BEST, William Thomas, was born at Carlisle (where his father was a solicitor), August 13, 1826. He received his first instruction in music from Young, organist of Carlisle Cathedral. He intended to follow the profession of a civil engineer and architect, but that pursuit proving distasteful he (when in Liverpool in 1840) determined to renew his musical studies, and devoted his attention to organ and pianoforte playing. The study of the organ was at that time greatly hindered by its defective construction, the unsuitable pedal compass, and the mode of tuning then in vogue, which rendered the performance of the works of the great organ composers almost an impossibility, whilst the number of professors practically acquainted with the works of Bach was then extremely small. Having determined on a rigid course of self-study, and fortunately obtaining the use of an organ of ameliorated construction, Best spent many years in perfecting himself in the art of organ-playing in all its branches. His first organ appointment was at Pembroke Chapel, Liverpool, in 1840; in 1847 he became organist of the church for the blind in that town, and in the following year organist to the Liverpool Philharmonic Society. In 1852 he came to London as organist of the Panopticon of Science and Art in Leicester Square, and of the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields, and in 1854 was appointed organist of Lincoln's Inn Chapel. He returned to Liverpool in 1855 on receiving the appointment of organist to St. George's Hall. In 1860 he became organist of the parish church of Wallasey, Birkenhead, and in 1863 organist of Holy Trinity Church near Liverpool. In 1868 he was appointed organist of the Musical Society of Liverpool, and in 1872 was reappointed organist to the Liverpool Philharmonic Society. These last two appointments and that at St. George's Hall he still holds. Best has composed several church services, anthems, and hymns, many fugues, sonatas, and other pieces for the organ; ten pianoforte pieces, two overtures, and a march for orchestra. He is also the author of 'The Modern School for the Organ,' 1853, all the examples and studies in which are original, and 'The Art of Organ Playing,' the first and second parts published in 1870, but the third and fourth yet in MS. Best's arrangements for the organ are exceedingly numerous.
[ W. H. H. ]
BEUTLER, Benjamin, born at Mühlhausen near Erfurt 1793; died there 1837; a friend of Forkel, organist of the Marienkirche, and founder of a choral society for men's voices at Mühlhausen (1830). He organised musical festivals in his native town, and established choral practice in the schools, publishing for their use a collection of 'Choral-melodieen für das Mühlhausen Gesangbuch' (Mühlhausen, 1834).
BEVIN, Elway, an eminent theoretical and practical musician, the date of whose birth is unknown. He was of Welsh extraction, and received his musical education under Tallis. According to Wood (Ashmole MS. 8568, 106) he was organist of Bristol Cathedral in 1589. Hawkins says it was upon Tallis's recommendation that he was admitted a gentleman extraordinary of the Chapel Royal, June 3, 1589. But this is an error—he was not admitted until June 3, 1605, at which period Tallis had been dead just upon twenty years. In 1637, on the discovery that Bevin was of the Romish persuasion, he was expelled the chapel. At the same time he forfeited his situation at Bristol. Wood, who states this, refers to the chapter books of Bristol as his authority. His Service in D minor is printed in Barnard's 'Selected Church Musick,' and in Boyce's 'Cathedral Music,' and several anthems of his are extant in MS. But the work by which he is best known is his 'Brief and Short Introduction to the Art of Musicke, to teach how to make Discant of all proportions that are in use: very necessary for all such as are desirous to attaine knowledge in the art, and may by practice, if they can sing, soone be able to compose three, four, and five parts, and also to compose all sorts of canons that are usuall, by these directions, of two or three parts in one upon the plain Song.' London, 1631, 4to. This treatise is dedicated to Dr. Goodman, Bishop of Gloucester, to whom the author says he is 'bound for many favours.' What became of Bevin after his expulsion from his situations, we have not ascertained. (Cheque Book of Chapel Royal, Camd. Soc.)
[ E. F. R. ]
BEXFIELD, William Richard, Mus. Doc., born at Norwich April 27, 1824, and became a chorister of the cathedral under Dr. Buck. After leaving the choir he applied himself to the study of music, in which, although almost self-taught, he attained to considerable skill. He obtained the situation of organist at Boston, Lincolnshire, and in 1846 graduated as Bachelor of Music at Oxford. He lectured on music, and on the death of Dr. Crotch in 1847 became a candidate for the professorship of music at Oxford. In February 1848 he left Boston for London on being appointed organist of St. Helen's, Bishopsgate Street. He proceeded Doctor of Music at Cambridge in 1849.
On Sept. 22, 1852, his oratorio 'Israel restored' was performed at Norwich Musical Festival. Dr. Bexfield died Oct. 29, 1853, at the early age of twenty-nine. A set of organ fugues and a collection of anthems by him were published, besides his Oratorio.
[ W. H. H. ]
BEYER, Ferdinand, born 1803. A fair pianist and tolerable musician, whose reputation rests upon an enormous number of easy arrangements, transcriptions, potpourris, fantasias, divertissements, and the like, such as second-rate dillettanti and music-masters at ladies' schools are pleased to call amusing and instructive. Like publishers of books, music publishers too keep their 'hacks,' and in such capacity Beyer was for many years attached to the firm of Schott and Co. at Mayence, where he died on May 14, 1863.
[ E. D. ]