Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Attwood, Thomas

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ATTWOOD, THOMAS (1765–1838), musician, born in London, 23 Nov. 1765, was the son of a coal merchant. When nine years old he was admitted as a chorister to the Chapel Royal, where he attracted the attention of the Prince of Wales (George IV), who invited him to Buckingham House, and was so pleased by his pianoforte playing and musical talent that in 1783 he sent him to Naples to study under Cinque and Latilla. From Naples Attwood went (1785) to Vienna, where he studied under Mozart, who expressed a favourable opinion of his talent. He left Vienna in company with the Storaces in February 1787. Shortly after his return to London he was appointed music master to the Duchess of York; he also subsequently occupied the same post with the Duchess of Cumberland and the Princess of Wales. In the following year (1792) he produced a musical afterpiece, 'The Prisoner,' at the Opera House, where the Drury Lane company was then performing. This was the first of several similar pieces he composed; in all his writings for the stage, after the fashion of the time, he eked out his own music by considerable interpolations from the works of other composers, particularly those of Mozart and Cherubini. In 1793 Attwood married Mary, the only child of Matthew Denton, of Stotfold, Bedfordshire. His eldest son, a lieutenant in the army, was assassinated at Madrid in October 1821; another son, after a distinguished career at Cambridge, became in 1837 rector of Framlingham, Suffolk. In 1796, on the death of John Jones, Attwood was appointed organist and vicar choral of St. Paul's, and in June of the same year he succeeded Dr. Dupuis as composer to the Chapel Royal. For the coronation of George IV (19 July 1821) Attwood wrote an anthem, 'I was glad.' In the same year the king appointed him organist of the chapel in the Pavilion, Brighton. He wrote an anthem, 'O Lord, grant the King,' for the coronation of William IV, and had begun another for the coronation of Queen Victoria when he was interrupted by his last illness. On the death of Stafford Smith (1836) he was appointed organist to the Chapel Royal, a post he did not live long to occupy. He was taken ill soon after Christmas 1837, and, preferring some peculiar mode of treating his complaint, neglected the proper remedies, and died at his house, 17 Cheyne Walk, on 24 March 1838. He was buried in St. Paul's on 31 March. Besides the works mentioned above, Attwood wrote some chamber music, many songs, glees, and pianoforte pieces. His music is melodious and graceful, as would be expected from a pupil of Mozart, but it is deficient in individuality and force. During the latter part of his life he made the acquaintance of Mendelssohn, who often stayed with the English composer at his house at Norwood.

[Biog. Dict. S. D. U. K.; Add. MS. 31587; Gent. Mag. for 1821; Annual Register for 1838; Kelly's Reminiscences, i. (1826); Grove's Dictionary, i.]

W. B. S.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.10
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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241 i 5 Attwood, Thomas: after wrote insert other anthems