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Balfe, Michael William, 1808 - 1870


Barnett, John, 1802-1890

John Barnett, a  distant relative of  Meyerbeer,  had been a child actor who then moved on to a varied career in the theatre. He composed music for a number of plays and comic pieces, an oratorio and songs before  finding success with his first opera, The Mountain Sylph, in 1834, which Macfarren, writing in 1863, claimed "opened a new period for music in this country, from which is to be dated the establishment of an English dramatic school"[1].It was followed by Fair Rosamond (1837) and Farinelli (1838), neither of which managed anything like the same success, as well as two lighter works, Blanche of Jersey and The Little Laundress, both in 1837. He wrote at least two more operas, Kathleen (1840) [2] and Queen Mab (1841), but neither of them was performed. Unfortunately, he did not help his own cause by quarrelling with many of the people in London, such as Arnold and Bunn, who were in a position to help him.

 Barnett - wikipedia

Perhaps these problems led him to try to launch an English opera house at the Prince's Theatre (the renamed St. James's) in 1840, but it quickly folded. Disenchantment with London may have led him, in 1841, to move to Cheltenham where he became a successful singing teacher as well as continuing to compose songs and instrumental works. He wrote a book on his methods, School for the Voice (1844).  Barnett's daughter, Clara Kathleen Rogers, a singer, published two memoirs: Memories of a musical career (Plimpton Press, 1932) and The story of Two Lives (Plimpton Press, 1932), which include many references to John Barnett. His son, Eugene, wrote the music for a number of songs and comic works. A contemporary view of Barnett can be found at Actors by Daylight. Vol. 1 (London: J. Pattie, 1838-1839),  pp. 292 - 293.

[1] George A. Macfarren, "Barnett, John", in ed. John F. Waller, Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 1. London: William Mackenzie, 1863, p.389. 

[2] The autograph score of Kathleen can be found at IMSLP.


á Beckett, Mary Ann (née Glossop) 1815 - 1863


Benedict, Julius, 1804 - 1885


De Pinna, Joseph, 1799(?) - 1885


Forbes, Henry 1804 - 1859
Henry Forbes was an organist, composer and conductor of Societé Armonica from 1827 - 1850. The latter started as an amateur band which then graduated to employing professionals and hosting public concerts at a cheaper rate than the Philharmonic, although with a lower orchestral standard, according to The Spectator (March 13, 1835).    Forbes wrote mainly smaller scale works, such as songs and psalm tunes but did create an opera, The Fairy Oak, and an oratorio, Ruth.


Glover, William Howard ,  1819-1875


Goring Thomas, Arthur, 1850-1892
Arthur Goring Thomas was born in Sussex into a wealthy household and showed an early aptitude for music, which he went on to study in Paris and London. He wrote five operas, the best known being Esmeralda and Nadeshda, both successful and both also performed on the continent. The Golden Web was premiered after his suicide in 1892. Goring Thomas was particularly praised for his melodic gifts and his lightness of touch, no doubt a legacy of his French training.


Hullah, John Pyke, 1812-1884
John Hullah studied at the RAM and initially composed songs and operas:- The Village Coquettes, The Barbers of Bassora and The Outpost. However, he soon turned to musical education eventually becoming Professor of Vocal Music at King's College, London and a government music inspector. He is best known for his advocacy and practice of G.L.B. Wilhem's method of teaching music using what was known as the fixed "solfa" or fixed "doh", see Bernarr Rainbow, The Land without Music. (London: Novello and Co., 1967) pp.124-138. His wife, Frances, wrote a biography based on notes he had made, Life of John Hullah (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1886).


