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Reginald Goss-Custard

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- Kingsway Hall, London, 1926 & 1927
- Alexandra Palace, London, 1927 & 1929
- 11th Church Christ Scientist, London, 1928
- Queens's Hall, London, 1930

It has been very difficult uncovering biographical information about Reginald Goss-Custard, so I've compiled the small snippets from Wikipedia into this small biography:

The brother of the organist Harry Goss-Custard, the first organist of the famed Liverpool Cathedral, he was largely self-taught. He held several organist positions in London, including twelve years at St Margaret's, Westminster from 1902 to 1914, and gave concerts at the Bishopsgate Institute.

Among his compositions were Chelsea Fayre, an elegy, an idyll, a March in F, a Fantasia in F and a Serenade in A for the organ. He also wrote organ arrangements including Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker and the overtures to Beethoven's Egmont , Bizet's Carmen, Hérolds Zampa, Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro and Suppé's Dichter und Bauer.

As previously mentioned it’s often quite difficult acquiring both biographical and historical information about these old organists, despite their often immense contemporary popularity. It’s as if many of these organists have deliberately been written out of history either due to change in taste or due to musical political reasons.

This is of course a much longer discussion, which I’ll address in a separate article, but the main thing to keep in mind for now is that the lack of historical information and context is not equivalent to lack of musical substance or contemporary importance.

Fortunately we can approach these elusive musicians indirectly by looking at the contemporary historical circumstances they worked and lived within.

The historical negligence is also prevalent with the case of Reginald Coss-Custard. On the contrary, his contemporary popularity becomes very clear when looking at his recorded output, his church music appointments and the vast influence of his compositions.

Right off the bat it’s worth mentioning that he was more or less self-taught, meaning that he quite possibly didn’t undergo formal musical training at a music academy or conservatory. Even though the musical milieu around the turn of the century was much more diverse and (for modern standards) much more chaotic, the music education systems via the music academies was more or less an imperative for classical musicians to go through to be accepted. But musicians like Reginald Goss-Custard could in fact still become a popular household name without a formal training.

Some sources sporadically scoured around the internet concurs this and points out that he indeed was a very respected much sought after concert organist both in the English circuit but also with concert tours in North America.


Last but not least he succeeded the eminent Edwin Henry Lemare's tenure at Saint Margaret’s Church in Westminster, London in 1902, which was (and still is) a church with a musical profile to the highest standards.

As mentioned in the biography for his brother Harry Goss-Custard, the brothers also recorded over 100 organ roll for the Welte-Philharmonie-Orgel in Freiburg in Germany - It sometimes gets a little murky which of the two brothers actually recorded which organ roll.

Some of these recordings were realised and recorded on the Britannic Organ situated in the The Museum of Music Automatons in Seewen in Schwitzerland, and I highly recommend listening to these recordings - they can be found on "The Britannic Organ"-series published by the record  label Oehms Classics.

A note on the recordings:

The recording of the pipe organ could only be (more or less) satisfactorily done after the implementations of the microphone from 1925, but there were nonetheless multiple attempts of capturing the sound of the organ before 1925 through the mechanically acoustic method, and Reginald Goss-Custard was involved in some of these attempts as early as the spring and summer of 1914.

After 1925 he recorded a substantial number of “regular” organ recordings for His Master's Voice in the two “concert hall”-locations in London, Kingsway Hall and Queen’s Hall which HMV usually employed when recording classical music. To my knowledge (please correct me, if I’m wrong) almost all of his recordings are presented here, but, alas, as with the historical biographical documentation, the discographies are scarce and incomplete, so I’m very interested in more detailed source material concerning Reginald Goss-Custard's recordings. If you have such a thing then pleaae reach out to me via mail here.

His recorded output aligns perfectly with the contemporary English recording organists in connection with repertoire and choice of instrument. This means a mixture of the continental “classic” organ repertoire of German and French origin coupled with organ music from the contemporary English concert hall repertoire, e. g. “popular” pieces either by the organists themselves or colleagues.

In the case with Reginald Goss-Custard this means that the repertoire ranges from Johann Sebastian Bach via Léon Boëllmanns Suite Gothique to an arrangement of “Londonderry Air” and several of his own works in a more “popular” tone.

His recordings must have been quite popular, and especially the record (HMV B 2375) with his own organ composition “Chelsea Fayre” on one side, and Steward Archer's arrangement of “Londonderry Air” on the other side, which turns up many places today among record collectors - personally I’ve got no less than 5 copies of the record in my collection.

Some of the records were, however, very difficult to establish a recording date with. I sometimes had to extrapolate the approximate recording date by referring to other records where the production numbers are close to the record in question.

So I ask for your help; if you have any corrections or supplement information, please let me know. You can send me a mail here.

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