A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Crotch, William

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CROTCH, William, Mus. Doc., was born at Norwich, July 5, 1775. His father, a master carpenter, who combined a taste for music and mechanics, had constructed for himself a small organ. When little more than two years old the child evinced a strong desire to get to this instrument, and being placed before it, contrived shortly to play something like the tune of 'God, save the King,' which he soon was able to play with its bass, and other tunes. His ear was remarkably sensitive, and readily distinguished any note when struck, or detected faulty intonation. The Hon. Daines Barrington, a well-known amateur, published an interesting account of him, and Dr. Burney communicated to the Royal Society an account, which was printed in the Philosophical Transactions for 1779. In the spring of 1780 [App. p.601 "Oct. 1779"] the child was brought to London, and performed in public on the organ. Besides his musical ability he displayed considerable skill in drawing, to which art he remained attached through life, and attained to much eminence in it. In 1786 Crotch went to Cambridge, and remained there about two years as assistant to Dr. Randall, the Professor of Music, and organist of Trinity and King's Colleges, and Great St. Mary's Church. At fourteen years of age he composed an oratorio, 'The Captivity of Judah,' which was performed at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, June 4, 1789. In 1788 he removed to Oxford, where he studied, under the patronage of the Rev. A. C. Schomberg, of Magdalen College, with a view of entering the church. His patron dying, he resumed the profession of music, and in September, 1790, was appointed, on the death of Thomas Norris, organist of Christ Church. On June 5, 1794, he graduated as Bachelor of Music. In March, 1797, he succeeded Dr. Philip Hayes, deceased, as organist of St. John's College, and Professor of Music in the University. On Nov. 21, 1799, he proceeded Doctor of Music, composing as his exercise Dr. Joseph Warton's 'Ode to Fancy,' the score of which he afterwards published. From 1800 to 1804 he delivered lectures in the Music School. In 1812 he produced his oratorio 'Palestine,' which was received with great favour, and also published a treatise on the 'Elements of Musical Composition.' About 1820 he was appointed music lecturer at the Royal Institution, London, and on the establishment of the Royal Academy of Music in 1822 was placed at its head as principal. [App. p.601 "He lectured at the Royal Institution in 1804, 5 and 7, and again from 1820 onwards."] On June 10, 1834, he produced at Oxford, on the installation of the Duke of Wellington as Chancellor, an oratorio, 'The Captivity of

Judah,' wholly different from his juvenile work bearing the same title.[1] On June 28 in the same year he made his last public appearance as a performer, by acting as organist for part of the third day's performance at the Royal Musical Festival in Westminster Abbey. Dr. Crotch died at Taunton at the house of his son, the Rev. William Robert Crotch, then Head Master of the Grammar School there, where he had for some time resided, while seated at dinner, Dec. 29, 1847, and was interred in the neighbouring church of Bishop's Hull, where a monumental inscription is placed to his memory. Besides the works above specified, Dr. Crotch produced 'Ten Anthems,' some chants, a motet, 'Methinks I hear'; several glees; some fugues and concertos for the organ; several pianoforte pieces; an ode on the accession of George IV, performed at Oxford, 1820; Funeral Anthem for the Duke of York, 1827; 'The Lord is King,' anthem for voices and orchestra, 1843; and some works on Thorough Bass and Harmony. He also published 'Specimens of various styles of Music referred to in a course of Lectures on Music read at Oxford and London,' and in 1831 the 'Substance of several courses of Lectures on Music read at Oxford and in the Metropolis.' As a teacher he enjoyed a high and deserved reputation.

[ W. H. H. ]

  1. The MS. is now (1876) in possession of the Rev. Sir F. Ouseley, Bart.