(b London, 7 Nov 1839; dSan Francisco, 9 Dec 1905). English violinist and composer, brother of Alfred Holmes. Until 1865 his career was identical with his brother’s. He then left Paris to start a career of his own, first in Scandinavia and then in London, where his Musical Evenings, a series of chamber music concerts begun in 1868, were highly popular. In 1883 he was appointed violin professor at the newly founded Royal College of Music, where his best-known pupils included Jessie Grimson, Emil Kreuz, William Henley, Camillo Ritter, Arnold Dolmetsch (briefly) and W.H. Squire. He was dismissed from his post ten years later on charges of improper behaviour towards his female pupils, and spent the rest of his life in San Francisco as a violin teacher, his most distinguished pupil being Kathleen Parlow. Little of his music has survived, although two sacred cantatas (one of which, Christmas Day, was performed at the Gloucester Festival in 1880), four symphonies, a violin concerto, two octets, a piano quintet, a violin duo and various pieces for violin and piano are known to have existed.
W.H. HUSK/ALBERT MELL
(d Salisbury, 30 Jan 1629). English cathedral musician and composer. On 18 December 1599 he was granted the income from the place of lay vicar formerly held by William Bath in Winchester Cathedral and the promise of the next lay vicar’s place that should fall vacant. This unusual procedure suggests that Holmes was appointed from the beginning in some special capacity, probably as organist or choirmaster. There is a note in the Batten Organbook (GB-Ob Tenbury 791) to the effect that Holmes was organist of Winchester, and afterwards of Salisbury, and that Adrian Batten (who carved his name in 1608 in Bishop Gardner’s chantry in Winchester Cathedral) was for some time Holmes’s ‘scholar’. In 1613 Holmes took two of his Winchester choristers to Salisbury to sing with the cathedral choir, which was being augmented during James I’s stay in the city. He was admitted lay vicar of Salisbury in 1621 on a year’s probation and at the same time he was made Master of the Choristers (but not organist). He held these appointments until his death. One of his three sons, Thomas, achieved some distinction as an organist and composer. Holmes taught both Adrian Batten and Edward Lowe, later organist of Christ Church and professor of music at Oxford. Several of his anthems ‘prickt from his own pricking in the year 1635’ by Batten (GB-Ob Tenbury 791) bear dates ranging from 1602 to 1610, and three are sub-headed ‘for the King’, suggesting that they were written for performance before James I either at Salisbury or Winchester. His church music is of considerable interest, fragmentary though it is, for most of it is in verse form, and as such it is some of the earliest music of the kind to come from the provinces. It is possible that a collection of 85 keyboard pieces (GB-Lbl Add.30485) may largely be in his hand (though none is by him), and the format of the collection indicates that the writer may have been a pupil of Byrd, nearly 40 of whose pieces are included; Weelkes has also been suggested as a possible compiler (see Brown, 1971, p.192).
all sacred music in GB-Ob Tenbury 791
Preces and Psalm lxxxix, responses, full (for trebles); First Evening Service (Mag, Nunc), also in DRc C13, Ob Tenbury 1442; Second Evening Service (Mag, Nunc) ‘in medio chori, for trebles’, also in Ob Tenbury 1442, Och
W.Shaw: The Succession of Organists of the Chapel Royal and the Cathedrals of England and Wales from c.1538 (Oxford, 1991)
PETER LE HURAY/JOHN MOREHEN
(b Penge, 1 April 1937; d Beckenham, 4 Sept 1984). English violinist. He studied with David Martin at the RAM, Enescu in Paris and Galamian in New York. He made his London début in 1951 with the RPO at an Ernest Read Children’s Concert, and won prizes in international competitions in Paris (1957) and Bucharest (1958). His North American début was at Carnegie Hall in 1966, with the Houston SO under Barbirolli. He toured extensively and made some fine recordings, including the Delius sonatas with Eric Fenby, solo sonatas by Bartók and Prokofiev, Beethoven and Hummel sonatas with Richard Burnett, and the Delius Violin Concerto with the RPO under Handley. His interest in 20th-century music (for which he was awarded the Arnold Bax Memorial Medal) embraced concertos by Barber, Bartók, Berg, Bennett, Britten, Delius, Schoenberg, Shostakovich and Walton. His performances as a soloist, soloist-director with the RPO and the London Mozart Players and leader of the Holmes Piano Trio, which he formed in 1972, were acclaimed for their technical mastery, warmth of tone and complete stylistic conviction. Holmes was also a fine viola player and made his début on that instrument in 1984 playing the Phantasy by Bax. He played a Stradivari violin dated 1736 on loan from the RAM, where he was a professor from 1964 until his death.
M.Campbell: ‘Ralph Holmes: a Profile’, The Strad, lxxxviii (1977–8), 681–91, 771–3
M.Campbell: Obituary, The Strad, xcv (1984–5), 477 only