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date: 12 November 2019

Beckford, Williamlocked

  • Linda Troost

Extract

(b Fonthill, Sept 29, 1760; d Bath, May 2, 1844). English writer, patron and amateur composer. He is chiefly remembered as author of the oriental tale Vathek (1786). Although he was an accomplished performer on the harpsichord and pianoforte, it is unlikely that, as he later claimed, Beckford studied with Mozart when both were children. Beckford met Pacchierotti in Italy in 1780; he encouraged the castrato to return to England to sing at the Italian opera and became one of his most important patrons. For Beckford’s coming-of-age party at his Fonthill estate the following year a cantata (Il tributo) composed by Rauzzini was performed by the composer together with Pacchierotti and Tenducci. Beckford provided music for Elizabeth, Lady Craven’s opera The Arcadian Pastoral (1782), which was written for private performance at Queensberry House in London; his other compositions include an Overture du Ballet de Phaeton...

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Music & Letters