Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Storace, Stephen

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

STORACE, STEPHEN (1763–1796), musical composer, born in London in 1763, was son of Stephano Storace, and brother of Anna Storace [q. v.] Stephen's progress as a violinist was so rapid that at twelve he was placed in the St. Onofrio Conservatorio at Naples, where he studied for several years. Subsequently he travelled on the continent with his sister Anna. In Vienna he became acquainted with Mozart, but was imprisoned owing to a brawl with an officer, and on being released the Storaces returned in 1787 to England. Stephen, finding no opportunity of earning a livelihood as a musician, taught drawing, but was soon engaged by Linley as composer to Drury Lane, and to superintend the production of opera at the King's Theatre. As a theatrical manager he met with some successes, but was driven to Bath by the intrigue and jealousy of his associates. On his return to London he adapted Dittersdorf's opera ‘Doktor und Apotheker’ for Drury Lane. In 1783 he resumed work for a short time at the King's Theatre, but ultimately devoted himself to Drury Lane, where he produced his first English opera, ‘The Haunted Tower,’ on 24 Nov. 1789, which was an extraordinary success. On 20 Nov. 1792 he scored another triumph with ‘The Pirate’ (libretto by Cobb), the finale to which is considered his best musical effort. In this his sister sang. In the same year he brought out ‘Dido,’ and for the next two and a half years he was constantly engaged in producing new operas, and operas composed of music by himself and others. On 12 March 1796 ‘The Iron Chest,’ by Colman and Storace, was produced, the music making a popular success; but the anxiety and labour attendant on its production at Drury Lane brought to a climax an illness from which Storace had previously suffered. He died in Percy Street, Rathbone Place, on 19 March 1796, leaving a widow, daughter of John Hall (1739–1797) [q. v.] the engraver, and children.

Storace had a good gift for the invention of melody, and many of his compositions enjoyed an enormous vogue at the time of their production. He wrote about twenty operas, and a string quartet, which was played in Vienna by Haydn, Dittersdorf, Mozart, and Vanhall. Sheridan is said to have declared that Storace had a fine literary talent. His ballads are good; one from Hoare's ‘No Song, no Supper’ (1790), has been often reprinted.

[Harmonicon, vi. 1; Kelly's Reminiscences, passim; Parke's Musical Memoirs, vol. i. passim; Colman's Preface to The Iron Chest; Georgian Era, iv. 266; Baker's Biographia Dramatica; Musical World, 1840, p. 212.]

R. H. L.