Henry Farrow Mudd - Pioneer Of Recorded Church Music

The following information was provided to us by Anthony Wilson, grand-nephew of the Fallen Henry Farrow Mudd, to whom we are very grateful.

The pioneer was the son of Joseph Robert Mudd, and was named after Joseph's fallen brother. (See Mudd H F).

It takes the form of a transcription of Henry's (Harry's) Times obituary and we reproduce it in full:

November 19, 2004

Harry Mudd
Founder of the UK's first independent label to specialise in church music

HARRY MUDD was perhaps destined to find a place in the recording industry, having built his own tape recorder in his twenties and made his mark as sound engineer for the Oxford University Dramatic Society's annual Shakespeare productions. Born in Stokesley N. Yorkshire, schooling at Saltburn-by-the-Sea in Yorkshire was followed by work in a fledgeling radio shop in Redcar. He transferred south with its owner and settled in Oxford in the late 1930s. He joined the Guild of Radio Service Engineers in 1947 and at the invitation of Oxford City Council was involved in the launch of the coaxial relay system for television, now known as cable TV.
His first commercial recordings were for the Audiovision label and included lectures given at the Duke of Edinburgh's first study conference in Oxford. Inevitably, though, his musical interests led him to the university colleges and their choirs. New College, with its choir master Sir David Lumsden, was the first to invite him to make recordings in its chapel.
The Abbey Recording Company was formed in 1962 by Mudd and Peter Myers, and released its first LP in December of that year. Abbey's Alpha label was the UK's first independent label to specialise in church music; the first recording was of Christmas carols from New College. The company's first catalogue was published in 1964. The two-LP set A World of Searching Eyes, on which boys from English preparatory schools, including several choir schools, recited poems and prose by their peers, was made in collaboration with Sir John Betjeman. It was followed by a sequel, The Searching Years, which won Gramophone magazine's Critics Award in 1968.

In his dual capacity as recording producer and sound engineer, Mudd made many early recordings with such luminaries as Stephen Cleobury, the Clerkes of Oxenford, James Galway, John Eliot Gardiner, Edward Higginbottom, Peter Hurford, the King's Singers, Benjamin Luxon and Gillian Weir. His dominant interest in church music and its traditions determined his company's direction and earned it worldwide recognition. Its continuing presence, through a burgeoning catalogue of fine recordings, documented the development of performing practice in a period when established choral traditions were variously challenged, renewed or maintained. He was appointed MBE in 1989 for his services to church music.
His brother Robert survives him.
Harry Mudd, MBE, sound engineer and producer, was born on September 27, 1918. He died on October 5, 2004, aged 86.


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