Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/499

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page needs to be proofread.


SHIELD.

mitted him to pursue his musical studies, and he obtained some lessons in thorough-bass from Charles Avison, and occasionally played the violin at music meetings in the neighbourhood. On the expiration of his apprenticeship, having acquired sufficient knowledge to lead the sub- scription concerts at Newcastle, he determined upon making music his profession, and removed to Scarborough, where he became leader at the theatre and concerts. Whilst there he produced his first composition, an anthem for the opening of a new church at Sunderland. Having been heard by Fischer and Borghi, they recommended him to Giardini, by whom he was engaged in 1773 as a second violin in the Opera band. In 1773 he was promoted to the post of principal viola the favourite instrument of composers which he held for 18 years, and which he also filled at all the principal concerts. In 1778 he produced, at the Haymarket, his first dramatic piece, the comic opera 'The Flitch of Bacon.' This led to his being engaged as composer to Covent Garden Theatre, a post which he occu- pied until his resignation, 1791. During his en- gagement he composed many operas and other pieces. In 1791 he made the acquaintance of Haydn, and was wont to say that in four days, during which he accompanied Haydn from London to Taplow and back, he gained more knowledge than he had done by study in any four years of his life. In the same year he visited France and Italy. In 1792 he was re-engaged as composer at Covent Garden, in which capacity he acted until 1797. In 1807 he gave up all connection with the theatre.

He published at various times, 'A Collection of Favourite Songs, To which is added a Duet for two Violins ' ; ' A Collection of Canzonets and an Elegy'; and 'A Cento, consisting of Ballads, Rounds, Glees, etc.' ; likewise ' Six Trios for two Violins and Bass,' and Six Duos for two Violins.' He was also author of ' An Introduction to Har- mony/ 1794 and 1800; and 'Rudiments of Thorough Bass.' His dramatic compositions, con- sisting of operas, musical farces, and pantomimes, were as follow: 1778, 'The Flitch of Bacon'; 1782, 'Lord Mayor's Day'; 1783, 'The Poor Soldier,' ' Rosina,' ' Friar Bacon ' ; 1 784, ' Robin Hood,' 'The Noble Peasant,' ' Fontainbleau,' The Magic Cavern'; 1785, 'Love in a Camp,' 'The Nunnery,' 'The Choleric Fathers,' 'Omai'; 1786, 'Richard Cceur de Lion,' 'The Enchanted Castle'; 1787, 'The Farmer'; 1788, 'The High- land Reel,' 'Marian,' 'The Prophet,' 'Aladdin';

1790, 'The Crusade,' 'The Picture of Paris';

1791, 'The Woodman/ 'Oscar and Malvina' (part only) [see REEVE, WILLIAM]; 1792, 'Hartford Bridge,' 'Harlequin's Museum'; 1793, 'The Deaf Lover,' 'The Midnight Wanderers'; 1794, 'Arrived at Portsmouth,' 'The Travellers in Switzerland'; 1 795, 'The Mysteries of the Castle'; 1796, 'Abroad and at Home,' 'Lock and Key'; 1 797, ' The Italian Villagers '; 1807, ' Two Faces under a Hood.' In many of his pieces he intro- duced songs, etc., selected from the works of other composers, English and foreign ; and was thereby

��SHIFT.

��487

��the means of making the general public acquainted with many beautiful melodies, of which they would otherwise have remained ignorant.

Shield was perhaps the most original English composer since Purcell. His melodies charm by their simple, natural beauty; at once vigorous, chaste and refined, they appeal directly to the hearts of Englishmen. But he also wrote songs of agility, bristling with the most formidable diffi- culties ; these were composed to display the abilities of Mrs. Billington and others. Among his most popular songs are ' The Thorn,' ' The Wolf," The heaving of the lead,' 'Old Towler,' ' The Arethusa,' ' The Ploughboy,' and ' The Post Captain ' ; but these are but some of the most prominent. One of his most popular pieces waa the trio, 'O happy fair,' which, though beautiful as music, is remarkable for a singular misreading of the text, which he has punctuated thus :

O happy fair,

Tour eyes are loadstars and your tongue sweet air.

More tunable than lark to shepherd's ear,

When wheat is green, when hawthorn buds appear- actually closing the composition with a repeti- tion of the first two lines. Shield died at his residence in Berners Street, Jan. 25, 1829, and was buried on Feb. 4 in the south cloister of Westminster Abbey. With the exception of his fine tenor, reputed a Stainer, which he bequeathed to George IV (who accepted the gift, but directed that its utmost value should be paid to the tes- tator's presumed widow), he left his whole estate to his 'beloved partner, Ann [Stokes], Mrs. Shield upwards of forty years.' His valuable musical library was sold in July 1829. [W.H.H.]

SHIFT, in violin-playing, a change of the hand's position on the fingerboard. In the first or ordinary position, the note stopped by the first finger is one semitone, or one tone, as the scale may require, above the open string. [See POSITION.] Whenever this position is quitted, the player is said to be ' on the shift ' ; and the term is applied to changes of position, in either direction, the player being said to ' shift up ' or ' down ' as the case may be. The second position on the violin is called the ' half shift,' the third position the ' whole shift,' and the fourth the ' double shift.' The use of the shift is derived from the viol. Instruments of the lute and viol type were generally fretted by semitones throughout their lower octave, or half of the string's length, and on a fretted instrument the use of the shift pre- sents no difficulty. The viol music of the 1 7th cen- tury proves that players were familiar with the art of shifting throughout the lower octave ; and it is clear that it was equally well-known to the old Italian violinists. From the following passage, taken from a work of Tarquinio Merula (before

���1639), it is quite evident that they were familiar with the alternation of the first, second, and

�� �