Arthur Carnall (1852-1904)

Arthur Carnall, Mus.B. (Cantab, 1878)  was a prolific composer of organ music and was the organist and choir master of St John the Evangelist Church in Penge High Street for thirty one years, from 1872 to 1903. He lived at 20 Avington Grove.

Neglected throughout the last century, possibly because he was considered a tame Victorian Romantic/Religious composer, his music is being rediscovered through the internet. Various cathedrals and churches all over the country are incorporating his music into their repertoires.  Imagine a sedate Victorian Andrew Lloyd-Webber and you get some idea of the charm and artistry. His lovely piece Melody was played by organist Marilyn Nicholson at the Penge Festival organ recital of 2015. You can hear Robert Cooper playing Melody on the esteemed Lewis organ on the Penge Congregational Church page.

Here is Paul Winter playing Carnall’s March in C on the organ at Hereford Cathedral:

Paul Winter has also played his Minuet in D in Rotterdam cathedral so the renewed interest in his work is international.

On Penge Heritage Walk 2,  held during the Penge Festival and on Penge Days, we stop outside Carnall’s house and listen to his music as it wafts from someone’s mobile phone. Little did Carnall know how far his Penge-composed music would reach and how it might be transmitted.

In many cases his sheet music can be downloaded free.

Arthur Carnall was born on 7 May, 1852, in Peterborough, Cambridgeshire, to John Carnall (1820-1860) and Rebecca Percival (1825-?). He became a chorister at Peterborough Cathedral. The family moved to Ely where he became a student of the esteemed Dr E. T. Chipp. He was educated at St John’s College, Cambridge,  where he gained his Bachelor of Music.

After various jobs as an organist, he moved to and settled in Penge, at that time in Kent, where he became organist and choir-master of St John the Evangelist Church. He was twenty-one when he took up his duties in Penge, a many-talented individual who had much to offer. In the 1901 census he was 48 years old. He ended his days in Avington Grove at the turn of the century and died on 3rd June, 1904.

See also:

St John’s College Cambridge, Chapel and Choir