Posterity has not so much neglected Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (1852–1924) as derived malicious satisfaction from ostentatiously yawning in his face. Late Victorian and Edwardian Englishmen, in whose estimate he ranked with the greatest modern composers, would have thought such a development grotesque. Yet the astonishing fact remains: Paul J. Rodmell’s is the first detailed biography of Stanford, indeed—save for a chatty, somewhat anodyne, repeatedly inaccurate 1935 encomium—the first Stanford biography of any kind. (A second, from Oxford University Press, appeared in January 2003.) At least England has done Stanford belated homage. His native Ireland appears to have forgotten his very existence, although no one should underestimate the problems involved in selling an uncommunicative, virtuous, sardonic Protestant Anglophile to the Mary Robinson market.

Even in his own lifetime Stanford suffered from being...

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