Greene, Maurice (DNB00)

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GREENE, MAURICE (1696?–1755), musical composer, son of Thomas Greene, D.D., vicar of St. Olave, Jewry, and St. Martin, Ironmonger Lane, and grandson of John Green, recorder of London, was born in London. He was educated in music successively by Charles King, who was then in the choir of St. Paul's, and Richard Brind, the cathedral organist [q. v.] To the latter he was articled until 1716, when, although not twenty years of age, he became organist to St. Dunstan's-in-the-West, Fleet Street, through the influence of his uncle, Sergeant Greene (Burney, &c.) In December 1717 he was elected organist of St. Andrew's, Holborn, succeeding Daniel Purcell, who was dismissed in February of that year, and died in 1718. Both appointments were resigned by Green when, on the death of Brind in 1718, he became organist of St. Paul's, receiving the stipend of a lay-vicar in addition to the organist's salary, an augmentation procured for him by Dean Godolphin. On 4 Sept. 1727 he was appointed organist and composer to the Chapel Royal, in place of Dr. Croft, who had died in the previous month. It is said that his friend the Countess of Peterborough, formerly Anastasia Robinson, procured him this post. Soon afterwards he married Mary Dillingham of Hampton, Middlesex, who was related to the wife of Charles King and to Jeremiah Clark [q. v.] She and her sister kept a milliner's shop in Paternoster Row. They were probably connected with the family of Theophilus Dillingham [q. v.] (Chester, Westminster Abbey Registers, p. 84).

Greene succeeded Tudway as professor of music at Cambridge in 1730. At the same time he accumulated the degrees of bachelor and doctor of music. His exercise was a setting of Pope's 'Ode on St. Cecilia's Day,' performed 6 July. The words were abbreviated, and a new verse was specially written for him by Pope. On the death of John Eccles [q. v.] in 1735 he was appointed master of the king's band of music. He thus held, before he was forty years of age, all the chief musical appointments in the country. Greene had been an ardent admirer of Handel when that master first came to England, and became intimate with him, it is said, through procuring for him, even before he himself became organist, facilities for playing on the cathedral organ at St. Paul's. But Greene was also friendly with Buononcini, and did not abandon the intimacy at the time of Buononcini's famous quarrel with Handel. Handel was accordingly furious with Greene, who thereupon openly espoused Buononcini's cause. In order apparently to injure Handel by fair means or foul, Greene assisted Buononcini in palming off upon the Academy of Ancient Music a madrigal, 'In una siepe ombrosa,' as his own, which was some time afterwards (in 1731) discovered in a printed collection of works by Lotti (see Letters from the Academy of Antient Music to Lotti, printed by G. James, 1732). At an earlier date (1728) Greene had seceded from the Academy. Taking with him the boys from St. Paul's, he founded a new, and as it proved a very short-lived, concert society at the Devil Tavern in Fleet Street. An obvious pleasantry on the name of the new concert room is attributed to Handel. In 1738 Greene was engaged in a more generous undertaking, the foundation of the Royal Society of Musicians [see Festing, Michael Christian]. In 1750 the estate of Bois Hall in Essex was bequeathed to him by the natural son of his uncle, Sergeant Greene; it was worth 700l. a year, and the composer devoted the remainder of his life to collecting and editing a large number of services and anthems, and other music, both English and foreign. Shortly before his death he consigned the results of his labours to his friend and pupil, Dr. Boyce, and they became the groundwork of that composer's famous collection of cathedral music.

The registers of St. Olave's, Jewry, show that Greene was buried in the ministers' vault there on 10 Dec. 1755. When this church was demolished in 1888, Greene's remains were, at the suggestion of Mr. W. H. Cummings, removed to St. Paul's, and laid beside those of Dr. Boyce (18 May 1888). The inscription upon the leaden coffin is undoubtedly correct, giving the date of death as 1 Dec. 1755. The books of the vicars choral are stated to give the date as 3 Dec. Greene left one daughter, married to the Rev. Michael Festing, rector of Wyke Regis, Dorsetshire, and son of his old friend, Michael Christian Festing, whose descendants are still living.

