Lindley, Robert (DNB00)

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LINDLEY, ROBERT (1776–1855), violoncellist, born 4 March 1776, and baptised 12 April, at Rotherham, Yorkshire, was son, according to the parish register, of Shirley Linley of Masbro'. The father was a proficient performer on the violoncello, and began to teach his son the violin at the age of five, and his own instrument at nine years old. It is extremely improbable that he played in the Margate Theatre when eight years old (Musical World, 23 June 1855). This performance, if it took place at all, was possibly after 1792, when he became a pupil of Cervetto, who brought him to the south of England. At the same period Lindley had an engagement at the Brighton Theatre, and while there played before the Prince Regent. In 1794 he succeeded Sperati as principal violoncello at the opera and at all important concerts, and in the following year, or at the end of that year, began an intimacy with Dragonetti, the great double-bass player, which lasted for fifty-two years. They played at the same desk at every orchestral concert of importance, as well as at the opera, and their performance of the accompaniment to the ‘recitativo secco’ from the figured bass was most elaborate and ingenious. Lindley was probably the greatest violoncellist of his time. His firm hand and brilliant full tone were his chief characteristics. His technical ability and his want of deep artistic sense are illustrated by the story that he would occasionally in private play the first violin part of a quartet, or of a Beethoven trio, on his violoncello. As a composer he was less remarkable. His concertos are described by a contemporary critic as ‘peculiar, and suited to every kind of audience,’ and his cadenzas are reproached with exaggeration (Quarterly Musical Review, vi. 480, vii. 12). His works include some thirty-five solos and duets for his own instrument, a trio for bassoon, viola, and violoncello, or two violas and violoncello, a ‘caprice Bohème’ for piano, and a handbook for the violoncello, published in the year of his death. In 1822, on the formation of the Royal Academy of Music, he was appointed one of the first professors. In 1826 he played a ‘concertante’ of his own with his son, William Lindley (1802–1869), a violoncellist of much promise, who was unable to take the position for which he was qualified, owing to extreme nervousness and delicate health. He retired in 1851, and died on 13 June 1855. His daughter married the composer John Barnett.

A portrait of him is stated to have been exhibited soon after his death at Walesby's private gallery of art in Waterloo Place, London.

[Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, ii. 142–3, iii. 455; Quarterly Musical Review. vi. 482, viii. 165, ix. 301, and references given above; parish register of Rotherham, Yorkshire; Musical World, 23 June and 21 July 1855; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

J. A. F. M.