Thomas Roseingrave

(1688? - 1766)

English organist and composer. Born in Winchester in 1691, where his father Daniel Roseingrave was organist before being appointed to St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, in 1698. Thomas was so promising a musician that the Dean and Chapter of St. Patrick's gave him a grant to study in Italy in 1709, where he became a friend of Domenico Scarlatti. After settling in London in 1717, he popularized Scarlatti's music in England and later made a famous edition (1739) of 42 of his sonatas. He was first organist of St George's, Hanover Square, from 1725 through his retirement in 1737, and had an outstanding reputation as player and teacher, especially until the late 1730s. However, Roseingrave's virtuoso playing drew mixed comments: Hawkins found it 'harsh and disgusting, manifesting great learning, but void of eloquence and variety' whilst Burney wrote that he 'had a power of seizing the parts and spirits of a score and executing the most difficult music at sight beyond any musician in Europe'.

Later, after an unhappy love affair that depressed him and 'render'd [him] incapable of playing the organ', the balance of his mind having been disturbed by his love for one of his female pupils (the girl's father forbade her from marrying a musician), he retired to Dublin. The Vestry of St. George's, however, continued to pay him half salary until his death in 1766.

As a composer, Roseingrave published both vocal (choral and solo) music and works for keyboard (harpsichord and organ). His First Set of 'Voluntaries and Fugues made on purpose for the Organ or Harpsichord....' are, according to the scholar Peter Williams, the earliest collection of English organ fugues ever printed; they are original works that feature chromaticism and irregular phrases. He also composed six Italian cantatas of considerable interest but uneven merit, anthems and songs, as well as other works for organ, harpsichord and flute.

A Partial Thomas Roseingrave Discography |  VIIJ: Music in Britain after 1730