Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Waley, Simon Waley

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WALEY, SIMON WALEY (1827–1875), amateur musician, born at Stockwell, London, 23 Aug. 1827, was younger son of Solomon Jacob Waley (d. 1864) by his wife Rachel. He became a prominent member of the London Stock Exchange and a leading figure in the Jewish community during the critical period of the emancipation of the Jews from civil disabilities. He took much interest in the subject of international traffic. At the age of sixteen he wrote his first letter on the subject to the ‘Railway Times’ (28 Nov. 1843, p. 1290), and subsequently to 22 May 1847 (p. 716) in the same journal. He contributed many letters to the ‘Times’ under the signature ‘W. London.’ To the ‘Daily News’ of 14 Oct. 1858, et seq., he wrote a series of sprightly letters on ‘A Tour in Auvergne,’ afterwards largely incorporated into Murray's handbook to France.

Waley was a highly gifted musician as well as a shrewd man of business. He began to compose before he was eleven years old, many of his childish compositions showing great promise. His first published work, ‘L'Arpeggio,’ a pianoforte study, appeared in 1848. He was a pupil of Moscheles, (Sir) William Sterndale Bennett [q. v.], and George Alexander Osborne [q. v.] for the pianoforte, and of William Horsley [q. v.] and Molique for theory and composition. In addition to being a brilliant pianist, Waley became a prolific composer. His published compositions include a pianoforte concerto, two pianoforte trios in B flat and G minor (op. 15 and 20), many piano pieces and songs; some orchestral pieces, &c., still in manuscript. One of his finest works is a setting of Psalms cxvii. and cxviii. for the synagogue service.

Waley died at 22 Devonshire Place, London, on 30 Dec. 1875, and was buried at the Jewish cemetery, Ball's Pond. He married Anna, daughter of P. J. Salomons, by whom he had eight children.

[Jewish Chronicle, 7 and 21 Jan. 1876; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, iv. 376; Brit. Mus. Cat.; private information.]

F. G. E.