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Robert Stevenson

(b Planes, Alicante, Feb 15, 1740; d Rome, Jan 12, 1817). Spanish literary historian and music critic. He was professed in the Society of Jesus on 24 December 1754 and studied at Tarragona, Manresa, Gerona and Valencia from 1754 until 1763, when he was ordained a priest. Four years later, while teaching rhetoric and poetry at the University of Gandía, he was exiled with the rest of the Spanish Jesuits. He went first to Corsica, then to Italy, where he taught philosophy at Ferrara until ...

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Curtis Price

(fl 1770–93). Italian librettist and journalist. He was in London by 1769, when he wrote the libretto for Pugnani’s comic opera Nanetta e Lubino. Probably supplementing his income by translating and teaching Italian, Badini wrote a few librettos for the King’s Theatre during the 1770s, including ...

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Iain Fenlon

(b Turin, April 25, 1719; d Marylebone, London, May 5, 1789). Italian man of letters. His Fetonte sulle rive del Po was set by G.A. Giai (1750, Turin). In January 1751 he left Italy, where he had a considerable literary reputation, for an appointment at the Italian Opera in London. Shortly after his arrival he wrote two facetious pamphlets relating to a dispute between the actors and the lessee of the Opera. He adapted selected odes of Horace as a sort of Masonic oratorio. Seeking a composer able to avoid the vocal clichés and long ritornellos of Italian opera and ‘to temper alternately the solemnity of church music with the brilliancy of the theatrical’, Baretti chose Philidor, with whom he discussed ‘every syllable … with respect to the best way of expressing musically the meaning of Horace’. ...

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Jamie C. Kassler

(b London, 1727; d London, March 14, 1800). English lawyer and writer on music. The fourth son of John Shute, 1st Viscount Barrington, he was called to the Bar from the Inner Temple and held public offices between 1751 and 1785. His eldest sister, Sarah, married the amateur musician and music theorist Robert Price. Barrington’s writings on music are remarkable for their observations on two relatively new topics: child music prodigies and animal communication. The former contains valuable firsthand accounts of five ‘infant’ musicians (Mozart, Charles and Samuel Wesley, William Crotch and Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington), and the latter includes an article on birdsong that was cited by Charles Darwin some hundred years later....

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Rudolph Angermüller and Philip E.J. Robinson

(b Paris, Jan 24, 1732; d Paris, May 18, 1799). French writer. The son of a clockmaker, he defended his invention of a watch escapement mechanism against theft by the royal clockmaker Lepaute, whom he replaced at court in 1755. He subsequently became harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV and, thanks to contact with the ...

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Linda Troost

(b ?Dublin, Sept 26, 1733; d ?1808). English playwright of Irish birth. He served in the army before moving to London and drew on his military experience in his libretto for the patriotic afterpiece Thomas and Sally (1760). His successful Covent Garden piece ...

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Mary Cyr

(b Tournon, Sept 10, 1724; d Paris, 1778). French writer. He was the author of a treatise on singing entitled L'art ou les principes philosophiques du chant (Paris, 1756). He was not a musician; he referred to himself as ‘un homme de lettres amateur’. His work is largely concerned with physical aspects of singing, such as sound production and breathing, based upon the earlier work of a physician and anatomist, Antoine Ferrein (...

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Thomas Bauman

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], Nov 15, 1735; d Berlin, Nov 10, 1799). German playwright. He fled his family business at the age of 18 and eventually joined an itinerant theatrical company. He was an indifferent actor but won considerable popularity as a playwright. In ...

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Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, Feb 4, 1723; d London, Aug 4, 1792). English dramatist . ‘Gentleman Johnny’ Burgoyne, the English general forced to surrender to the Americans at Saratoga (1777), was the librettist of William Jackson’s only successful opera, The Lord of the Manor...

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Richard Taruskin

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], 21 April/May 2, 1729; d Tsarskoye Selo, 6/Nov 17, 1796). Empress of Russia. She acceded in 1762 following a palace coup against her husband Peter III, and became known as ‘Catherine the Great’. Continuing the policy of her predecessors, the empresses Anna (reigned ...

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(b Paris, May 5, 1734; d Paris, Oct 24, 1788). French writer on music. A soldier and administrator by profession, he consorted with artists and philosophers (he was one of the celebrated circle of Mlle de Lespinasse) and was elected to the Académie Française in ...

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Jamie C. Kassler

(b Norwich, 1722/3; d Onehouse, Suffolk, April 8, 1797). English divine and writer. He was educated at Caius College, Cambridge, and held appointments as rector in East Anglia. About 1766–7 Davy studied music theory with a ‘Mr S.’, whom he hoped would set the texts Davy had written in ...

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Howard Serwer

(b Garmissen, nr Hildesheim, Nov 20, 1741; d Hamburg, June 30, 1817). German writer on music and translator. He studied theology at Göttingen and, although he was deaf, became a teacher at the Hamburg Handlungsakademie in 1769 and professor of history and Greek at the Gymnasium in ...

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(b Neuchâtel, 23orNov 24, 1733; d Paris, July 15, 1815). Swiss writer on music. A journey to Italy in the early 1750s was formative in shaping his taste for Italian opera. He then moved to Paris, where he frequented literary-philosophical circles, and in ...

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Michael Kassler

(b Woburn, Beds., Sept 24, 1766; d London, Jan 6, 1826). English geologist and writer on music. He was a tenor in the Surrey Chapel Society which met weekly in Southwark to practise sacred music. In 1791, when that society became part of the Choral Fund, Farey served as secretary and librarian and became acquainted ‘with numbers of the most eminent’ practitioners of music. The next year he returned to Woburn as the Duke of Bedford’s land steward and warden of Woburn parish church; from ...

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(b Casdemiro, Orense, Oct 8, 1676; d Oviedo, Sept 26, 1764). Spanish essayist. A Benedictine monk, he settled in Oviedo in 1709, teaching theology at the university and later serving as abbot in the monastery of his order. His major works are two series of essays on a wide variety of subjects: ...

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Philip Weller

(b Neuchâtel; fl 1770s). Swiss writer on music. Like Escherny he moved to Paris, where he frequented the literary and intellectual circles of the Encyclopedists and philosophes. In 1772 he published his long Traité du mélodrame; its immediate occasion was the rebuttal of views expressed in ...

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(b Tondern, Jan 3, 1727; d Altona, Nov 1, 1823). German poet, critic and musician. From 1757 he studied law at Jena, where inspired by such literary associates as Claudius, Münter and J.L. Schlosser he began his own poetic creations. In 1759, after the considerable success of his dramatic poem ...

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Edward Olleson

(b Stuttgart, Jan 8, 1769; d Vienna, April 9, 1845). German diplomat and writer. He was Haydn’s biographer and confidant. He went to Vienna in 1799 as tutor to the son of the Saxon ambassador and spent most of the rest of his life there, rising to become Saxon chargé-d’affaires to the imperial court in ...

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(b Regensburg, Dec 26, 1723; d Gotha, Dec 19, 1807). German critic and diplomat. He was active in Paris from 1750 to the Revolution. A disciple of Gottsched, he studied at Leipzig and published a five-act tragedy, Banise, at the age of 20. His extensive training in literature was not complemented by any formal training in music. As secretary to Count Friese of Saxony he went to Dresden in ...