Thomas Arne was an eighteenth century composer
When and Where was he Born?
12th March 1710, London, England.
Thomas Arne was the son of an upholsterer in King Street, Covent Garden, London.
Chronology/Biography of Thomas Arne:
The young Arne was keen on the opera and legend has it that he smuggled himself into London’s Italian Opera dressed as a liveryman. Whether this is true or not, he met and became friends with the composer Michael Festing at the opera who taught him the violin and took him to various musical performances.
1732: His father was keen that he should follow the law and he was articled to a solicitor for three years after leaving Eton but was finally persuaded, probably by Festing, that he should follow music as a career. He began to teach his brother and sister to sing and the three of them performed at the Haymarket Theatre during April.
1733: Thomas Arne goes to see Handel’s opera “Athalia” with Festing. His first composition a setting of Addison’s “Rosamond” was performed then times at the theatre at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in London. This was soon followed by his comic opera “Tom Thumb”.
1738: The first of his three successful masques “Comus” was performed at Drury Lane Theatre.
1740: “The Judgment of Paris” was first performed in front of the Prince of Wales at Cliveden in Buckinghamshire to celebrate the birthday of his daughter Princess Augusta. Arne also wrote “The Masque of Althred” for this fete which includes the very famous piece “Rule Britannia”. At the end of the year he composed music for the first of his Shakespeare plays “As You Like it”.
1741: He composed music for “Twelfth Night”.
1742: Arne composed music for “The Merchant of Venice”. Went to Dublin to arrange a benefit concert for Mrs. Arne.
1744: He performed the the oratorio “The Death of Abel” in Dublin.
1745: His setting of “God Save the King” was played at Drury Lane Theatre every night. His piece “Colin and Phoebe” was to become immensely popular in the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall for the next 20 years.
1746: Thomas Arne composed music for “The Tempest”.
1747: He composed music for “Love’s Labour’s Lost”.
1750: His sister, now Mrs Cibber got into an argument with David Garrick over her salary and moved on to Covent Garden where she was quickly followed by Arne himself.
1755: He separated from his wife who he claimed had mad passions and left for London whilst leaving Cecilia in Dublin. He signed a contract to allow his wife £40 per year. Later in the years he published Eight Sets of Lessons for the Harpsichord, Seven Sonatas for Two Violins and a collection of songs.
1759: Arne was awarded the degree of Doctor in Music at Oxford University.
1761: He performs his oratorio “Judith” at Drury Lane Theatre.
1762: His great success came with his performance of his opera “Artaxerxes the Great” at Covent Garden.
1764: More success came with the masque “The Arcadian Nuptials” written to celebrate the marriage of Princess Augusta.
1766: Death of his sister Mrs. Cibber.
1767: Arne’s Four Symphonies were published in London by John Johnston. These showed the influence of J.C. Bach who had visited London and also of Michael Haydn.
1770: His lack of recent theatre work had an effect on his income and his wife threatened legal action after he fell behind with his payments to her.
1771: The masque “The Fairy Queen” helped provide him with a revival in fortunes.
1775: First performance of “Caractacus”.
1778: After a separation of over 20 years he got back together with his wife Cecilia.
1733: “Tom Thumb”.
1740: “Alfred” (A masque for the Prince of Wales which includes the song Rule Britannia).
1761: “Judith”. (Had the first appearance of women singers in the chorus).
To Cecilia Young, a young singer and daughter of the organist of All Hallows Church, Barking, in 1736.
When and Where Did he Die?
5th March 1778, London, England.
Age at Death:
Site of Grave:
St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, London, England.
Places of Interest:
Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Theatre Royal, Haymarket.
Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.