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Nicholas Jackson (b1934)

Nicholas Jackson was born in London in 1934. His family assumed that he would become an architect, following in the footsteps of his grandfather Sir T.G. Jackson, who had designed many of the famous landmarks in Oxford, such as the Bridge of Sighs, during the late nineteenth Century. Accordingly, he was taken abroad to study architecture, and while a boy at Radley College won a competition with a design for a theatre. Despite having begun the piano at the late age of fourteen, upon leaving school he switched his attention to music and became Organ Scholar at Wadham College, Oxford, where he studied musical theory under Edmund Rubbra. His father was a good amateur violinist who, as well as being an authority on French history, loved French music. This enthusiasm was passed on to his son, and was to be a major influence in his future work as a composer. He also studied the harpsichord with George Malcolm and Gustav Leonhardt, the organ with C.H. Trevor, conducting with Sir Adrian Boult, and musical theory with John Gardner.

It may seem strange that Nicholas Jackson did not begin composing until he was over thirty, but by then he was able to incorporate into his writing the complicated techniques used in the French organ music that he performed, such as the reconstructed improvisations of Tournemire, which often require one hand to play on two keyboards simultaneously. His first published composition, Mass for a Saint’s Day, was recorded by the choir of Winchester Cathedral and continues to be sung all over the English-speaking world.




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