Algernon Bennet Langton Ashton was a very voluminous English composer, better known, however, by his favourite hobby of seeking out and keeping in repair the graves of distinguished persons, a hobby pursued at one time by means of frequent letters to the English newspapers.
His father, Charles Ashton, was a lay-clerk of Durham Cathedral, but in 1863 when the boy was four years of age, the family went to reside at Leipzig, and that is where he grew up. His mother gave him some musical instruction, which he craved early, and he attracted the attention of Ignaz Moscheles, who advised sending him to the Conservatorium. He entered the Conservatorium at the age of 15 and studied under Carl Reinecke, Ernst Friedrich Eduard Richter (Thomaskantor), Salomon Jadassohn, Benjamin Robert Papperitz and Theodor Coccius. On leaving the institution (in 1879) he obtained the Helbig prize for composition. After a visit to England he studied under Joachim Raff at Frankfort for nearly two years (1880-1881). He subsequently settled in London, and in 1885 was appointed pianoforte teacher at the Royal College of Music, a post which he retained till 1910. He died, hale and vigorous practically to the end, in 1937.
Algernon Ashtons compositions include symphonies, overtures, a suite, concertos (violin, pianoforte), sextet for strings, quintet for wind instruments, quartets, trios, sonatas, and other music for the pianoforte, organ music, many songs, etc. Most of the orchestral works remain in manuscript, but his published works of various kinds, reach, in opus numbers, to 174; this number is his last piano sonata. Some chamber music and sonatas were published by Hofbauer at Leipzig, where at one time his music had a certain vogue, which, with the exception of a set of English Dance - for piano duet, it has never attained in his own country. Certain of the chamber works have fine qualities, but they belong to a school influenced mainly by Johannes Brahms, the minor exponents of which are now beyond revival.