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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Russell, Henry

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RUSSELL, Henry, vocalist, b. in Sheerness, Kent, 24 Dec., 1813. He was the son of a Hebrew merchant, and in infancy appeared in Christmas pantomimes. Later he studied music, and subsequently taught. He settled in Rochester. N. Y., in 1843, as teacher of the piano-forte, and became widely known as a composer and vocalist. For years he travelled in this country, giving monologue entertainments of his own composition. He was also engaged for the concerts of oratorio and philharmonic societies, and recited the soliloquies in “Hamlet,” “Richard III.,” and “Macbeth” to his own music. Russell had a heavy baritone voice of small compass, but in declamatory delivery it was highly impressive. On the singer's return to Europe, he appeared in many cities of Great Britain and Ireland to repeat his American success. Finally he retired from the concert-room, and settled in London as an opulent money-lender and bill-broker. All his songs were sold at large prices, and for years returned him a handsome income. They are composed in a manly vein, entirely free from puerile sentimentality, and many of them bid fair to endure for future generations. They include “The Ivy Green,” “The Old Arm-Chair,” “A Life on the Ocean Wave,” “Some love to Roam,” “I'm Afloat,” and “Woodman, spare that Tree.”