Henry Evans Giles

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Henry Giles, 1886
Henry Evans Giles, son of Thomas D. and Hannah Evans Giles, was born March 26, 1859, in Salt Lake City, Utah. His father, despite the loss of his eyesight in an accident, was an accomplished harpist.

Young Henry received his schooling in Salt Lake City, and on June 29, 1879, he married Catherine E. Hughes. Their twelve children are Henry E., Jr.; Thomas, who created the School of Music at the University of Utah; John D.; Catherine G. Engberg; Parley M.; Hannah, who died as an infant; Mirl G. Chalker; Elva C., who died when she was ten years old; Ida G. Sharp; Jenalyn G. Cline; Clarence L.; and Margaret G. Scharman. His wife passed away April 24th, 1935, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

In 1885, he moved to Provo to head the Music Department at Brigham Young Academy and to preside at the organ in the Provo Tabernacle. Giles taught at BY Academy until 1896. During that time he started a glee club for the students to perform in music festivals, religious gatherings, and BY Academy graduations. Giles was also the band and choir director at BY Academy after 1892. He subsequently was appointed as Utah Stake chorister and Provo Tabernacle Choir conductor.

Henry Giles conducted the choir in singing "Let All Nations Bow Before Thee" at the dedication of the new High School building for Brigham Young Academy on January 4th, 1892. Presiding over the dedication was LDS Church President Wilford W. Woodruff.

At the dedicatory services for the Salt Lake Temple on April 14, 1893, his choir provided music, along with an evening concert. In 1896, he also served as music supervisor for Provo public schools.

In 1899 the former principal of BY Academy, Benjamin Cluff, organized an expedition to search for the city of Zarahemla. Henry Evans Giles was a part of the company for four months, after which the majority of the group honorably disbanded due to the danger of losing their equipment and their lives if they continued into Latin America.

Giles served as assistant Tabernacle organist to John H. McClellan from 1901-1908. In 1904 he lived in Malad Valley, Idaho, where he was appointed as Malad Stake chorister for five years. He also ran a music store in Malad Valley, selling organs at low prices to help the area enjoy church music. Upon his return to Salt Lake City in 1909, Giles was appointed as Ensign Stake organist and Eighteenth Ward organist. Henry Giles was also a noteworthy composer of hymns and oratorios. After 1911 he was engaged as manager of the Giles Engraving Company.

On January 17, 1938, Henry Giles died in Salt Lake City. His life was characterized by his dedication to the advancement of music and culture and love for his family.

At the dedication of the Harris Fine Arts Center in 1964, room E-400 was named the Henry E. Giles Museum of Musical Instruments in his honor. This room was a performance area for chamber music and for housing a valuable collection of ancient instruments. The musical instruments have since been moved to the Harold B. Lee Library and the room continues to be used as a music classroom in his name.


  • FindAGrave - Henry Evans Giles (12 Jun 2008)
  • Ernest L. Wilkinson, ed. Brigham Young University: The First One Hundred Years, Vol 1, (Provo: Brigham Young University Press, 1975).
  • Special Program for Naming of Areas, Franklin S. Harris Fine Arts Center. Tuesday, November 23, 1965. Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, 84602.
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