Sullivan, Sir Arthur (Seymour )
- Arthur Jacobs
(b Lambeth, London, May 13, 1842; d London, Nov 22, 1900). English composer and conductor of mainly Irish descent. His maternal grandmother was Italian; suggestions of a partly Jewish descent are unsupported by evidence. Though he composed in a great variety of musical genres, his widest and most durable fame was won in operetta, especially in partnership with the dramatist and satirist W.S. Gilbert (1836–1911).
During Sullivan's infancy the family moved from London to Sandhurst, where his father, Thomas Sullivan, was sergeant bandmaster at the Royal Military College (1845–56). Sullivan gained from this move an early intimacy with wind instruments; he also learnt the piano and, at about eight years old, began to compose. His exceptional singing voice won him admission to the Chapel Royal (1854–7), despite his being about two years older than most boys on entry. The musical tuition and quasi-parental authority of the master of the choristers, Thomas Helmore (at whose house they lived), were of the utmost value to him. While still a chorister he became in ...