Born: February 9, 1875 - London, England
Died: May 30, 1947 - Ashford, Kent, England
The English organist, conductor, music educator, and composer, Sir Sydney (Hugh) Nicholson, was educated at Rugby, and New College, Oxford. He studied under Parratt, and Stanford at the Royal College of Music, and in Frankfurt am Main under Iwan Knorr.
Sydney Nicholson became acting organist of Carlisle Cathedral in 1904, served as organist of the Lower Chapel, Eton from 1904 to 1908, and was organist of Manchester Cathedral from 1908 to 1918 (or 1919). On the retirement of Sir Frederick Bridge as organist of Westminster Abbey, Nicholson was called to London in 1919 to succeed him. He arrived at a crucial moment in the Abbey's history: after the first world war it was not only the fabric of the foundation that was in need of repair, but also the traditions of the services. Nicholson devoted himself thoroughly to this task, raising the choral performances to a high level, and illustrating a remarkable skill in organising the music for the special functions held there. He also founded the Westminster Abbey Special Choir, and as chairman of the Church Music Society, he headed a campaign for the improvement of the general level of Anglican Church music throughout the country. In turn, this lead to the creation of the School of English Church Music (which became the Royal School of Church Music in 1945), for which he resigned his post at the Abbey in 1927 (or 1928).
For the following years, Sydney Nicholson devoted himself solely to the SECM lecturing throughout the country, and visiting affiliated members around the world. In 1938, he was knighted for his "services to church music".
Sydney Nicholson composed a comic opera The Mermaid (1928), an opera for boy's voices, The Children of the Chapel (1934), church music, and organ pieces. He published Church Music: A Practical Handbook (London, 1920), A Manual of English Church Music (with G. Gardner, London, 1934), and Quires and Places where they sing (London, 1932).