Wallace Arthur Sabin is one of California's most talented organists and teachers of music, and in his chosen field of professional work his distinction is far more than local, his being secure status as one of the leading organists of the United States, and his being exceptional talent also as a composer of music of the best classical type. His work as a musician has touched all of California, but especially the cities of San Francisco and Berkeley, in the latter of which he maintains his home at 3142 Lewiston Avenue.
Mr. Sabin was born at Calworth, Northamptonshire, England, December 15, 1869, and is a son of James and Annie Eliza (Parsons) Sabin. In his native land Mr. Sabin received the advantages of Saint Andrew's College at Chardstock, Magdalen College School at Brackley, and Oxford University. He was graduated in the Royal College of Organist, London, England, as an associate, in 1888, and became a fellow of this institution in 1890.
In the period of 1882-86 Mr. Sabin was organist and music teacher at Magdalen College School, Brackley; in 1887-89 he was organist of Saint George's Church, Oxford; in 1889-93 he was organist of the Saints Mary and John Church, Oxford, and from 1886-1893 he was also assistant organist of Queen's College, Oxford. In 1893-94 he was organist and choirmaster of All Saints Church, Warwick, and in the latter year he came to California and assumed the position of organist and choirmaster of Saint Luke's Church Protestant Episcopal, in the City of California. This post he retained until 1906, and his service as organist of Temple Emanuel has continued since 1896, besides which he has been since 1906 the organist of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in San Francisco. For many years Mr. Sabin served as director of the Vested Choir Association of San Francisco and Vicinity, the Saturday Morning (Ladies') Orchestra, the Twentieth Century Music Club, and in these connections he has had charge of the presentation of such works as Handel "Alexander's Feast;" Bach's "Saint Matthew Passion," etc. He has directed with characteristic ability the chorus of the San Francisco Musical Club; he gave organ recitals at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition, Saint Louis, Missouri, in 1904; in 1915 he was official organist of the Panama-Pacific Exposition, San Francisco, besides having the position of director of the exposition chorus, which sang at the opening and closing of the exposition, besides giving several oratorios.
Mr. Sabin is an appreciative and valued member of the American Guild or Organists and has been its local examiner for many years. He was the first and is the present dean of the Northern California Chapter of this guild, is conductor of the Loring Club (male chorus), San Francisco; he has twice served as a member of the board of directors of the Bohemian Club of this city; and he was for two terms the president of the San Francisco Musicians Club. Mr. Sabin composed the music for the Bohemian Club's Forest Plays "Saint Patrick at Tara" (1909) and "Twilight of the Kings" (1918) besides having prepared scores for many of the smaller musical affairs given under the auspices of this representative club.
In the Masonic fraternity the basic affiliation of Mr. Sabin is with Berkeley Lodge No. 363, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and in the Scottish Rite Consistory at Oakland he has received the thirty-second degree. In San Francisco he is an active member of the Bohemian Club and the Sequoia Club; at Oakland he is a member of the Athenian-Nile Club, and at Berkeley he has membership in the Faculty Club of the University of California.
In San Francisco, on the 1st of April 1913, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Sabin to Miss Kathryn Wells Bader, daughter of Rev. Dr. William and Sophie Bader. Doctor Bader was well known in San Francisco as pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church, and is at the present time on the lecture platform. Phillips Bader, brother of Mrs. Sabin, was a talented cartoonist on San Francisco newspapers, and prior to the entrance of the United States into the World war he became a first lieutenant in the British Royal Flying Corps, from which he was later transferred to the aviation corps of the United States Expeditionary Forces in France, he having been killed through a faulty mechanism while he was engaged in demonstrating a Liberty motor. Mr. and Mrs. Sabin have one child, Patricia.
Mr. Sabin has had large and valuable contribution to the advancement of music and other cultural mediums in California, and is specially influential as a leader in musical affairs in the San Francisco Bay region, to which this publication is devoted.
Transcribed 8-12-04 Marilyn R. Pankey.
Source: "The San Francisco Bay Region" by Bailey Millard Vol. 3 page 410-412. Published by The American Historical Society, Inc. 1924.
© 2004 Marilyn R. Pankey
California Biography Project
San Francisco County
Golden Nugget Library