Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Gabriel, Mary Ann Virginia

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GABRIEL, afterwards March, MARY ANN VIRGINIA (1825–1877), musical composer, the daughter of Major-general Gabriel, was born at Banstead, Surrey, 7 Feb. 1825. She was the pupil of Pixis, Döhler, and Thalberg, for the pianoforte, and of Molique and Mercadante for composition. Miss Gabriel married George E. March in November 1874, and died, from injuries received in a carriage accident, on 7 Aug. 1877. She had acquired great facility in composition, and published several hundred songs. Those entitled ‘When Sparrows build,’ ‘Ruby,’ ‘Sacred Vows,’ ‘Only,’ ‘The Forsaken,’ ‘Under the Palms,’ and ‘The Skipper and his Boy,’ became extremely popular. These drawing-room ballads may be said to stand midway between the bald jingle favoured by Miss Gabriel's early contemporaries and the attempted intensity of expression belonging to a later date; a music which, in spite of the composer's gifts of knowledge and imagination, does not attain to high artistic merit. Her operetta ‘Widows Bewitched’ was performed by the Bijou Operetta Company at St. George's Hall, 13 Nov. 1867, and held the stage for several weeks. Other similar works, ‘Shepherd of Cournouailles,’ ‘Who's the Heir?’ ‘Lost and Found,’ ‘A Rainy Day,’ about 1873 and 1875, were favourites in the drawing-room. The cantata ‘Dreamland,’ privately printed, was given in London about 1870; ‘Evangeline,’ produced at Kuhe's Brighton festival, 13 Feb. 1873, was very successful, and was heard at Rivière's Covent Garden Concerts of 24 Nov. and 1 Dec. Another cantata, ‘Graziella,’ closes the list of Miss Gabriel's longer compositions.

[Grove's Dictionary, i. 571; Musical World, vols. xlv. and lv.; Musical Times, vol. xviii.; The Choir, xv. 145, xvi. 344, xxii. 492; Music in Brit. Mus. Library.]

L. M. M.