Papers of Harold Rhodes

Scope and Content

Manuscript music compositions and sketches, published music, drafts of his unfinished book on Mozart, copies of published articles, photographs, recordings, programmes and some personal papers of Harold William Rhodes (1889-1956) which relate to his career as organist, composer, church musician and scholar.

Administrative / Biographical History

Harold William Rhodes entered the Royal College of Music in 1904 at the prodigious age of 14. He won an open scholarship for the organ in 1905 and one for composition in 1908, studying for the latter under Sir Charles Stanford. By 1908 Rhodes was assistant organist to Sir Walter Parratt at St George's Chapel, Windsor and in 1910 he became Music Master at Lancing College. Two years later he was appointed organist at St John's, Torquay and began his Doctor of Music degree through the University of London, corresponding for tuition with Norman Sprankling of Bristol. His career took him to the post of Organist and Director of Music at Coventry Cathedral in 1928 and then, in 1933, to the same position at Winchester Cathedral where he remained until his retirement in 1949. Dr Rhodes died on 27 March 1956 at his home in Sanderstead, Surrey.

As a composer, Rhodes achieved notable success during his own lifetime in publishing and broadcasts, the most noted of which was his Sonata for Cello and Pianoforte . He wrote solo songs, anthems and hymns, part songs, chamber music and solo keyboard music and also left a considerable corpus of material which remained incomplete at his death. This included very substantial drafts for a dramatic cantata entitled The Wild Swans and a virtually complete draft of a choral piece entitled The Ancient Mariner (which comprises more than 200 completely orchestrated pages of music for orchestra and double choir). His largest venture into any genre were his numerous song settings (most of which are incomplete) and they include settings of Browning, Shelley and Robert Bridges. Rhodes also wrote articles for newspapers and journals, particularly on the subject of church music. He was an admirer of the works of Mozart and undertook research for and produced drafts of a book entitled Essential Mozart . The book was never completed and after Rhodes's death, the material was worked on and ordered by his sister, Lilian E. Wallbank.

Reference: Stanley Sadie, The new Grove dictionary of music and musicians ( London : Macmillan, 1980 ).


The collection is arranged in three series: published music; manuscript music; and other papers.

Access Information

Open. Access to all registered researchers.

Acquisition Information

Rhodes's papers were presented in 1997 by his nephew and by his son and daughter-in-law.

Other Finding Aids

Please see online catalogue for further details.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of any material from the collection must be sought in advance in writing from the University Archivist, Special Collections. Identification of copyright holders of unpublished material is often difficult. Special Collections will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

University of Birmingham Information Services, Special Collections Department also holds a number of collections relating to other musicians and composers.