John Christopher Smith [Johann Christoph Schmidt]

(1712 - 1795)

English composer, born in Ansbach. He was the son of Johann Christoph Schmidt (John Christopher Smith) (d 1763), Handel's principal copyist and later his amanuensis. He had a few lessons from Handel and Pepusch but studied mostly with Thomas Roseingrave. His first opera was the Italian-style Ulysses (1733); later ones included two written for Garrick and based on Shakespeare - The Fairies (1755), after A Midsummer Night's Dream, and The Tempest (1756) - and a successful afterpiece, The Enchanter (1760). Several others remained unperformed. In 1759-68 he directed the annual performances of Messiah at the Foundling Hospital, where he was organist. Of his own oratorios, mostly written in the 1760s, Paradise Lost (1760) was the greatest success; three later ones were largely adaptations of Handel. Among his other works are five volumes of harpsichord music (1732-63) and a funeral service (1772) for the dowager Princess of Wales, who was his harpsichord pupil. He retired to Bath in the 1770s.

VIIJ: Music in Britain after 1730