Florence Aylward

In 19th Century, 20th Century, Composers, Female composers by Vogler & Lindqvist8 Comments


Florence Aylward (1862 – 1950 in Sussex ) grew up in a big family „with many siblings and servants“ as the daughter of the vicar of Brede, Augustus Aylward. At the age of nine, she played the organ at her fathers‘ services and age fourteen she studied composition and piano at the Guildhall School of Music in London.
In 1881 she married the architect Harold Kinder and soon after had a son, Harold Frewen, who later sometimes wrote poems to her songs.

She didn‘t quit her musical life when she married, but continued to work as an organist in St Leonard‘s until 1946. In „The Magazine of Music“ she was hailed as „undoubtedly one of the finest accompanist of the day“ in 1893.

We found this composer following a lead from our listener clarinetist Marion Harrington, who wrote:
“The music in my family comes directly from the Aylward family…. She was noted for her ballads. The entire family was very musical – organists/music teachers/ players – and one ended up in the US as Director of Cincinnati Opera.”

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  1. Author

    Great! Thanks for sharing. The Aylwards seem to have quite a fan community!

  2. Florence Aylward was the 5th great granddaughter of Richard Aylward 1626-1669.
    Born in Winchester, he was a composer & organist at Winchester & Norwich cathedrals.
    He composed more than 20 Preces & Responses, many of which are still sung today.
    He also wrote many Anthems especially for the coronation of King Charles II.
    Richard also happens to be my 6th great granduncle.

  3. Author

    How cool is that! Thanks for sharing this great story. Was your granny a soprano? If so; you could scan a song out of the score, and we could sing it for you! Would love to see what it looks like.

  4. I was interested to find this page when I did a search for florence Aylward having come across a portrait photograph of her amongst my Grandmother’s papers. My Grandmother performed in a Dickens Revue “Hospital Blue” that Florence had composed the music for. The Revue showed at the Gaiety theatre, Hastings from November 17th – 22nd 1919. My Grandmother, beatrice Gildersleeve, performed the role of “Fiction”. I have quite a collection of the publicity material from the time and a music score, all of which my Grandmother must have kept for reasons of nostalgia. It’s great to be able to fill in a bit more of the picture of that week in 1919!

  5. Author

    Hi Marion and Ashley,
    Thank you so much for participating, I really appreciate it, and what a great story!

  6. Hello Ashley –

    Here is some more info on Theodore Edward Aylward Senior (1862-1921) and all that the family can find out for now. One of the Aylward has done an incredible amount of work and we can trace the family back to the 1300s.

    Most of us were/are musicians or creative in other ways -artists,compoers, organists, pianists, ´cellists…although I seem to be the only wind player – lol!

    Theo was an 18 year old scholar in the 1881 UK census living with his mother in St Pancras, London.

    He went to America with his brother, Charles, settled in Cincinnati , Ohio and became the manager of the Cincinnati Grand Opera House.

    On December 23, 1902 the apartment building he and his family lived in burned down. Oddly enough the Opera House burned down the prior year.

    In the 1910 US Census, Theodore was living in Newport , Kentucky just across the river from Cincinnati , Ohio . He married a woman named Catherine Burns and had four children Mildred (1894); Pauline (1900); Theodore, Jr. (1902) and, Louis Cornelius (1905).

    Theodore was manager of the Cincinatti Grand Opera House for ten years until his death in 1921.

    If the opera house has any more info, I’d be really interested to find out more.

    Bizarrely, my parents have ended up living in the US and a project I’m involved with – Classical Music Connects – should be coming over the US next summer. All this before we realised the American ties way back!

  7. Which Aylward family member was director of Cincinnati Opera? I’m the Communications Manager there, and we’re always interested to learn more about the company’s connections!

  8. I’m absolutely thrilled you chose to feature Florence Aylward – many thanks indeed 🙂

    The photos is an incredible bonus and for me amazing – she looks so like my grandmother (my mother’s mother) at a similar age, they could have been sisters!

    Even more interesting for me, my grandmother always accompanied me on the clarinet when I was young and I had piano lessons with her sister who was a teacher.

    Really appreciate you researching this composer- the rest of my family will be very interested as well.

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