William Crotch


William Crotch

English composer. He was born in Greens Lane, Norwich, on the July 5th, 1775. His father was a master carpenter. The child was extraordinarily precocious, and when scarcely more than two years of age he played upon an organ of his parents construction something like the tune of God save the King. At the age of four he came to London and gave daily recitals on the organ in the rooms of a milliner in Piccadilly. The precocity of his musical intuition was almost equalled by a singularly early aptitude for drawing. In 1786 he went to Cambridge as assistant to Dr Randall the organist. His oratorio The Captivity of Judah was played at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, on. the June 4th, 1789. He was then only fourteen years of age. His intention of entering the church carried him to Oxford in 1788, but the superior attractions of a musical career acquired an increasing influence over him, and in 1790 he was appointed organist of Christ Church. At the early age of twenty-two he was appointed professor of music in the University of Oxford, and there in 1799 he took his degree of doctor in that art. In 1800 and the four following years he read lectures on music at Oxford. During his residence in Oxford, which lasted over seventeen years, he became friendly with the drawing master and musician J.B.Malchair. Crotch developed a drawing style similar to that of Malchair, and he also adopted the latter's habit of inscribing his drawings with the precise time when they were made.

View from Hurley Bottom  1806

This "View from Hurley Bottom" for example, was drawn at 5 p.m. on 30 August 1806. Shortly after moving to London towards the end of 1805, Crotch became acquainted with John Constable, who about this time began to inscribe his own drawings in a similar fashion. Next he was appointed lecturer on music to the Royal Institution, and subsequently, in 1822, principal of the London Royal Academy of Music. His last years were passed at Taunton in the house of his son, the Rev. W. R. Crotch, where he died suddenly on December 29th, 1847. He published a number of vocal and instrumental compositions, of which the best is his oratorio Palestine, produced in 1812. In 1831 appeared an 8vo volume containing the substance of his lectures on music, delivered at Oxford and in London. Previously, he had published three volumes of Specimens of Various Styles of Music. Among his didactic works is Elements of Musical Composition and ThoroughBass (London, 1812). The oratorio bearing the title The Captivity of Judah, and produced on the occasion of the installation of the Duke of Wellington as chancellor of the University of Oxford in 1834, is a totally different work from that which he wrote upon the same subject as a boy of fourteen. He arranged for the pianoforte a number of Handel's oratorios and operas, besides symphonies and quartetts of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The great expectations excited by his infant precocity were not fulfilled; for he manifested no extraordinary genius for musical composition. But he was an industrious student and a sound artist, and his name remains familiar in English musical history.

Lake and Mountains with Fisherman Lake and Mountains with Fisherman

VIIJ: Music In The British Isles After 1730