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Nicholas Temperley

(bap. Aldersgate, London, Feb 26, 1724; d London, April 15, 1764). English amateur musician. ‘In his younger days he was a great beau’, said Hawkins, who is the chief source of information about Immyns. ‘He had been guilty of some indiscretions, which proved an effectual bar to success in his profession, and reduced him to the necessity of becoming a clerk to an attorney in the city’. He cultivated music assiduously, playing the flute, viola da gamba and harpsichord, and had a ‘cracked counter-tenor voice’. As a member of the Academy of Ancient Music, and as a student and copyist to Pepusch, he became familiar with much old music, which he preferred to that of his own day. In 1741 he founded the Madrigal Society, which began as a small group of mechanics and tradesmen experienced in psalmody, meeting at a tavern in Fleet Street. Immyns was ‘both their president and instructor’, and in preparation for the meetings he copied out some 200 madrigals and canons: his MS survives at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. The music was confined to madrigals and other old music, by such composers as Ruffo, Lassus, Marenzio, Vecchi and Gesualdo; the English madrigalists were also explored. Immyns copied seven Palestrina motets for the society's use. From these modest beginnings sprang what is now the oldest musical association in existence....