Locke, Matthew (DNB00)
|←Locke, Joseph||Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 34
LOCKE, MATTHEW (1630?–1677), musical composer, was a native of Exeter, and was, according to the entry in the marriage license presumed to be his, thirty years old in March 1663-4, but it is probable that he was four years older. He was a chorister at Exeter Cathedral in 1638, when he was possibly about eight, and there are still extant on the inner side of the west front of the old organ screen in the cathedral the letters and figures 'Mathew Lock 1638,' and 'M L 1641,' deeply and firmly carved in the stone in characters about two inches in height. His first master was the Rev. Edward Gibbons, organist and priest-vicar of Exeter Cathedral, but he was subsequently a pupil of William Wake, also organist of the cathedral. Soon after 1641 the musical services in Exeter Cathedral were discontinued, and the choral establishment dispersed. Locke pursued his musical studies, and in 1651 composed a 'little consort of three parts,' at the request of his former master, Wake, for the use of Wake's scholars. This was published five years later. He was associated with Christopher Gibbons in the composition of music for Shirley's masque 'Cupid and Death,' which was performed at the military grounds in Leicester Fields in presence of the Portuguese ambassador on 26 March 1653. He also composed a portion of the vocal music for D'Avenant's '“Seige of Rhodes,” which was perform'd at the back of Rutland House in the upper end of Aldersgate Street' in 1656; on this occasion he essayed the character of the Admiral, and sang the music allotted to the part. Pepys, in his 'Diary,' 21 Feb. 1659, writes: 'After dinner I back to Westminster Hall, here I met with Mr. Lock and Pursell, masters of musique, and with them to the coffee house, into a room next the water by ourselves.—Here we had variety of brave Italian and Spanish songs and a Canon of eight voices which Mr. Lock had lately made on these words, “Domine salvum fac Regem,” an admirable thing.' Locke composed the music 'for the king's sagbutts and cornets,' which was performed during the progress of Charles II through the city, from the Tower to Whitehall, on 22 April 1661, the day before the coronation. This music found favour with Charles, who forthwith created Locke 'Composer in Ordinary to His Majestye,' and he also acted as 'one of the gentlemen of his majesties Private Musick,' for which he was receiving the salary of 40l. in 1674. While holding the appointment of composer in ordinary he wrote several fine anthems with instrumental accompaniment; one of them, 'When the Son of Man shall come in all his Glory,' was afterwards imitated by James Kent [q. v.], who appropriated several of Locke's expressive phrases. In 1664 Locke composed the instrumental, vocal, and recitative music for Sir Robert Stapylton's tragi-comedy 'The Stepmother.' Subsequently he composed music for the 'Kyrie Eleison' (responses to the Commandments), which was performed at the Chapel Royal on 1 April 1666. It had previously been the custom to repeat the same music after each commandment, but Locke furnished different music for all the responses, and the innovation met with disapproval and outspoken remonstrance from the members of the choir. Locke defended himself by publishing the music, with the title 'Modern Church Music: Pre-accused, Censur'd, and Obstructed in its Performance before His Majesty 1 April 1666. Vindicated by the Author, Matt Lock, Composer in Ordinary to His Majesty.'. Pepys, in his 'Diary' (2 Sept. 1667), has a reference to the incident; he says: 'Spent all the afternoon, Pelling, Howe, and I, and my boy, singing of Lock's response to the Ten Commandments, which he hath set very finely, and was a good while since sung before the king, and spoiled in the performance, which occasioned the printing them for his vindication, and are excellent good.' It is probable that after this unpleasant episode he wrote no more music for the Chapel Royal. He was soon afterwards appointed organist to Queen Catherine, who maintained a Roman catholic chapel and ecclesiastical establishment in Somerset House; while holding this post Locke composed numerous Latin hymns, many of which are still extant in manuscript. On this slender ground it has been asserted that he became a Roman catholic, but the proofs are wanting. Roger North, in his 'Memoires of Musick' (p. 95), says Locke 'was organist at Somerset House chapel as long as he lived, but the Italian masters that served there did not approve of his manner of play, but must be attended by more polite hands; and one while one Sabancino, and afterwards Sig. Baptista Draghi used the great organ, and Locke (who must not be turned out of his place, nor the execution) had a small chamber-organ by, on which he perform'd with them the same services.' North adds that Locke 'set most of the Psalms to musick in parts for the use of some vertuoso ladyes in the city, and he composed a magnified consort of 4 parts after the old style, which was the last of the kind that hath been made.'
