Avison, Charles (DNB00)

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AVISON, CHARLES (1710?–1770), musician, born at Newcastle, studied music in Italy, and on his return to England became a pupil of Geminiani. In 1736 he was appointed organist of St. Nicholas, at Newcastle, in which town he spent the remainder of his life. In 1752 he published his celebrated 'Essay on Musical Expression,' a work which created at the time considerable sensation by the boldness the author displayed in acknowledging his preference for the French and Italian school, and depreciating the Germans, with Handel at their head. The essay was translated into German, and was answered in 1753 by Dr. Hayes's 'Remarks on Mr. Avison's Essay,' which was published anonymously, though the name of the author was an open secret. Avison replied in the same year, but it was generally considered that Hayes had the best of the argument, although Avison's work was superior from a literary point of view. Avison died at Newcastle 9 May 1770, Besides his essay he published several sets of sonatas and concertos, some of which long continued popular, and he also edited an edition in eight volumes of Marcello's Psalms, A life by Avison is prefixed to the first. Very little is known of his life, but he had the reputation of being a man of great culture and polish, and for many years was the chief of a small circle of musical amateurs in the north of England who were devoted to his views,

[Hawkins's History of Music, vol.ii. (ed, 1875); the Georgian Era, vol. iii, 1834; Gent. Mag. for 1808; article by E. Taylor in S. D, U. K. Dictionary.]

W. B. S.