Herbert Matheson

Another figure who is occasionally mentioned as a War Composer is Herbert Matheson. He was a songwriter (possibly for the theatre?) who appears to have been killed in action on 24th March 1918.

Unfortunately, as with many lesser-known names on the site, I have been unable to find enough about him to make a main site entry, but his Copac entries feature a number of published songs from the 1910s, mostly novelties with names such as “Maxi, take me in a taxi” and popular songs.

From this book, it appears that he may have changed his name from Herbert Matheson Goldstein and to confuse matters further, it appears he also published some works under the pseudonym Herbert Mackenzie.

Searching for that name we find a few more copyright entries for his songs in the British Library, as well as a mention in the Merchant Taylors’ School register, 1561-1934, Volume 1 of a pupil of that name. From this, it appears he was born on 12 September 1888 and attended that school from 1897 to 1900, after which he went up to the Guildhall School of Music.

He was born in Upper Clapham, London. He gained an ARCO (Associateship Diploma) of the Royal College of Organists and became organist of the church of St Swithin London Stone in 1906. So perhaps the pseudonyms were to separate the comic and sentimental-sounding songs from his role as an organist. The entry notes that he became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 18th London Regiment.

St Swithin London Stone, incidentally, was a Wren church which contained the apparently ancient London Stone in its walls. The church was itself destroyed during WWII and demolished in 1962.


One thought on “Herbert Matheson

  1. Herbert Matheson was my grandfather and, yes, you are right (a) that he changed his name from ‘Goldstein’ (by deed poll, German names being disliked during the war) and (b) that he published some works under the name McKenzie (before being killed on the Western Front). His wife Ethel survived him until the late 1960s and his daughter Barbara (my mother) until the 1970s.

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