1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Crotch, William

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CROTCH, WILLIAM (1775–1847), English musician, was born in Green’s Lane, Norwich, on the 5th of July 1775. His father was a master carpenter. The child was extraordinarily precocious, and when scarcely more than two years of age he played upon an organ of his parent’s construction something like the tune of “God save the King.” At the age of four he came to London and gave daily recitals on the organ in the rooms of a milliner in Piccadilly. The precocity of his musical intuition was almost equalled by a singularly early aptitude for drawing. In 1786 he went to Cambridge as assistant to Dr Randall the organist. His oratorio The Captivity of Judah was played at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, on the 4th of June 1789. He was then only fourteen years of age. His intention of entering the church carried him to Oxford in 1788, but the superior attractions of a musical career acquired an increasing influence over him, and in 1790 he was appointed organist of Christ Church. At the early age of twenty-two he was appointed professor of music in the university of Oxford, and there in 1799 he took his degree of doctor in that art. In 1800 and the four following years he read lectures on music at Oxford. Next he was appointed lecturer on music to the Royal Institution, and subsequently, in 1822, principal of the London Royal Academy of Music. His last years were passed at Taunton in the house of his son, the Rev. W. R. Crotch, where he died suddenly on the 29th of December 1847. He published a number of vocal and instrumental compositions, of which the best is his oratorio Palestine, produced in 1812. In 1831 appeared an 8vo volume containing the substance of his lectures on music, delivered at Oxford and in London. Previously, he had published three volumes of Specimens of Various Styles of Music. Among his didactic works is Elements of Musical Composition and Thorough-Bass (London, 1812). The oratorio bearing the title The Captivity of Judah, and produced on the occasion of the installation of the duke of Wellington as chancellor of the university of Oxford in 1834, is a totally different work from that which he wrote upon the same subject as a boy of fourteen. He arranged for the pianoforte a number of Handel’s oratorios and operas, besides symphonies and quartetts of Haydn, Mozart and Beethoven. The great expectations excited by his infant precocity were not fulfilled; for he manifested no extraordinary genius for musical composition. But he was an industrious student and a sound artist, and his name remains familiar in English musical history.