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Francis Jackson dead at 104

January 17, 2022
Francis Jackson
Francis Jackson

Francis Jackson, 104, organist, choirmaster, teacher, and composer, died January 10 in York, UK. He was born on October 2, 1917, in Malton, North Yorkshire. He began his career in church music in 1929 as a chorister at York Minster under Edward Bairstow. In 1933, he was named organist of St. Michael’s Church, Malton.

Jackson continued studies with Bairstow until 1940, when he was called to military duty. In his military service, Jackson served in North Africa through World War II. Returning to York, he was named assistant organist at York Minster under Bairstow. Later, he wrote a biography of his teacher and mentor, Blessed City: The Life and Works of Sir Edward C. Bairstow.

In 1946 upon Bairstow’s death, Jackson was appointed organist and choirmaster of York Minster, serving in this capacity until 1982, when he was named Organist Emeritus. In 1957, he earned a Doctor of Music degree from Durham University and over the course of his life was awarded several honorary degrees, as well. As a recitalist, he performed worldwide and made various recordings, both as organ soloist and with the York Minster choir. He recorded four CDs of his own organ music alone for the Priory label.

Jackson was a prolific composer, with more than 160 works for organ, choir, and other genres, including symphonic works. He also penned numerous anthems, canticles, liturgical music, and hymntunes. He served as president of the Royal College of Organists between 1972 and 1974 and was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1982 for services to music, followed by being named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2007. His autobiography was published in 2013, Music for a Long While. Additional information may be found in “A Celebration of Francis Jackson’s 100th Birthday: A Living Centenary at York Minster, October 4, 2017,” by Lorraine Brugh, in the December 2017 issue, p. 20.


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