A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Blewitt, Jonas

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BLEWITT, Jonas, a celebrated organist in the latter half of the 18th century, author of 'A Treatise on the Organ, with explanatory Voluntaries'; 'Ten Voluntaries, or pieces for the Organ,' etc.; 'Twelve easy and familiar movements for the Organ,' etc. He died in 1805. His son, Jonathan Blewitt, was born in London in 1782, received the rudiments of his musical education from his father, and was afterwards placed under his godfather, Jonathan Battishill. At eleven years old he was appointed deputy organist to his father. After holding several appointments as organist, he left London for Haverhill, Suffolk; and subsequently became organist of Brecon, where he remained three years. On the death of his father he returned to London, with the intention of bringing out an opera he had composed for Drury Lane, but the burning of that theatre destroyed his hopes. He next went to Sheffield as organist. [App. p.549 "about 1795 he was organist of the united parishes of St. Margaret Pattens and St. Gabriel Fenchurch, also of St. Catherine Coleman, Fenchurch Street."] In 1811 he took up his abode in Ireland, in the family of Lord Cahir. He was appointed organist of St. Andrew's Church, Dublin, and composer and director of the music to the Theatre Royal in that city. The Duke of Leinster appointed him grand organist to the masonic body of Ireland, and he became the conductor of the principal concerts in Dublin. When Logier commenced his system of musical instruction in Ireland, Blewitt was the first who joined him; and being an able lecturer, and possessing sound musical knowledge, he soon procured the great majority of teaching in Dublin.

Before 1826 Blewitt was again in London, and wrote the music for a pantomime, 'The Man in the Moon, or, Harlequin Dog Star,' produced at Drury Lane with great success. In 1828 and 29 he was director of the music at Sadler's Wells, and wrote several clever works—'The Talisman of the Elements,' 'Auld Robin Gray,' 'My old woman' (adapted from Fétis), etc. He was also the composer of the operas of 'The Corsair,' 'The Magician,' 'The Island of Saints,' 'Rory O'More,' 'Mischief Making,' etc., and of a number of ballads, particularly in the Irish style, which enjoyed considerable popularity. Blewitt was a good singer, and possessed a fund of humour, qualifications which sometimes led him into questionable company. In his latter years he was connected with the Tivoli Gardens, Margate. He died September 4, 1853.

[ E. F. R. ]