- Norris L. Stephens
(b Newcastle upon Tyne, bap. Feb 16, 1709; d Newcastle upon Tyne, 9/May 10, 1770). English composer, conductor, writer on music and organist. He was the most important English concerto composer of the 18th century and an original and influential writer on music.
He was the fifth of nine children born to Richard and Ann Avison. Since his father, a Newcastle town wait, was a practising musician, his musical training probably began at home. Later, while in the service of Ralph Jenison, a patron of the arts and MP for Northumberland from 1724 to 1741, he had opportunity for further study. He had additional support in his musical development from Colonel John Blathwayt (or Blaithwaite), formerly a director of the Royal Academy of Music, the operatic organization in London. There is no evidence that, as has been claimed, Avison went to Italy, but William Hayes and Charles Burney wrote that he studied with Geminiani in London....