Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Linley, Thomas (1756-1778)

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LINLEY, THOMAS, the younger (1756–1778), violinist and composer, son of Thomas Linley the elder [q. v.], was born at Bath in May 1756. Under his father's instruction he showed at a very early age marked skill on the violin, and at the age of seven was taken as pupil for five years by Dr. Boyce. When eight years old he performed in public, and at the end of his period of tuition with Dr. Boyce he wrote six violin solos, which are dated 1768. In 1770 he went to Florence, where he received lessons on the violin from Nardini, and made the acquaintance of Mozart, who became warmly attached to him. On his return to England in 1773 Linley became leader of the orchestra and solo player at his father's concerts at Bath, and subsequently at the Drury Lane Oratorios. Parke (Musical Memoirs, i. 204) considered him ‘one of the finest violin-players in Europe.’

He was drowned, through the capsizing of a boat, on 5 Aug. 1778, while on a visit to the Duke of Ancaster at Grimsthorpe in Lincolnshire, and was buried in the duke's vault. A portrait of him together with his sister Mary (by Gainsborough) is at Knole, in the possession of Lord Sackville.

Linley's compositions include: An anthem with orchestral accompaniment, ‘Let God arise!’ written for the Worcester festival of 1773; the overture, a duet, trio, and three or four airs for the ‘Duenna,’ 1775; a chorus and two songs for the ‘Tempest,’ and an ‘Ode on the Witches and Fairies of Shakspere,’ 1776; a short oratorio, ‘The Song of Moses,’ composed for Drury Lane; additional accompaniments for wind instruments to the music in ‘Macbeth;’ and a glee for five voices, ‘Hark! the Bird's Melodious Strain,’ written at the request of his sister, Mrs. Sheridan, who usually sang the upper part. Most of his musical works were comprised in the posthumous collection of his father's works and his own, published in 1800. There was published anonymously in London, 1778, ‘A Monody (after the manner of Milton's ‘Lycidas’) on the Death of Mr. Linley, who was drowned August 5th, 1778.’

[Grove's Dict. of Music, ii. 144; Fétis's Biog. Univ. des Musiciens, v. 311, 312; Parke's Musical Memoirs, i. 204; Fitzgerald's Lives of the Sheridans, i. 76; Harmonicon for 1825, p. 221; British Museum Catalogues; cf. Egerton MSS. 2492–3.]

R. F. S.