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Novello, Vincent  

Rosemary Hughes

revised by Fiona M. Palmer

Member of Novello family

(b London, Sept 6, 1781; d Nice, Aug 9, 1861). English organist, choirmaster, conductor, teacher, editor, publisher, composer, collector, and antiquarian. Born at 240 Oxford Street he was the second surviving son of a Piedmontese pastry cook, Giuseppe Novello (1744–1808), who settled in London in 1771 and married the Norfolk-born Joan Wins a year later. Vincent and his brother Francis (1779–1843) studied in Huitmille near Boulogne in the early 1790s. From about 1793 Vincent was a choirboy at London’s Sardinian Embassy chapel under Samuel Webbe’s direction and took organ lessons from him. In c 1797, on Webbe’s recommendation he was appointed organist to the Portuguese Embassy chapel in South Street, Grosvenor Square, where his brother Francis was already principal bass. He held this office until 1824 and made the chapel famous and fashionable partly through regular performances of Haydn’s and Mozart’s masses, with which he had become acquainted through the friendship and fine musical library of the Rev. C.I. Latrobe. These works had not previously been heard in England, and non-Catholics and Catholics alike flocked to hear them; a writer of the 1830s even ranked ‘the introduction of the German masses to the Roman Catholic chapels’ with the foundation of the Philharmonic Society as a major influence in what he called ‘the improvement of our national taste’. Novello was a member of the Philharmonic Society from its foundation in ...