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Bristow, George Frederick]

conductor violin composer organist

Bristow, George Frederick, American violinist, organist, conductor, teacher, and composer; b. Brooklyn, Dec. 19, 1825; d. N.Y., Dec. 13, 1898. His father was the clarinetist, conductor, and composer William Richard Bristow (1803–67). He studied piano and violin with his father and W. Musgriff. It is believed that he later received lessons in violin from Ole Bull and in harmony, counterpoint, and orchestration from Henry Charles Timm. At age 13, he became a violinist in the Olympic Theatre Orch. in N.Y. In 1843 he joined the N.Y. Phil, playing in the first violin section until 1879. He also played in the orchs. that accompanied Jenny Lind (1850–51) and Marietta Alboni (1852), and in Jullien’s orch. (1853–54). He was conductor of the N.Y. Harmonic Soc. (1851–63) and the Mendelssohn Soc. (1867–71), and also was active as a church organist and choirmaster. From 1854 he taught in the N.Y. public schools, and also privately. Bristow was notably active in N.Y. in promoting the cause of American music. All the same, his extensive output reflects European models, being well-crafted although lacking in originality. As a pedagogue, he publ. Cantara, or Teacher of Singing (with F. Nash; 1866; 2 nd ed., enl., 1868), George F Bristow’s New and Improved Method for the Reed or Cabinet Organ (1887), and Bristow’s Two-part Vocal Exercises (1890–95).

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