Greene's works are: 1. The ‘Ode’ of 1730, already mentioned; a duet from it is printed in Hawkins's ‘History.’ 2. ‘Twelve Voluntarys for the Organ or Harpsichord.’ 3. Several voluntaries in a collection ‘by Dr. Greene, Mr. Travers, and several other eminent masters.’ 4. The ‘Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord,’ published by John Johnson, had, according to Hawkins, been issued in an incorrect form by Wright, a publisher ‘who printed nothing that he did not steal.’ The same authority states that the pieces were an early work of Greene's. 5. ‘The Song of Deborah’ (paraphrased), 1732; there is no doubt that it suggested the subject of Handel's famous oratorio (see Chrysande, Handel, ii. 281). 6. ‘Catches and Canons for three and four voices’ (Walsh); the book contains several cantatas written for special occasions, among them one apparently on the marriage (14 March 1734) of the Princess Anne, daughter of George II, with William, prince of Orange, and another evidently referring to the marriage of Frederick, prince of Wales (27 April 1736). 7. A Te Deum mentioned in the ‘Daily Gazetteer,’ 18 Feb. 1736. 8. ‘Jephthah,’ oratorio, 1737. 9. ‘Love's Revenge, or Florimel and Myrtillo,’ set to words by Greene's friend, John Hoadly (1711-1776) [q. v.], in 1737 (?), and performed at the Gloucester festival, 1745. 10. Service in C, composed 1737 (printed, together with five of his anthems, in Arnold's ‘Cathedral Music’). 11. ‘The Judgment of Hercules,’ a masque, 1740. 12. A cantata and four English songs, in two books, 1742 (one of the songs is the beautiful and justly celebrated ‘Go, Rose,’ often reprinted, as in the ‘Harmonicon,’ vol. iv.) 13. Six solo anthems (Walsh); all of these, with the exception of ‘Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving,’ are in 14. ‘Forty Select Anthems in score’ (Walsh), 2 vols., dedicated to the king, 1743; seven of these are printed in Page's ‘Harmonia Sacra,’ and elsewhere, and a few of them, such as ‘God is our hope and strength,’ ‘I will sing of Thy power,’ ‘Lord, let me know mine end,’ ‘O, clap your hands,’ &c., still keep their place in cathedral services. 15. ‘The Force of Truth,’ oratorio, 1744. 16. ‘Phœbe,’ a pastoral opera, 1748. 17. Addison's ode, ‘The Spacious Firmament.’ 18. ‘Spenser's Amoretti,’ twenty-five sonnets set to music, and dedicated to the composer's patroness, the Duchess of Newcastle (Walsh). 19. ‘The Chaplet,’ twelve English songs. Many other songs were printed separately in broadsheets, &c. 20. Nine anthems, published early in the present century, principally from manuscripts.

In his criticism of this composer's works Burney was singularly unfortunate, for so far from showing the influence of Handel or the Italian opera to any appreciable extent, the best of them are thoroughly English in character and style, and his ballads, such as ‘Go, Rose,’ and ‘The Bonny Sailor,’ have a perfect right to be included in all collections of national music. In these and in his anthems his melodies are always natural and flowing, while in the latter especially there is no lack of scientific skill or earnestness of purpose. As an organ-player he was distinguished for his prominent use of solo stops, at that time an important innovation. His fame was not confined to England alone, for Mattheson, in his ‘Vollkommene Capellmeister’ (Hamburg, 1739), mentions him among the eminent organists of Europe, a compliment he pays to no other Englishman. A full-length portrait of Greene by Hayman, taken with his friend Hoadly, is in the possession of J. E. Street, esq.

[Grove's Dict. i. 624, iv. 654; Hawkins's Hist. of Music, ed. 1853, pp. 800, 859, 879, 909; Burney's Hist. iii. 614, &c.; The Georgian Era; Gent. Mag. December 1755 (in which the date of death is given as 1 Dec.); Busby's Concert-room Anecdotes; Miss L. M. Hawkins's Anecdotes, vol. i. (of continuation), p. 336; Lysons's Annals of the Three Choirs; Cheque Book of the Chapel Royal, communicated by Mr. W. Barclay Squire; Add. MSS. in Brit. Mus. 17820, 31462, 31821; Brit. Mus. Catal.; Chester's Westminster Abbey Registers, p. 84; London Marriage Licences; Mattheson's Vollkommene Capellmeister, p. 479; Musical Times for June 1888, giving a report of the proceedings at the re-interment of Greene.]

J. A. F. M.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.141
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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64 ii l.l. Greene, Maurice: for Chrysande read Chrysander