Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/17

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ABEL
ABOS
5

being of his own composition. His facility was remarkable: he is reported to have performed more than once on the horn, as well as on 'new instruments never heard in public before.' From the year 1765 however he confined himself to the viol-da-gamba. He was appointed chamber-musician to Queen Charlotte, with a salary of £200 a-year. On the arrival of John Christian Bach, in the autumn of 1762, Abel joined him; they lived together, and jointly conducted Mrs. Cornelys' subscription concerts. The first of their series took place in Carlisle-house, Soho-square, on January 23, 1765, and they were maintained for many years. The Hanover-square Rooms were opened on Feb. 1, 1775, by one of these concerts. Haydn's Symphonies were first performed in England at them, and Wilhelm Cramer the violinist, father of J. B. Cramer, made his first appearance there. After Bach's death on Jan. 1, 1782, the concerts were continued by Abel, but with indifferent success. In 1783 he returned to Germany, taking Paris on the way back, where he appears to have begun that indulgence in drink which eventually caused his death. In 1785 we find him again in London, engaged in the newly established 'Professional Concerts,' and in the 'Subscription Concerts' of Mr. Salomon and Mme. Mara at the Pantheon. At this time his compositions were much performed, and he himself still played often in public. His last appearance was at Mrs. Billington's concert on May 11, 1787, shortly after which, on June 20, he died, after a lethargy or sleep of three days' duration. His death was much spoken of in the papers. Abel's symphonies, overtures, quartetts, concertos, and sonatas were greatly esteemed, and many of them were published by Bremner of London and Hummel of Berlin. The most favourite were 'A fifth set of six overtures, op. 14' (Bremner), and 'Six sonatas, op. 18.' Abel's playing was most remarkable in slow movements. 'On the viol-da-gamba,' says the 'European Magazine,' 1784, p. 366, 'he is truly excellent, and no modern has been heard to play an Adagio with greater taste and feeling.' Burney's testimony is to the same effect, and he adds that 'his musical science and taste were so complete that he became the umpire in all musical controversy, and was consulted like an oracle.' He was accustomed to call his instrument 'the king of instruments,' and to say of himself that there was 'one God and one Abel.' Among his pupils both in singing and composition were J. B. Cramer, Graeff, and Brigida Giorgi (Signora Banti). His friend Gainsborough painted a three-quarter-length portrait of Abel playing on the viol-da-gamba, distinguished by its careful execution, beauty of colouring, and deep expression. It was bequeathed by Miss Gainsborough to Mr. Briggs, and was sold in London in 1866. Gainsborough also exhibited a whole-length of Abel at the Royal Academy in 1777, and a very powerful portrait of him by Robineau is to be found at Hampton Court.

[ C. F. P. ]

ABEL, Leopold August, born at Cöthen 1720, death unknown; elder brother of the preceding, violinist, and pupil of Benda. He played in the orchestra of the theatre at Brunswick, and was successively conductor of the court band to the Prince of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (1758), the Margrave of Schwedt (1766), and the Duke of Schwerin. He composed six violin concertos mentioned in Böhme's catalogue, but never rose to the reputation of his brother.

[ M. C. C. ]

ABELL, John, a celebrated alto singer and performer on the lute, was born about 1660, and probably educated in the choir of the Chapel Royal, of which establishment he was sworn a 'gentleman extraordinary' in 1679. He was greatly patronised by royalty, and between the years 1679 and 1688 received 'bounty money' amounting to no less than £740. (See 'Moneys received and paid for secret services of Charles II and James II'—Camd. Soc.). Charles II sent him to Italy to study, and after his return Evelyn thus describes meeting him: 'Jan. 24, 1682-3 [App. p.517 "Jan. 27, 1681–2"]. After supper came in the famous treble, Mr. Abel, newly returned from Italy. I never heard a more excellent voice, and would have sworn it had been a woman's, it was so high and so well and skilfully managed, being accompanied by Signor Francisco on the harpsichord.' He remained in the service of the chapel until the Revolution of 1688, when he was dismissed for his supposed leaning to the Romish religion. After this he travelled abroad, visiting France, Germany, Holland, and Poland, leading a vagrant sort of life, and depending for his support upon his voice and lute. [[App. p.517 "It is said that when Abell was at Warsaw he refused to sing before the court, but his objections were overcome by the somewhat summary method of suspending him in a chair in the middle of a large hall, while some bears were admitted below him. He was asked whether he preferred singing to the king and the court, who were in a gallery opposite to him, or being lowered to the bears; he not unnaturally chose the former alternative. He was Intendant at Cassel in 1698 and 1699. (Dict. of Nat. Biog.)"] About the latter end of the reign of Queen Anne [App. p.517 "William and Mary"], Abell returned to England, and occupied a prominent position on the stage. Congreve, in a letter dated 'Lond. Decem. 10, 1700,' says 'Abell is here: has a cold at present, and is always whimsical, so that when he will sing or not upon the stage are things very disputable, but he certainly sings beyond all creatures upon earth, and I have heard him very often both abroad and since he came over.' (Literary Relics, 1792, p. 322).

In 1701 Abell published two works, 'A Collection of Songs in Several Languages,' which he dedicated to William III, and 'A collection of Songs in English.' The latter contains a very curious poem of some length, addressed to 'All lovers of Musick,' in which he describes some of his doings on the continent. His death is not recorded, but it was after 1716, when he gave a concert at Stationers' Hall. (Hawkins, Hist.; Cheque-Book Chap. Roy., etc.).

ABOS, Geronimo, born at Malta in the beginning of the 18th century, died at Naples about 1786, a composer of the Neapolitan school, and pupil of Leo and Durante. He was a teacher in the Conservatrio of 'La Pietà' at Naples, and trained many eminent singers, of whom Aprile was the most famous. He visited Rome, Venice, Turin, and, in 1756, London, where he held the post of maestro al cembalo at the opera. His operas are 'La Pupilla e 'l Tutore,' 'La Serva Padrona,' and 'L'Ifigenia in Aulide' (Naples),