Jessup, Mildred Marion Bowes-Lyon 1868 - 1897


Laurent, Henri


Lavenu, Lewis Henry, 1818-1859


Linley, George, 1798 - 1865


Loder, Edward James, 1809-1865


Macfarren, George Alexander, 1813 - 1887


Packer, Charles Sandys, 1810-1883
Packer was born in Reading and studied at the RAM, later becoming a teacher there during which time he wrote Sadak and Kalasrade. However, a few years after that, in 1839, his career took a novel turn when he was transported to Australia for forgery but he was able to set up as a music teacher in Hobart, even though still serving his sentence.  Following a conditional pardon, he branched out into theatre management [1]. Eventually, he set himself up as a professor of music in Sydney but does not seem to have composed any further operas, although he did write an oratorio The Crown of Thorns, the score of which can be found here on IMSLP. His career took a further stumble when he was imprisoned for five years for bigamy. On release, he again took up teaching and composition. He died in Australia in 1883[2]. More information can be found in Graeme Skinner's dissertation on music in colonial Australia [3] and his website

[1] Maree-rose Jones, "Musical Activities at the Royal Victoria Theatre, Hobart", Tasmanian Historical Research Association, No. 54, Vol. 3, December 2007, in particular pp.149-151.

[2] E. J. Lea-Scarlett, "Packer, Charles Sandys (Stuart Shipley) (1810 - 1883)", Australian Dictionary of Biography, ( National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, 1974)

[3] Graeme Skinner, Towards a general theory of Australian Musical composition. (University of Sydney: PhD thesis, 2011) , p.284-291.


Rodwell, George Herbert Bonaparte, 1800 - 1852

Rodwell was born in London and was a pupil of Henry Bishop and Vincent Novello. He wrote both books and stage works as well as composing. At various points he took over managing the Adelphi theatre, taught at the Royal Academy of Music and became Director of Music at Covent Garden. Despite a long, varied and often successful career he ended up in the Insolvent Debtors Court shortly before his death. His work was often of a less serious nature but he was an ardent advocate for English opera, most notably in an 1833 pamphlet entitled A Letter to the Musicians of Great Britain; containing a Prospectus of Proposed Plans for the Better Encouragement of Native Musical Talent and for the Erection and Management of a Grand National Opera in London. An article on the Letter can be found here. Fitzball said of him [1] "Rodwell, though not a great composer, was a first rate melodist".

National Portrait Gallery

[1] Edward Fitzball, Thirty Five Years of a Dramatic Author's Life. (London: T.C.Newby, 1859), p.36


Romer, Francis (Frank), 1810-1889
Frank Romer  was brother of the well know singer Emma Romer and brother in law of Mark Lemon, one of the founders of Punch magazine.  His first appearance in the press was as a composer in 1833 when he was mentioned as having rescored a version of Bellini's La sonnambula for a benefit performance by Emma at the Royal Victoria. Later he arranged the music of Marschner's Des Falkners Braut to a new libretto by Lemon in the opera Rob of the Fen in 1838 at the Lyceum. 1836 saw the staging of his opera The Pacha's Bridal and 1841 that of Fridolin, (originally titled The Seneschal) both to librettos by Lemon. Fridolin's failure appears to have ended his opera career although he continued to compose songs often to words by Lemon but including a setting of some Longfellow poems.  As well as some teaching, eventually becoming a professor at Trinity College, London[1], he wrote a treatise on singing and became a publisher with James Cock and Charles Lane Hutchings. That partnership was dissolved in 1865 (Perry's Bankrupt Gazette, January 7 1865) but he must have then become a partner with Hutchings as their partnership was dissolved in 1884 (The London Gazette, May 2 1884). He died in 1889. His son, Robert, became an M.P. and later a Lord Justice of Appeal.

[1] Patricia de Montfort, Louise Jopling ( Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2017)


Thomson, John, 1805-1841

John Thomson was born near Kelso in Scotland. He met Mendelssohn on the latter's visit to Edinburgh in 1829 and again when Thomson went to Leipzig to study. He became Reid Professor of Music in Edinburgh in 1839, only 18 months before his early death in 1841. He composed songs and chamber works as well for the stage and was the first person in Britain to write musical analysis and commentary on concert works.In December 1829, he provided music for the Edinburgh performances of Sir Walter Scott's youthful drama The House of Aspen. His only opera was Hermann or The Broken Spear (1834). He also produced the music for Serle's play The Shadow on the Wall (1835).


Tully, James Howard, 1814-1868


Wallace, William Vincent, 1812 - 1865


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