Dr Francis Jackson CBE, DMus, FRCO, HonRCO (1917–2022)

Dr Francis Jackson CBE, DMus, FRCO, HonRCO (1917–2022)

It is with great sadness that the College has learned of the death of Dr Francis Jackson, a former President and long-serving Vice-President of the College.

Dr Jackson was born in Yorkshire in 1917. In 1929 he became a chorister at York Minster under Sir Edward Bairstow, from whom he also received tuition. He was awarded the Durham music degrees in 1937 and 1957. In 1937 he passed the Fellowship examination of this College, in the process gaining the newly founded Limpus Prize. After war service, Francis Jackson was appointed Bairstow’s assistant at York Minster, and was subsequently his successor in 1947. He retired from the Minster in 1982, and this was marked by two honours: The Order of St William of York, conferred by the Archbishop of York, and the honorary doctorate of the University of York. Francis Jackson was appointed OBE in 1978 and promoted to CBE in 2008. He was President of the Incorporated Association of Organists, 1961–1963, and of this College from 1972 to 1974.

As an organist Francis Jackson was at the forefront of British organ playing for many decades, and gave countless organ recitals throughout this country and across the world. He was a frequent broadcaster, and made many recordings of organ music and in conjunction with York Minster Choir. As a composer, Dr Jackson contributed a body of significant large- and small-scale organ works which have both reflected and informed musical fashion. There are six sonatas, a concerto, and many pieces which have become mainstays of the organist’s repertory, such as the Toccata, Chorale and Fugue of 1955. Francis Jackson also wrote extensively for the Church and his anthems and service settings, many of which were rapidly assimilated into service lists, show a perfect balance between imaginative word setting and exquisite handling of texture and form. Flair for the dramatic can be seen in his two captivating monodramas for speaker, chorus and organ, written in collaboration with John Stuart Anderson; the first of these, Daniel in Babylon, was written for the consecration of Coventry Cathedral in 1962.

In recognition of his outstanding contributions to organ playing, organ and choral composition, and choral conducting, the Medal of the Royal College of Organists was awarded to Dr Jackson in March 2012.

In 2017, on the occasion of Dr Jackson’s 100th birthday, the College assisted in the celebrations. A birthday lunch for RCO members was held at Bishopthorpe Palace, in the presence of, and by kind permission of, the then Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu. For this special milestone an album was put together to celebrate Dr Jackson’s connection to the College. Click here to download.

Remarkably, his was an unbroken membership record of a little over eighty-six years, from December 1935.

We send our condolences to Francis’s family, and express our sincere gratitude for all that Francis contributed to the College over so many years.

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Click here to read a personal tribute to Dr Jackson by Dr John Scott Whiteley, Organist Emeritus, York Minster

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