Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Horsley, Charles Edward

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1397046Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 27 — Horsley, Charles Edward1891Robert Farquharson Sharp ‎

HORSLEY, CHARLES EDWARD (1822–1876), musical composer, son of William Horsley [q. v.], was born in London 16 Dec. 1822. Both his maternal grandfather, Dr. Callcott, and his father were composers. He received his earliest musical training from his father, and, when sufficiently advanced, studied the piano under the guidance of Moscheles. By the advice of Mendelssohn, who during his first visit to England became very intimate with the Horsley family, he was sent to Cassel, where he was under the tuition of Hauptmann. From Cassel he went to Leipzig. There he enjoyed the great advantage of personal instruction from Mendelssohn, and contracted a friendship with the composer Spohr. Horsley wrote, while in Germany, several instrumental works, including a trio for piano, violin, and violoncello, and an overture which was produced at Cassel in 1845.

On his return to England he devoted himself to teaching music, and won considerable distinction as a performer on the piano and the organ. Shortly after he settled in London, at the age of twenty-four, he achieved a success with an oratorio, ‘David;’ and again, three years later, with a second oratorio, ‘Joseph.’ Both works were written for the Liverpool Philharmonic Society. From 19 Sept. 1853 till June 1857 he was organist of St. John's, Notting Hill. In 1854 he composed an anthem for the consecration of Fairfield Church, and in 1860 produced at the Glasgow musical festival a third oratorio, ‘Gideon.’

In 1868 he went to Australia, and lived for some time in Melbourne. For the opening of the Town Hall in that city, in 1870, he wrote an ode, ‘Euterpe,’ for solos, chorus, and orchestra. A selection from this was performed at the Crystal Palace in March 1876. From Melbourne he proceeded to the United States, and died in New York, 28 Feb. 1876.

Besides the compositions already mentioned, Horsley's writings include: music to ‘Comus,’ which was much praised on its production; a song, ‘The Patriot Flag,’ and an anthem written while he was in America; and a number of songs, anthems, pianoforte pieces, and sonatas for piano, piano and flute, and piano and violoncello. He edited a ‘Collection of Glees,’ by his father, in 1873, and his own ‘Text-Book of Harmony’ was published posthumously in London in 1876.

[Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 754; Harper's Weekly Journal, 18 March 1876; information from Mr. J. C. Horsley, R.A.; Vestry Minutes of St. John's, Notting Hill; Cat. of music in Brit. Mus.]

R. F. S.