Edward Woodall Naylor (1867-1934), choral scholar, later organist of Emmanuel College, also Honorary Fellow.


Edward Woodall Naylor, born in Scarborough 9 February 1867, came up to Emmanuel College as an undergraduate in 1884, in which year his father, John Naylor (1838–97), became organist of York Minster. He received his BA degree in classics and theology in 1887, after which he studied organ, viola and composition with, among others, Charles Villiers Stanford and Frederick Bridge at the Royal College of Music in London. He subsequently took his MusB (1891) and MA degrees and served as organist at the Lndon churches of St Michael’s, Chester Square (1889–96) and St Mary’s, Kilburn (1896–97). In 1898, he returned to Emmanuel College as its organist – a post he held for a time concurrently with an assistant mastership at the Leys School.

In 1897 he received his MusD on the basis of an approved composition, and in 1904 was appointed a College Lecturer in Music. In 1903 he married Susan Wharton: the couple lived in Bateman Street and had two sons – one of whom, Bernard, became a composer, organist and conductor of international repute. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of the College on 21 June 1920. In 1925, at the creation of the Faculty of Music, he was appointed a University Lecturer.

Edward was very active as a composer, notably of church music and opera – his Angelus won the Ricordi prize for an English opera and was produced at Covent Garden in 1909, later revived, subsequently toured in 1921 and broadcast in 1923; and his opera Merlin and the Glen was broadcast in 1934, a month after his death. He was active also as a scholar, delivering papers to the Royal Musical Association (founded 1874) on Heinrich Schütz and Jacob Handl, and publishing books. Later in his life he served as Curator of Music at the Fitzwilliam Museum.

His wife died in January 1934, and he himself on 7 May in the same year. The couple are buried together. Edward’s surviving manuscripts and papers are now in the College Library.

Character, publications

By all accounts, he was a highly accomplished keyboard musician, not only giving recitals at Emmanuel but also playing in King’s College Chapel in collaboration with Arthur Henry Mann (King’s organist and choirmaster 1876–1929). He was also a fair string player and could play several wind instruments. Later in life his sight failed him, and his activities became limited.

His published books include Shakespeare and Music, with Illustrations from the Music of the 16th and 17th Centuries (London: Dent, 1896 – republished in 2011), An Elizabethan Virginal Book (London: Dent, 1905), Poets and Music (London: Dent, 1928) and Alternative Hymn Tunes (co-author – republished in 2010). His manuscripts are preserved at Emmanuel College and in the Cambridge University Library.

Naylor grave
Naylor monument



Parish : St Mary the Great

See family grave page for more information





The New Grove Dictionary of Music (2001 – online)
Emmanuel College Magazine xxix (1933/34), pp. 2–7
Frank Stubbings, Forty-Nine Lives: An Anthology of Portraits of Emmanuel Men (1983)

By Amanda Goode, Archivist, Emmanuel College (with Ian Bent)

Edward Woodall Naylor