Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Blagrove, Henry Gamble

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BLAGROVE, HENRY GAMBLE (1811–1872), musician, was born at Nottingham 20 Oct. 1811. He was the eldest son of a professor of music, from whom, when only four years old, he received his earliest instruction in the violin. At the age of five he played in public, and in 1817 he appeared as a violinist at Drury Lane Theatre in an entertainment called ' The Liliputians,' as well as in a succession of concerts at the Exhibition Rooms in Spring Gardens. In 1821 he studied with Spagnoletti, and two years later, on the opening of the Royal Academy of Music, he entered that institution, where he became the pupil of Dr. Crotch and F. Cramer. In 1824 Blagrove was awarded a silver medal for his violin-playing, and in 1830 he received the appointment of solo-violinist in the royal private band, a post he held until 1837. Queen Adelaide took great interest in his career, and at her wish he went (in 1832) to Cassel, where he spent two years studying with Spohr. Subsequently he travelled on the continent for some time, playing with great success at Vienna and elsewhere. On his return to England he appeared as a soloist at the Philharmonic concerts, and in 1836 assumed the leadership of a string quartett party, the other members of which were H. Gattie, J. B. Dando, and C. Lucas, who gave a series of admirable concerts at the Hanover Square Rooms. At the coronation of Queen Victoria he led the State band, with which he was connected until his death. At about the same time he gave lessons on the violin to the Duke of Cambridge. On 17 Aug. 1841 Blagrove married Etheldred, daughter of Mr. Henry Combe, by whom he had three children. In the course of his long and brilliant professional career he was successively principal violin in Jullien's band, at both opera houses, at most of the provincial festivals, the Handel celebrations at the Crystal Palace, and the leading musical societies in London, besides teaching the violin at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1858 he was for a short time in Germany, and a few years later he played at the Lower Rhine Festival at Düsseldorf. On 8 Jan. 1869 Mrs. Blagrove died, and before long Blagrove began to show signs of declining health. He still, however, continued occasionally to perform, and in 1872 was presented with a public testimonial in recognition of his merits. In the December following he was seized with paralysis while playing at a private concert, and on the 15th of the same month died at his house, 224 Marylebone Road. He was buried at Kensal Green. Blagrove's published works comprise some valuable exercises and studies for the violin and a few solos. As a performer he ranked among the best of Spohr's pupils, his tone and execution being alike admirable. Personally he was very popular with all with whom he came in contact, and he was a most persevering and successful teacher.

[Information from Mrs. Murray ; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 246 ; Musical Directory for 1874, 8.]

W. B. S.