Online Encyclopedia

SAMUEL WESLEY (1766-1837)

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 530 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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SAMUEL WESLEY (1766-1837), English musical composer, son of Charles Wesley (see above), was born at Bristol on the 24th of February 1766, and developed so precocious a talent for music that at three years old he played the organ and at eight composed an oratorio entitled Ruth—a fact which is duly chronicled on a curious portrait, painted in 1774, and afterwards engraved, wherein he is represented in the childish costume of the period. Though suffering for many years from an accidental injury to the brain, Wesley was long regarded as the most brilliant organist and the most accomplished extempore fugue-player in England. He may indeed be regarded as the father of modern organ-playing, for he it was who, aided by his friends Benjamin Jacob and C. F. Horn, first introduced the works of Sebastian Bach to English organists, not only by his superb playing, but by editing with Horn, in 18ro, the first copy of Das wohltemperirte Clavier ever printed in England. Wesley's last performance took place on the 12th of September 1837 at Christ Church, Newgate Street, London, where, after hearing the wonderful performances of Mendelssohn, he was himself induced to play an extempore fugue. He died on the 11th of October 1837, leaving a vast number of MS. and printed compositions. His brother Charles (1757–1815) was also an accomplished organist, and still more famous was his son, Samuel Sebastian (q.v.).
End of Article: SAMUEL WESLEY (1766-1837)
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