According to the testimony of Downes in his 'Roscius Anglicanus,' Locke was author of the well-known 'Macbeth' music for its representation in 1672, but this music is now ascribed to Henry Purcell. Locke did compose 'Macbeth' music, some of which was published in 1666 and again in 1669, but it has no resemblance to the popular music which passes under his name. He wrote instrumental music for the Dryden and D'Avenant version of the 'Tempest,' and vocal music with Draghi in 1673 for Shadwell's 'Psyche,' which he published with an interesting preface in 1675.
In 1672 Locke was involved in a bitter controversy with Thomas Salmon, who had published 'An Essay to the Advancement of Musick, by casting away the Perplexity of different Cliffs.' Locke replied to Salmon's proposals in 'Observations upon a Late Book entitled "An Essay,"' &c.; Salmon retorted in 'A Vindication of an Essay,' and Locke answered him again in 1673 in 'The Present Practise of Music Vindicated.' Other writers joined in the fray, which was carried on with characteristic asperity; but Salmon's proposals had no practical result, and Locke had the better of the argument.
In 1673 a small treatise by Locke appeared, with the title 'Melothesia, or Certain General Rules for Playing upon a Continued Bass, with a Choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord or Organ of all sorts;' and he contributed to numerous printed collections of the time, including:
- 'Courtly Masquing Ayres,' 1662.
- 'Musick's Delight on the Cithern,' 1666.
- 'Catch that Catch can, or the Musical Companion,' 1667.
- 'Apollo's Banquet,' 1669.
- 'The Treasury of Musick,' 1669.
- 'Cantica Sacra,' 1674.
- 'Choice Ayres,' 1676-84.
- 'Musick's Handmaid,' 1678.
- 'Greeting's Pleasant Companion,' 1680.
- 'The Theater of Musick,' 1687.
- 'Harmonia Sacra,' 1688 and 1714.
Locke lived in the Savoy, and died in August 1677. He is supposed to have been buried in the Savoy Chapel, but the absence of the registers of the chapel for that year renders the assertion unprovable. He left no will, and his widow having renounced her right to administer his estate, letters for the purpose were granted to the musician's daughter, Mary Locke, 13 Dec. 1677. Locke lived on the most intimate terms with Henry Purcell [q. v.] and other members of the Purcell family. Purcell composed an ode, solo and chorus, 'On the Death of his Worthy Friend, Mr. Matthew Locke, Musick Composer in Ordinary to His Majesty, and Organist of Her Majesties Chappel who Dyed in August 1677,' which was printed by Playford. Locke in his early days spelt his name without the final vowel, but eventually adopted the form here given.
A certain 'Matthew Lock of Westminster' obtained a license, dated 8 March 1663-4, to marry in London, Alice, daughter of Edmund Smyth of Annables, Hertfordshire (Chester, Marriage Licenses, ed. Foster, p. 854). It is needful to remember that there was living at the same time as the musician another Matthew Lock, who was 'secretary-at-war,' and is frequently mentioned in Pepys's 'Diary.'
North writes with some regret of Locke's abandonment of 'the old style' for 'the modes of his time,' and of his fall 'into the theatricall way;' but he admits that his compositions for 'the semi-operas' met 'with very good success' and only gave way to 'the divine Purcell.' His 'viol-music' was highly esteemed, and may be judged by the specimens in the autograph collection of his compositions which he presented to Charles II in 1672; it is now in the British Museum (Add. MS. 17801). The same library contains the autograph scores of the music to the Psalms (ib. 31437) and of the masque 'Cupid and Death'(ib. 17799). Other manuscript compositions are to be found in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, Ely Cathedral, and the Royal College of Music. Several part books with sackbut music composed for the king, which belonged to Charles II, are in the possession of the present writer, together with a perfect set of the Salmon and Locke controversial tracts, believed by Hawkins not to exist. An oil portrait of Locke is preserved in the university of Oxford.
[Sir J. Hawkins's Hist. of Music; Burney's Hist. of Music; Grove's Dict. of Music; North's Memoirs of Musick, ed. Rimbault, pp. 95-6.]