1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Croft, William

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CROFT (or Crofts), WILLIAM (1678–1727), English composer, was born in 1678, at Nether Ettington in Warwickshire. He received his musical education in the Chapel Royal under Dr Blow. He early obtained the place of organist of St Anne’s, Soho, and in 1700 was admitted a gentleman extraordinary of the Chapel Royal. In 1707 he was appointed joint-organist with Blow; and upon the death of the latter in 1708 he became solo organist, and also master of the children and composer of the Chapel Royal, besides being made organist of Westminster Abbey. In 1712 he wrote a brief introduction on the history of English church music to a collection of the words of anthems which he had edited under the title of Divine Harmony. In 1713 he obtained his degree of doctor of music in the university of Oxford. In 1724 he published an edition of his choral music in 2 vols. folio, under the name of Musica Sacra, or Select Anthems in score, for two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight voices, to which is added the Burial Service, as it is occasionally performed in Westminster Abbey. This handsome work included a portrait of the composer and was the first of the kind executed on pewter plates and in score. John Page, in his Harmonia Sacra, published in 1800 in 3 vols. folio, gives seven of Croft’s anthems. Of instrumental music, Croft published six sets of airs for two violins and a bass, six sonatas for two flutes, six solos for a flute and bass. He died at Bath on the 14th of August 1727, and was buried in the north aisle of Westminster Abbey, where a monument was erected to his memory by his friend and admirer Humphrey Wyrley Birch. Burney in his History of Music devotes several pages of his third volume (pp. 603-612) to Dr Croft’s life, and criticisms of some of his anthems. During the earlier period of his life Croft wrote much for the theatre, including overtures and incidental music for Courtship à la mode (1700), The Funeral (1702) and The Lying Lover (1703).