Bayley, John

Bandmaster John Bayley, clarinetist, violinist and organist was born in Windsor, England about 1847, son of John Bayley (d 1871).

John Sr who was trained in Chelsea (London) at the Royal Military Asylum for boys, became a cornet soloist and conductor and took his family to Philadelphia about 1850, to San Francisco about 1857, and, in the excitement of the Fraser River gold rush, to Victoria, BC, in 1858.

While inspector of police there, the father conducted the Victoria Philharmonic Society in the first concerts given in that city. At the opening one 6 May 1859 the younger Bayley played a clarinet solo that was ‘enthusiastically encored’ (Victoria Gazette, 10 May 1859). He was also heard as a violinist. Bayley Sr returned to England in 1861, in part to provide his son with a musical education.

The boy studied violin with Leopold Jansa and harmony with Henry Wylde at the London Academy of Music. He was bandmaster of the 46th Regiment for seven years (part of the time possibly in Canada), then returned to Canada, living 1877-9 in Montreal and, as bandmaster 1879-1901 of the Queen’s Own Rifles, in Toronto. He was also second violin 1884-7 of the Toronto String Quartette and first violin of the 1894 TSQ, and formed a Citizens’ Band which performed for a season (1887) on Toronto’s Centre Island.

Bayley was described by Herbert L. Clarke (in his autobiography How I Became a Cornetist) as ‘a finished musician of high order; he was a remarkable organist… and one of the best clarinettists I have ever heard in my life’.

When Bayley resigned from the Queen’s Own Rifles he moved to Buffalo, NY. He died in 1910.

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