William Crotch

William Crotch

William Crotch (5 July 1775–29 December 1847) was an English composer, organist and artist.

Born in Norwich to a master carpenter he showed early musical talent (a child prodigy). The three and a half year old Master William Crotch was taken to London by his ambitious mother, where he not only played on the organ of the Chapel Royal in St. James's Palace, but for the King. "The London Magazine" of April 1779 records:

He appears to be fondest of solemn tunes and church musick, particularly the 104th Psalm. As soon as he has finished a regular tune, or part of a tune, or played some little fancy notes of his own, he stops, and has some of the pranks of a wanton boy; some of the company then generally give him a cake, an apple, or an orange, to induce him to play again... ["The London Magazine", April 1779.]

Crotch was later to observe that this experience led him to become a rather spoilt child, excessively indulged so that he would perform.

He was for a time organist at Christ Church, Oxford, from which he was later to graduate with a Bachelor of Music degree.

His composition "The Captivity of Judah" was played at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, on 4 June 1789; his most successful composition in adulthood was the oratorio "Palestine" (1812). He may have composed the "Westminster Chimes" in 1793.

In 1797 Crotch was given a professorship at Oxford University, and in 1799 he acquired a doctorate in music. While at Oxford, he became acquainted with the musician and artist John Malchair, and took up sketching. He followed Malchair's style in recording the exact time and date of each of his pictures, and when he met John Constable in London in 1805, he passed the habit along to the more famous artist.

In 1834, to commemorate the installation of the Duke of Wellington as chancellor of the University of Oxford, Crotch penned a second oratorio titled "The Captivity of Judah". The 1834 work bears little resemblance to the oratorio he wrote as a child in 1789.

In 1822, Crotch was appointed to the Royal Academy of Music as its first Principal. He was however dismissed ten years later for what appears to have been a minor indiscretion with a female student: he kissed her after a particularly fine harmony exercise. [Liner notes for CD DKP(CD)9126 (Unicorn-Kanchana Records)] He spent his last years at his son's house in Taunton, where he died suddenly in 1847.

External links and References

* [http://www.hoasm.org/VIIJ/Crotch.html William Crotch (1775–1847)]

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