Sir Charles Villiers Stanford (30 September 1852 – 29 March 1924) was an Irish composer, music teacher, and conductor. Born to a well-off and highly musical family in Dublin, Stanford was educated at the University of Cambridge before studying music in Leipzig and Berlin. While still an undergraduate, Stanford was appointed organist of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1882, aged 29, he was one of the founding professors of the Royal College of Music, where he taught composition for the rest of his life. From 1887 he was also Professor of Music at Cambridge. As a teacher, Stanford was sceptical about modernism, and based his instruction chiefly on classical principles as exemplified in the music of Brahms.
He composed a substantial number of concert works, including seven symphonies, but his best-remembered pieces are his choral works for church performance, chiefly composed in the Anglican tradition. He was a dedicated composer of opera, but none of his nine completed operas has endured in the general repertory. Some critics regarded Stanford, together with Hubert Parry and Alexander Mackenzie, as responsible for a renaissance in music from the British Isles.
His choral works, along with his organ works, to a somewhat lesser degree, remain highly significant in the music lists of countless cathedrals and churches.
The "Six Occasional Preludes, Op. 182" were published posthumously by Stainer & Bell in 1930. They show a deeply-Germanic influence, and have their roots there. It has been suggested they were most likely composed around 1921, when Stanford was on the lookout for royalties. They provided effective material for organists needing suitable voluntaries for ‘important’ services.
"At Eventide" is often judged harshly as "meandering" and "overstaying its welcome."
It is true that it is not of the quality of "Occasional," but it is still a warm and evocative work. More in the style of an improv, it presents a serene, evening setting.
Score & photo attached.