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date: 19 October 2019

Callcott, John Walllocked

  • Nicholas Temperley

Extract

(b Kensington, London, Nov 20, 1766; d Bristol, May 15, 1821). English composer and theorist. Entering music as a largely self-taught amateur, he became a popular glee composer and a respected authority on music theory.

He was the son of a builder, Thomas Callcott, by his second wife, Charlotte Wall, and was educated at a private school by William Young; he was a brilliant student of classics, Hebrew and philosophy. Until he was 13 it was planned that he should become a surgeon, but he was so disgusted by witnessing an operation that he gave up this idea. He had learnt something of music from Henry Whitney, organist of Kensington parish church, and he began to practise the organ seriously while continuing to pursue, untaught, the study of languages and mathematics. He also learnt to play the clarinet and the oboe, and began to compose. In 1782 he became acquainted with Samuel Arnold and Benjamin Cooke, who encouraged him to enter the profession; the next year he became assistant organist of St George’s, Bloomsbury. Through Cooke he was admitted as a ‘supernumerary hautboy’ at the concerts of the Academy of Ancient Music. From this time onwards his efforts in composition were mainly devoted to the glee. His first glee, ...

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