Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bache, Francis Edward

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BACHE, FRANCIS EDWARD (1833–1858), musician, born 14 Sept. 1833 at Birmingham, was the eldest son of Samuel Bache [q.v.]. From a very early age he showed extraordinary talent for music, learning assiduously the piano, organ, and violin, in the last of which instruments he made such progress under the tuition of Alfred Mellon as to play in the orchestra of the Birmingham festivals of 1846 and 1847. Having determined to adopt music as his profession, he left school in the summer of 1849, and, after studying for a short time with Mr. James Stimpson, came to London, and continued his studies with Sir Sterndale Bennett. In Oct. 1850 he obtained the post of organist at All Saints Church, Gordon Square, and in November of the same year his first overture was performed at the Adelphi Theatre. From 1849 to 1853 he worked hard in London, teaching, studying, and composing numerous pianoforte pieces. In Oct. 1853 he went to Leipzig, Where he remained till the end of the following year, returning to England, after a short stay in Paris, in 1855. He obtained an appointment as organist at Hackney, but he was soon forced by illness to return home. In 1856 Bache went to Algiers, where for a time the consumptive symptoms from which he suffered were arrested. From Algiers he returned by way of Paris to Leipzig, spending the following winter in Rome. In June 1857 he returned home, and spent the next winter at Torquay, but on his return to Birmingham in April 1858 he gradually sank, dying on 24 Aug. of the same year. In estimating Bache's position as a composer, it cannot be denied that as far as regards his published works his promise was greater than his performance; of his unpublished works, which include two complete operas, a polonaise for pianoforte, orchestra, &c., there has been, unfortunately, no opportunity of judging the merits. But though much that he wrote was obviously the ephemeral and immature work of one whose powers were prevented by illness from attaining their full development, yet there are some of his compositions, notably amongst his songs, which show that he was possessed of genius of no mean order, and which will continue to occupy an honoured position amongst the best productions of English musicians.

[The Christian Reformer for December 1858; information from Miss Constance Bache.]

W. B. S.