Papers of Nicholas Gatty

Scope and Content

The collection contains i) unbound loose MS music scores and ii) bound MS music scores, consisting of the following: i) Venice Preserved: an opera in 3 acts (text from the 1682 play by the Restoration playwright and poet Thomas Otway (1652-1685); ii) Scena from 'Greysteel' for soprano solo, chorus and orchestra (1 vol.) n.d.; First Come, First Served: a comedy opera in three acts (text by Reginald Gatty) (3 vols.) n.d.; Gammer Gurton's Needle: an opera in two acts (a setting of the 1575 play by 'Mr. Masters of Arts') (2 vols.) c1940; Macbeth: a tragic opera in four acts (text from Shakespeare by Reginald Gatty) (2 vols.) June 1924.

Administrative / Biographical History

Nicholas Comyn Gatty (1874-1946) was born in the village of Bradfield near Sheffield, where his brothers Ivor and Rene (Reginald) also shared his interest in music. He read music at Downing, University of Cambridge (BA 1896 and DMus 1927) and at the Royal College of Music, London, where he studied under Stanford, and where he became a close friend of Ralph Vaughan Williams.

He was music critic/correspondent for several of the major London newspapers (including Pall Mall Gazette and The Times) and was also Assistant Editor of Grove's Dictionary. Early in his career he occupied the post of assistant conductor at Covent Garden, and was also organist to the Duke of York's Royal Military School in Chelsea.

As a composer he specialised in opera. His operatic works include Greysteel (1906), which was later revived at Sadler's Wells in 1938 for a revised two act version. His next opera Duke or Devil was premiered in Manchester in 1909 and was finally published in 1924. Prince Ferelon: or The Princess's Suitors: a musical extravaganza in one act (1919) won a Carnegie Award and subsequently appeared at the Old Vic in 1921. The Tempest (1920) was based on text written by his brother Rene Gatty and also appeared at the Old Vic (in 1922) and was published in 1933. Another opera King Alfred and the Cakes based on the text of Rene Gatty appeared at the Royal College of Music in 1930. Three other operas were also created, but were never published, being Macbeth (in four acts), and two lighter operas, Gammer Gurton's Needle and First Come, First Served.

He also wrote for other musical forms, including orchestral works and choral works such as a Concert Allegro for piano and orchestra (premiered at the Proms in 1901), Haslemere Suite for strings only (1928), Mass for four voices, and Ode on Time (1905). He also contributed two original tunes to The English Hymnal (ed. Vaughan Williams 1905) and harmonised other tunes in that volume. His solo songs, which achieved some popularity early in the twentieth century, include A-Maying, Fain Would I Change That Note, Relieving Guard, Evening and Touch Not The Nettle. Gatty's instrumental output, though not large, maintained and even enhanced his reputation. There were some piano solos, notably two sets of waltzes and other short instrumental solos such as a Bagatelle in D and a set of Variations, both for violin and piano. His Piano Trio of 1927 and the Variations and Fugue for string quartet, successfully premiered by the Spencer Dyke Quartet in 1926, are unpublished.

Access Information

Usual EUL arrangements apply.


Listed by Charlotte Berry, Archivist, 23 Jan 2004 and encoded into EAD 1 June 2004. Biographical information has been taken primarily from 'Yorkshire's operatic composer: Nicholas Gatty' by Philip L. Scowcroft, which is available at:

Other Finding Aids

Currently unlisted.

Conditions Governing Use

Usual EUL restrictions apply.

Custodial History

Given to the music subject librarian c2000 and subsequently transferred to Special Collections. Wrapper marked - Mrs. M.H. Gatty decd., original score 'Venice Preserved' by Nicholas Gatty - and stamped 'F. Arthur Jones & Co., solicitors, 32 The Strand, Exmouth'.

Related Material

Other papers of Gatty are held at the British Library: Add 57298, 56709, Music Misc. F890 and Eg.3304.