Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 42.djvu/228
play classical chamber-music he also learnt the violoncello. Though living almost entirely at Clermont, he frequently visited Paris, and during one of these visits three string quintets by him were performed at Pleyel's house, and published in 1807. Two pianoforte sonatas and a set of quartets followed, and increased his reputation.
At the suggestion of his friends, Onslow attempted dramatic composition, the fruits of which were the operas: 1. ‘L'Alcalde de la Vega,’ in three acts, produced at the Théâtre Feydeau, 10 Aug. 1824. 2. ‘Le Colporteur,’ also in three acts, at the same theatre, 22 Nov. 1827 (cf. Quarterly Musical Magazine and Review, 1825, x. 349). 3. ‘Le Duc de Guise,’ 8 Sept. 1837. None of these achieved more than a succès d'estime, the overture of the second work alone surviving for any length of time. In 1832 Onslow was elected one of the first honorary members of the Philharmonic Society in London, for which he wrote a symphony. In 1829, while boar-hunting near Nevers, Onslow sat down to make a note of a musical idea, when he was struck by a spent ball that lacerated his ear, and left him partly deaf for the remainder of his life. The musical idea he subsequently developed into the once famous quintet, No. 15, each movement of which is named after some phase in his illness. Thus the first when minor is called ‘La douleur,’ when major ‘La fièvre et le délire;’ the andante ‘La convalescence,’ and the finale ‘La guérison.’ On 10 April 1831 his first symphony—an arrangement of an earlier quintet—was played at a Conservatoire concert in Paris, and with some success; eight other symphonies of his were subsequently given at the same concerts. In 1838 he came into a large fortune by the death of the Marquis de Fontages, whose only daughter he had married. In November 1842 he defeated Adolphe Adam by nineteen votes to seventeen for the chair in the Institut rendered vacant by the death of Cherubini (cf. Athenæum, 26 Nov. 1842, p. 1016). Onslow visited Paris for the last time in 1852. He died suddenly, after a walk at daybreak, on 3 Oct. 1853, at Clermont.
His compositions, the number of which is enormous, include: (1) Symphonies, op. 41, 42; (2) thirty-four quintets; (3) thirty-six quartets; (4) six trios for pianoforte, violin, and violoncello; (5) a number of duets for violin and pianoforte; (6) a sextet (op. 30); (7) a septet (op. 79); (8) a nonet (op. 77); (9) sonatas for pianoforte alone, and for pianoforte and another instrument, besides the dramatic and other works mentioned in the text. The earlier quintets (which are by far his best compositions) were written with two violoncello parts, some of which were arranged subsequently, with one violoncello and one double-bass part. Onslow's works, one or two of which are heard even now occasionally, reveal skill, natural talent, and refinement; but he was devoid of the power of self-criticism, and consequently wrote and published too much. His large private means and high social position enabled him to publish all his works, and to secure their performance. But he has been well, if somewhat severely, characterised by a French writer as ‘a composer who passed the half of his life in searching for a [true] musical sense.’
[Georges Onslow: Esquisse par Auguste Gathy; Notice historique sur la vie et les travaux de Georges Onslow, par F. Halévy, ‘lue dans la séance de l'Académie des Beaux-Arts de l'Institut de France du 6 octobre 1855,’ a somewhat verbose work, reprinted in his Souvenirs et Portraits, Paris, 1861; Le Ménestrel, Paris, 1863–4, p. 113, by D'Ortigue; Scudo's Critique et littérature musicales (s.v. ‘de la Symphonie et de la Musique imitative,’ p. 279 et seq.), Paris, 1850; Schumann in ‘Musik und Musiker,’ vol. i. briefly criticises Onslow's A major symphony; Riehl's Musikalische Charakterköpfe, Stuttgart, 1857; Athenæum, 1853, p. 1233; Biographie Universelle (Michaud), Paris, 1843–66; Nouvelle Biographie Générale, Paris, 1852, &c.; Larousse's Dict. Universel du xixe Siècle, Paris, 1874, xi.; Fétis's Biog. Universelle des Musiciens.]
ONSLOW, RICHARD (1528–1571), speaker of the House of Commons, was second son of Roger Onslow of Shrewsbury, by his first wife Margaret, daughter of Thomas Poyner of Shropshire, presumably a member of the family of Poyner settled at Beslow. The family of Onslow had long been settled at Onslow and other places in the county (Eyton, Antiq. of Shropshire, vol. x.) Roger Onslow lived chiefly in London, though he belonged to the Mercers' Company of Shrewsbury. His eldest son, Fulk, held the office of clerk of parliament under Elizabeth; married Mary Scott, a widow; died 8 Aug. 1602, aged 86, and was buried at Hatfield, where there is an inscription to his memory in the chancel of the church (Clutterbuck, Hertfordshire, ii. 366). Richard Onslow was called to the bar from the Inner Temple, and in 1562 was autumn reader. His progress at the bar must have been very rapid, as in 1563 he was made recorder of London. He sat in the parliaments of 1557–1558 and 1562–3 as member for Steyning, Sussex, and represented that borough till his death. On 27 June 1566 he became solici-