Charles Villiers Stanford, composer and conductor, was born in Dublin in 1852. His father was John Stanford, a lawyer and examiner in the Court of Chancery and his mother was Mary, daughter of William Henn. Stanford showed an aptitude for music at an early age, composing his first piece of music aged eight and was encouraged by the amateur musical accomplishments of both his parents.He was educated at Bassett's school in Dublin and also at Queen's College, Cambridge where he studied classics. His father insisted he receive a general degree before concentrating on a professional life in music. His achievements in the musical life of the university were such that during the third year of his degree (1873) he was appointed organist of Trinity College and also became the conductor of the university choirs, combining them to form the Cambridge University Music Society. Having finished his degree in 1874, achieving a third in the University Tripos, he spent periods of time studying in Germany, initially with Carl H.C. Reinecke in Leipzig and later with Freidrich Kiel in Berlin until 1876. By 1875 he had produced his first piano pieces and his first symphony, which were all well received. He then went on to produce music in every form including symphonies, operas, chamber, concerto, piano and organ works, church music and choral works.
He was appointed as Professor of Composition at the Royal School of Music, London at its foundation in 1883 and began a long teaching career. In 1887 he was also appointed Professor of Music at Cambridge University, the same year that his Symphony no.3, (the "Irish"), earned him an international reputation. He held both posts jointly until 1923.
He was conductor and director of the English Bach Choir from 1885-1902 and the conductor of Leeds Philharmonic Society and Festival, 1901-1910.
He was knighted in 1902 and received honorary degrees from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (Mus. D.), Durham (D.C.L.) and Leeds (LL.D.). He married Jane Witton in 1878 and died in London on 29 March 1924.
Apart from the composition and arrangement of works which are listed in Frederick Hudson's catalogue of Stanford's work (1994, unpublished), Stanford published various written works : Studies and memories (1908); Musical composition : a short treatise for students (1911); Pages from an unwritten diary (1914); A history of music co-authored with Cecil Forsyth (1916); Interludes, records and reflections (1922).