1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Thomas, Arthur Goring

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THOMAS, ARTHUR GORING (1850-1892), English musical composer, was the youngest son of Freeman Thomas and Amelia, daughter of Colonel Thomas Frederick. He was born at Ratton Park, Sussex, on the 20th of November 1850, and educated at Haileybury College. He was intended for the Civil Service, but delicate health interfered with his studies, and in 1873 he went to Paris to cultivate the musical talent he had displayed from an early age. Here he studied for two years with Émile Durand. In 1875 he returned to England, and in 1877 entered the Royal Academy of Music, where for three years he studied under Ebenezer Prout and Arthur Sullivan, winning twice the Lucas medal for composition. At a later period he received some instruction in orchestration from Max Bruch. His first published composition was a song, “Le Roi Henri,” which appeared in 1871. An early comic opera, Don Braggadocio (libretto by his brother, C. I. Thomas), was apparently unfinished; some of the music in it was afterwards used for The Golden Web. A selection from his second opera, The Light of the Harem (libretto by Clifford Harrison), was performed at the Royal Academy of Music on the 7th of November 1879, with such success that Carl Rosa commissioned him to write Esmeralda (libretto by T. Marzials and A. Randegger), which was produced at Drury Lane on the 26th of March 1883. Two years later it was given (in German) at Cologne and Hamburg, and in 1890 (in French) at Covent Garden. On the 16th of April 1885 Rosa produced at Drury Lane Thomas's fourth and best opera, Nadeshda (libretto by Julian Sturgis), a German version of which was given at Breslau in 1890. A fifth opera, The Golden Web (libretto by F. Corder and B. C. Stephenson), slighter than its predecessors, was produced (after the composer's death) at Liverpool, Feb. 15, and at the Lyric Theatre, London, Mar. 11, 1893. Besides these dramatic works Thomas's chief compositions were a psalm, “Out of the Deep,” for soprano solo and chorus (London, 1878); a choral ode, “The Sun Worshippers” (Norwich, 1881), and a suite de ballet for orchestra (Cambridge, 1887). A cantata, The Swan and the Skylark, was found in pianoforte score among his MSS. after his death: it was orchestrated by C. Villiers Stanford, and produced at the Birmingham Festival of 1894. His minor compositions include over 100 songs and duets. In 1891 Thomas became engaged to be married; shortly afterwards he showed signs of mental disease, and his career came to a tragic end on the 2Oth of March 1892. He was buried in Finchley cemetery. Goring Thomas occupies a distinct place among English composers of the 19th century. His music, which shows traces of his early French training, reveals a great talent for dramatic composition and a real gift of refined and beautiful melody. Personally the most amiable of men, he was most critical of his own work, never attempting anything for which he felt he was unfitted, and constantly revising and rewriting his compositions.

(W. B. S.*)