Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/625

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

Festival. She sang after her return from Florence at the Professional concert on Feb. 3 1787, and made her first appearance in oratorio in 1791 at Drury Lane, soon after which she fell into great poverty. About 1817 she published a collection of songs by Hasse and others. During the last years of her life she was assisted by the National Fund, the Royal Society of Musicians, etc. She died July 3, 1836. (Dict. of Nat. Biog.)

[ W. B. S. ]

DAVISON, James William, was born in London, Oct. 5, 1813.[1] He was educated with a view to the Bar, but forsook that career for music, and studied the pianoforte with W. H Holmes, and composition with G. A. Macfarren. His early friends were W. S. Bennett, H. Smart, G. A. Macfarren, T. M. Mudie, E. T. Loder, and other musicians. He composed a great deal for orchestra, piano, and the voice, and will be remembered by some elegant and thoughtful settings of poetry by Keats, Shelley, and others. He made the acquaintance of Mendelssohn during one of his early visits to England, and deepened it in 1836, when, in company with Sterndale Bennett, he attended the production of 'St. Paul' at Düsseldorf.[2] He gradually forsook composition for criticism.[3] In 1842 he started the 'Musical Examiner,' a weekly magazine which lasted two years; and in 1844 succeeded Mr. G. A. Macfarren, sen., as editor of the 'Musical World,' which continued in his hands down to his death. Mr. Davison contributed to the 'Saturday Review' for ten years, and for long to the 'Pall Mall Gazette' and 'Graphic.' But it was as musical critic of the 'Times' that his influence on music was most widely exercised. He joined the staff of that paper in 1846, and his h'rst articles were those on the production of 'Elijah' at the Birmingham Festival of that year. But Mr. Davison's activity in the cause of good music was not confined to newspaper columns. He induced Jullien in 1844 to give classical pieces in his Promenade Concerts. The Monday Popular Concerts, in their present form (see vol. ii. p. 352), were his suggestion; and the important analyses contained in the programme-books were written by him down to his death. So were those for Charles Hallé's recitals, and it is unnecessary to call attention to the vast range of works which these covered. All these efforts were in support of the best and most classical taste; so was his connexion with Miss Arabella Goddard, whose studies he directed from 1850, and who under his advice first made the English public acquainted with Beethoven's Sonatas, ops. 101 to 111 (excepting op. 106, which had been played by Billet), and many another masterpiece. He married Miss Goddard in the spring of 1859, and they had two sons, Henry and Charles.

Mr. Davison's position naturally brought him into contact with all musicians visiting England, and he was more or less intimate with Mendelssohn, Rossini, Auber, Spohr, Meyerbeer, Halévy, Hiller, Berlioz, Ernst, Joachim, Piatti, L. de Meyer, etc., etc., as well as with Jules Janin, Théophile Gautier, and other prominent members of the French press. Among his friends, too, he was proud to number Dickens, Thackeray, Shirley Brooks, and other English literary men.

While adhering, as we have described, to the classical school up to Mendelssohn and Bennett, his attitude to those who came later was full of suspicion and resistance. Of Schumann, Gounod, Liszt, Wagner, and Brahms, he was an uncompromising opponent. In regard to some of them his hostility greatly changed in time, but he was never cordial to any. This arose partly from dislike to their principles of composition, and partly from jealousy for his early favourites. He even resisted the advent of Schubert to the English public on the latter of these grounds, though he was more than reconciled to him afterwards. Certainly his opposition did not proceed from ignorance, for his knowledge of new music was large and intimate. Whether it be a good trait in a critic or not, it is a fact that a nature more affectionate and loyal to his friends never breathed than Mr. Davison's. His increasing age and infirmities at length made him give up the 'Times,' and his last articles appeared Sept. 9–13, 1879. His knowledge was very great, not only of music, but of literature of all ages and schools, especially of the mystic and humorous class; of Burton's 'Anatomy of Melancholy' he was very fond. Among poets, Shelley was his favourite. His knowledge and bis extraordinary memory were as much at the service of his friends as the keen wit and grotesque humour—often Rabelaisian enough—with which he poured them forth. He was very nuch of a Bohemian. An autobiography from his pen would have been invaluable, but he could never be induced to undertake it. He died at Margate March 24, 1885.

[ G. ]

DAY, Alfred. P. 436, l. 20, add date of death, Feb. 11, 1849. (Added in late editions.) Same column, note 1, for Novello & Co. read Harrison & Co., Pall Mall.

DEGREES, MUSICAL. Since the publication of the early part of the Dictionary the regulations as to Musical Degrees at Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin have undergone alterations, and these Degrees have been instituted at the University of London. The following rules are now in force:—

At Cambridge no candidate can be admitted to the examination for the Mus. Bac. degree unless he (a) have passed Parts I and II of the University 'Previous Examination'; or (b) have passed one of the Senior Local Examinations in certain specified subjects; or (c) have passed one of the 'Higher Local Examinations' of

  1. His mother, née Duncan, was an eminent actress, and was chosen by Byron to deliver his monody on Sheridan at Drury Lane theatre.
  2. The overture to the Naiads was sketched in going up the Rhine after the performance.
  3. This was humorously embodied in an epigram by his friend Charles Kenny:—

              'There was a J. W. D.
               Who thought a composer to be:
                  But his muse wouldn't budge.
                  So he set up as judge
               Over better composers than he.'