours sincerely

Rowland Wateridge

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It's a long time since I read Charles Reid's biography of Malcolm Sargent (who was an articled pupil of Keeton at Peterborough) so some details may be approximate. I've still got the book somewhere - I'll see if I can dig it out.

 

 

There are indeed many reminiscences of Keeton retailed in Reid's biography of Sargent, too many (some of them several pages long) to reproduce here.

 

He even gets a mention in Ralph Downes's book 'Baroque Tricks'. He remarked that he had his first 'real' organ lessons on the organ of St Werburgh's, Derby, presumably from Norman Hibbert whom Downes described as "one of Dr Keeton's famous Peterborough brood".

 

In post #3 David Drinkell said that he had "read somewhere (Bicknell The History of the English Organ, I think) that Keeton wanted Hope-Jones to build the new organ at Peterborough, but the donor specified Hill". That's true - it is in Bicknell's book. Also to be found there is an extract from a testimonial Keeton wrote concerning the 1896 Hope-Jones organ at Worcester cathedral:

 

"In my opinion this organ is, from the power, dignity, and smoothness of the reeds, the grandeur of the diaphones, the delicacy of the softer stops, the beautiful touch of both manuals and pedals, and its ingenious mechanism, the finest I have ever heard or played upon".

 

CEP

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You may already have found this, but here is the entry that appeared in James D. Brown & Stephen S. Stratton, British Musical Biography: a Dictionary of Musical Artists, Authors and Composers (Birmingham, 1897):

 

Keeton, Haydn, organist and composer, born at Mosborough, near Chesterfield, October 26, 1847. Received his musical training at St. George's Chapel Royal, Windsor. Graduated Mus. Bac, 1869; Mus. Doc, 1877, Oxford. Was appointed organist of Datchet Parish Church, 1867; and of Peterborough Cathedral, 1870. Sometime Examiner, College of Organists; Conductor and organist, Peterborough and Lincoln Cathedral Festivals; Conductor, Peterborough Choral Union, etc. He has composed an Orchestral Symphony; Give ear, Lord, unto my prayer (Meadowcroft Prize); I will alway give thanks, and other anthems; Church Services, Offertory Sentences (College of Organists' Prize); Pf pieces, songs &, etc. Author of Church and Cathedral Choristers' Singing Method, London, Cocks, 1892.

His father, EDWIN KEETON, has been organist of Eckington Parish Church since 1848, and has taken an active part in the Festivals of the Derby Archidiaconal Choral Association, etc

 

 

The following is from John E. West, Cathedral Organists Past and Present (New and enlarged edition, London 1921):

 

HAYDN KEETON, Mus.D., Oxon., 1877 F.R.C.O. 1870 1921

Born at Mosborough, Derbyshire, October 26, 1847. Chorister in St. George's Chapel, Windsor. Pupil of Sir George Elvey. Organist of Datchet Parish Church, 1867, and afterwards at Hawtrey's School at Slough, which he resigned on his appointment to Peterborough. Conductor of Peterborough Choral and Orchestral Societies. Conductor and Organist of Peterborough and Lincoln Festivals. Died May 27, 1921. Composer of Church Music, a Symphony for orchestra. Pianoforte pieces, Part-Songs, Songs, &c. Author of “Church and Cathedral Choristers’ Singing Method.” The year after Dr. Keeton was appointed Dean Saunders, with the idea of shortening the services during Holy Week, suggested that Single Chants should be sung, instead of Double Chants, for the Psalms! It is needless to add that the suggestion was not acted upon. On March 24, 1920. Dr. Keeton completed the fiftieth year of his Organistship at Peterborough. During this long period he had effected many improvements in the Cathedral Services there. The present four-manual Organ, by Messrs. W. Hill & Son, was built under his direction, and opened in 1894

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I read somewhere (Bicknell The History of the English Organ, I think) that Keeton wanted Hope-Jones to build the new organ at Peterborough, but the donor specified Hill.

 

It is possible that the cathedral authorities had reason to be glad that the donor did so.

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