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Henry Brian Runnett (1935-1970) was born in Tyldesley, Lancashire in 1935. He was educated at the Liverpool Matthay School of Music, during which time he obtained the FRCO diploma with both Limpus and F J Read prizes in organ playing. His first organ post (at age 16) was at St. Stephen's Church, Hightown. From there he went to St. Andrew's, Litherland before moving in 1955 to Chester Cathedral as assistant organist. In 1958 he obtained the degree of BMus from Durham University. In 1960 he was appointed organ scholar at St John's College, Cambridge under the then Director of Music, George Guest.
Following Cambridge, in 1963 he was appointed Lecturer in Music and University Organist at Manchester University and in 1967 moved to Norwich Cathedral as Organist and Master of the Choristers. He was a part-time lecturer at the University of East Anglia.
Runnett was killed in a car crash in 1970 whilst returning from an organ recital he had given in Westminster Abbey. Composer Kenneth Leighton was commissioned by the Cathedral Organists' Association to write a memorial work for Runnett - his Second Evening Service (Magnificat and Nunc Dimmitis).
Norwich Cathedral has a Runnett Library in Runnett's memory, which contains all of his sheet music. It was donated to the cathedral by Runnett's parents following his death. St John's College, Cambridge also has a Brian Runnett Memorial organ competition, as well as trophies given out at the end of it..
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