Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/153

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BARNETT.
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tained the popular ballad 'Rise gentle Moon'), and 'The Carnival of Naples,' the latter performed at Covent Garden in 1830. Meantime he was not unmindful of the higher branches of his art, and in 1829 published his oratorio of 'The Omnipresence of the Deity,' which has never been performed in public. In 31 he brought out at Sadler's Wells 'The Pet of the Petticoats,' subsequently transplanted to the greater theatres. This was his most important dramatic work up to this period. It was deservedly popular, and contained dramatic music then new to the English stage.

In 1832 Barnett was engaged by Madame Vestris as music-director of the Olympic Theatre, for which he wrote a number of popular musical pieces—'The Paphian Bower,' 'Olympic Revels,' 'The Court of Queen's Bench,' 'Blanche of Jersey,' etc. Also for Drury Lane a lyrical version of Mrs. Centlivre's 'Bold stroke for a Wife,' with Braham in the principal character. Under the title of 'Win her and Wear her' this piece was played for a few nights, but failed to obtain the success it merited, partly owing to the inappropriateness of the subject. The music contains many gems introduced by the composer into his later works.

In 1834 he published his 'Lyrical Illustrations of the Modern Poets,' a collection of songs of remarkable beauty and poetic feeling; and shortly afterwards 'Songs of the Minstrels,' and 'Amusement for Leisure Hours.' These productions, the first especially, raised him in the estimation of the musical world.

Barnett's great work 'The Mountain Sylph' was produced at the Lyceum in August 1834 with remarkable success. It was originally designed as a musical drama for one of the minor theatres, and afterwards extended into complete operatic form. It met with some opposition on the first night, but soon became a standard favourite. 'Here then,' says Professor Macfarren, 'was the first English opera constructed in the acknowledged form of its age since Arne's time-honoured Artaxerxes; and it owes its importance as a work of art, not more to the artistic mould in which it is cast than to the artistic, conscientious, emulous feeling that pervades it. Its production opened a new period for music in this country, from which is to be dated the establishment of an English dramatic school, which, if not yet accomplished, has made many notable advances.' Barnett dedicated the work to his old master, Arnold, extolling him as the fosterer of the British Muse; but before the year was out he changed his tone, complaining in the public prints that this same manager had refused to pay him for the composition of a new opera.

He now spent some time in Paris, with the purpose of producing there his opera of 'Fair Rosamond,' but returned, on the invitation of Bunn, to bring out the work at Drury Lane. It was performed in February 1837, with indifferent success, mainly owing to its ill-constructed libretto. It is full of charming music, and, wedded to a new poem, would command attention from an audience of the present day. In this year Barnett married the daughter of Lindley the violoncellist, with whom he went to Frankfort, with the view of studying Vogler's system of harmony and the principles of composition under Snyder von Wartensee. Here he wrote a symphony and two quartets, which are still unpublished. On his return to London in 1838, he produced his opera of 'Farinelli' at Drury Lane, perhaps his best work. In this year, in conjunction with Morris Barnett, the actor, dramatist, and journalist, he opened the St. James's Theatre, with the intention of founding an English opera house; but (owing to unforeseen circumstances) the theatre prematurely closed at the end of the first week.

At the beginning of 1841 Barnett established himself as a singing master at Cheltenham, where he remains (1876) in extensive practice. In the following year he published a pamphlet of sixty pages, entitled 'Systems and Singing Masters: an analytic comment upon the Wilhem System as taught in England'—cleverly and caustically written, but unjustly severe upon Mr. Hullah.

Mr. Barnett has at least three operas which have never been performed. 'Kathleen,' the libretto by Sheridan Knowles, is highly spoken of by those who have heard the music. His single songs are said to number nearly four thousand.

Barnett's music is highly dramatic. His melodies are marked by decided character, and his skill in orchestration is great. It is much to be regretted that he has withheld his later works from the public. (Imp. Dict, of Univ. Biog.; Private sources.) [App. p.531 "Died Apr. 17, 1890."]

[ E. F. R. ]

BARNETT, John Francis, nephew of the preceding, son of Joseph Alfred Barnett, a professor of music, was born Oct. 6, 1838 [App. p.531 "Oct. 16, 1837"]. He began the study of the pianoforte when six years old under the guidance of his mother. When eleven he was placed under Dr. Wylde. The boy progressed rapidly in his studies, and a twelve-month later became a candidate for the Queen's Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. This he gained, and at the expiration of two years, the duration of the scholarship, he competed again, and was again successful. During the first year of his scholarship he was engaged and played (from memory) Mendelssohn's Concerto in D minor at the New Philharmonic Society, under the direction of Spohr (July 4, 1853). The second scholarship coming to an end in 1857, he visited Germany, studied under Hauptmann and Rietz at the Conservatorium at Leipsic, and performed at the Gewandhaus (Mar. 22, 1860). At the expiration of three years he returned to London and played at the Philharmonic, June 10, 1861. The first composition that brought the young composer into notice was a symphony in A minor, produced at the Musical Society of London (June 15, 1864). He has since written several quartets and quintets for string instruments, pianoforte trios, as well as an 'Overture Symphonique' for