Rimbault, Edward Francis (DNB00)

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RIMBAULT, EDWARD FRANCIS (1816–1876), musical author and antiquary, born in Soho on 13 June 1816, was the son of Stephen Francis Rimbault, organist to St. Giles's-in-the-Fields, a descendant from a Huguenot refugee family. After learning the elements of music from his father he became pupil of Samuel Wesley, and at the age of sixteen he was appointed organist to the Swiss Church, Soho. In 1838 he lectured in London on the history of music, a rare subject then, and two years later he, with Edward Taylor, Gresham professor of music [q.v.], and William Chappell, helped to found the Musical Antiquarian Society, of which he became secretary, and for which he edited a number of works. At the same time he assisted in the foundation of the Percy Society, of which likewise he was secretary. In 1841 he became editor of the Motet Society's publications; a year later he was elected F.S.A. and a member of the Academy of Music, Stockholm; he was also made Ph.D. by Göttingen University, and was offered, but declined, the chair of music at Harvard University, U.S.A. In 1842 he edited for the Percy Society 'Five Poetical Tracts of the Sixteenth Century.' In 1844 he joined the committee of the Handel Society, for whom he edited the 'Messiah,' 'Saul,' and 'Samson.' In 1848 he was given a degree by Oxford University in recognition of his services in the arrangement of the music in the music school; and in the same year he lectured at the Royal Institution. Subsequently he occupied himself with his duties as organist of various churches, including St. Peter's, Vere Street, and St. John's Wood presbyterian church, and in editing musical journals and arranging music. He died at 29 St. Mark's Terrace, Regent's Park, on 26 Sept. 1876. He was buried at Highgate cemetery.

Fétis gives a list of no fewer than thirty-nine works, original and arranged or edited by Rimbault. This includes two editions of Marbeck's Book of Common Prayer, a new edition of Arnold's 'Cathedral Music,' North's 'Memoirs of Music' (1846, 4to), the 'Bibliotheca Madrigaliana’ (1847, 8vo); with Dr. E. J. Hopkins, ‘The Organ, its History and Construction’ (1855, 8vo); 'A History of the Pianoforte’ (1865, 4to), 'Early English Organ Builders’ (1865, 8vo), and the ‘Old Cheque Book of the Chapel Royal’ (1872, 4to) for the Camden Society. His chief literary performances outside musical topics were an edition of Sir Thomas Overbury's ‘Works’ (1856, 8vo), and 'Soho and its Associations,’ edited by George Clinch (London, 1895, 8vo). Rimbault possessed a wide rather than deep knowledge of the history of music in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His musical compositions are few and unimportant. They include an operetta, 'The Fair Maid of Islington,' produced in 1838, and a musical drama, 'The Castle Spectre,' which at one time enjoyed a great vogue. He made a large number of pianoforte scores of operas by Spohr, Wallace, Balfe, and others, and was an admirable harmonium player. His large library was sold, after his death, at Sotheby's for nearly 2,000l.

[Musical Standard, 1876, p. 217; Mus. World, 1876, pp. 671, 707; Athenæum, September 1876; Brit. Mus. Cat. For an account of the principal contents of Rimbault's library cf. Musical World, 1877, p. 539.]

R. H. L.