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Laudate Dominum by Gordon Jacob

Autograph manuscript of Laudate Dominum


Dr Gordon Jacob, CBE (1895-1984)

Gordon Jacob was an English composer who studied at The Royal College of Music under Stanford, Parry, Howells, Boult and Vaughan Williams. He subsequently taught at the RCM and received a Fellowship in 1946 and an honorary Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music in 1947.


In 1943 he was awarded the Musicians' Company's John Clementi Collard Fellowship and in 1949 the Cobbett Medal for Chamber Music composition.

At a Court Meeting on 13th January 1953, a special musical commemoration of the impending Coronation of H.M. Queen Elizabeth II was discussed. A typed page had been prepared by the Master and was circulated to attendees that laid before the Court a number of options (see image right). There was apparently much discussion of the necessary finances and nature of the prize or commission to be awarded and it was eventually agreed that a sub-committee be established to discuss and report back at the next meeting.

The next meeting was in fact 28th April at which the sub-committee reported their decision to award a commission to Dr Gordon Jacob for the composition of a Choral and Orchestral work for which he would be paid £100. The typed report of the committee is shown right, as is the Court's response thereto. Click on each page for an expanded view.

Gordon Jacob had provided music for the Festival of Britain (1951) and had arranged the National Anthem with Fanfare for the 1953 Coronation. He was, in 1959, the subject of a BBC TV documentary and was awarded the CBE in 1968.

By the Court meeting of 19th January 1954, the piece (entitled Laudate Dominum) had been finished and a public performance was under discussion. Dr Herbert Howells was able to report that Liveryman, Sir Malcolm Sargent had agreed to perform the work at the Royal Choral Society's concert on 3rd March 1954, which he said would also be transmitted in the BBC's 3rd Programme (but, it was not - see below).

Two pages of meeting minutes are shown left that document this decision (click each one to expand its relevant area).

The RCS performance took place, with the eventual Publishers of the work (Joseph Williams Ltd of London) contributing £100 toward the cost of special rehearsals demanded by Sir Malcolm. It was held at The Royal Albert Hall alongside a performance of The Dream of Gerontius. The Programme produced to accompany that event is shown below - click on the image to scroll through, click on Go To Link to expand further.

Shown left are some pages from the Radio Times in June 1954, which presents details of a BBC transmission of Laudate Dominum from the Royal Albert Hall. However, it was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, not the LSO and RCS as in the first performance of the work on 3rd March.

The Radio Times reports that this was the "first broadcast performance" of the piece, so one must presume that the expected BBC coverage of the first performance in March did not take place (or was unsuitable for transmission).

Click on an image to enlarge and scroll through, click on Go to Link to expand further.

The Front Cover of the first proof of the published edition dated July 1953 is held by the Company and is shown right. The autograph manuscript score in Jacob's hand is also held and is shown below. Once again, click on an image to enlarge and scroll through the pages, click on Go to link to expand each page further.

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