A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Harper, Thomas

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HARPER, Thomas, born at Worcester May 3, 1787; when about ten years of age came to London and learnt the horn and trumpet under Eley, then master of the East India Volunteer Band. He soon afterwards became a member of the band and a great proficient on the trumpet. He continued in the band nearly 18 years, during the first 7 of which he also performed in the orchestras of some of the minor theatres. About 1806 he was appointed principal trumpet at Drury Lane, and the English Opera House, Lyceum. In 1820 he was engaged in the same capacity at the Birmingham Musical Festival, and in the following year succeeded the elder Hyde at the Concert of Ancient Music, the Italian Opera, and all the pricipal concerts and festivals, a position which he retained for upwards of a quarter of a century. The East India Company nominated him inspector of the musical instruments supplied to their bands, an appointment which he held until his death. Harper played on the slide trumpet, and produced a pure, brilliant, and even tone, with a command of execution which enabled him to surmount the greatest difficulties on his most difficult instrument. He was stricken with mortal sickness at a rehearsal in Exeter Hall for a concert of the Harmonic Union, and died in a few hours afterwards on Jan. 20, 1853. He was author of an Instruction Book for the Trumpet. Harper left three sons, the eldest of whom, Thomas, succeeded his father in all his appointments as principal trumpet, a position he still holds; the second, Charles, long filled the place of principal horn in the best orchestras; and the youngest, Edmund, also a horn player, settled at Hillsborough, Ireland, as pianist and organist, and died there, May 18, 1869.

[ W. H. H. ]