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Crotch, William

Crotch, William

Crotch, William , eminent English organist, teacher, and composer; b. Norwich, July 5, 1775; d. Taunton, Dec. 29, 1847. His extraordinary precocity may be measured by the well-authenticated statement (C. Burney, “Account of an Infant Musician/7 Philosophical Transactions, 1779) that when two and a half years old he played on a small organ built by his father, a master carpenter. In Nov. 1778 he began to tour under his mother’s guidance. On Jan. 1, 1779, he played before the king and queen at Buckingham Palace. In 1786 he became assistant to Randall, organist of Trinity and King’s colleges at Cambridge; at 14, he composed an oratorio, The Captivity of Judah (Cambridge, June 4, 1789); he then studied for the ministry (1788–90). Returning to music, he was made organist of Christ Church, Oxford, in 1790. He graduated from Oxford with a Mus.Bac. in 1794, and received a Mus.Doc. in 1799. In 1797 he succeeded Hayes as prof. of music at Oxford and as organist of St. John’s Coll. Crotch lectured in the Music School (1800–04), and in the Royal Institution in London (1804,1805,1807, and again from 1820). He was principal of the new Royal Academy of Music from 1822 to 1832. Crotch was most successful as a composer of oratorios and organ concertos. His finest work was the oratorio Palestine (London, April 21, 1812). His third oratorio, The Captivity of Judah (Oxford, June 10, 1834) should not be confused with his juvenile effort of the same title of 1789. Among his other works were five sonatas for Piano or Harpsichord; anthems: ten (1797–1803), ten (1798), and two (1825); odes; chants; Psalm tunes; hymn tunes; songs. He also brought out Specimens of Various Styles of Music (c. 1808–15) and various manuals, including Elements of Musical Composition (London, 1812; second ed., 1856). In addition, Crotch revealed talent as a painter.


J. Rennert, W. C. (London, 1975).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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