Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Pratt, John (1772-1855)

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PRATT, JOHN (1772–1855), organist, son of Jonas Pratt, music seller and teacher, was born at Cambridge in 1772. In 1780 he was admitted chorister of King's College (Grove). On the death in 1799 of Dr. John Randall [q. v.], Pratt succeeded him as organist to the college. In the same year he was appointed organist to Cambridge University, and in 1813 he held the same post at St. Peter's College. Pratt composed sacred music, including a morning and evening service (Brit. Mus. Addit. MS. 11730), which he declined the risk of publishing. He occupied himself with compilations for the use of choirs in college chapels, and published in 1810 a ‘Psalmody’ which became widely known and generally used. Pratt retired from the active performance of his duties many years before his death, which took place on 9 March 1855, in his eighty-fourth year.

His publications were: 1. ‘A Selection of Ancient and Modern Psalm Tunes arranged and adapted for Two Trebles or Tenors and a Bass for the use of Parish Churches,’ 1810; it was republished about 1820, with new title-page, ‘Psalmodia Cantabrigiensis … for the use of the University Church, Cambridge.’ The appendix contains about twenty psalms and hymns ‘not used at the University Church.’ 2. ‘A Collection of Anthems in Score selected from the Works of Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Clari, Leo, and Carissimi, with a separate arrangement for pianoforte or organ,’ about 1825. 3. ‘Four Double Chants, the Responses to the Commandments, as performed at King's College, Cambridge,’ 8vo, no date (Brown). Some of Pratt's manuscripts are in the Rochester Cathedral library.

[Grove's Dict. ii. 422, iii. 26; Cambridge Chron. 10 March 1855; authorities cited.]

L. M. M.