Thomas Attwood

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Attwood, Thomas

Attwood, Thomas, English organist and composer; b. London (baptized), Nov. 23, 1765; d. there, March 24, 1838. At 9, he became a chorister at the Chapel Royal. In 1781 he was made one of the Pages of the Presence to the Prince of Wales, who made it possible for him to study in Naples with Felipe Cinque and Gaetano Latilla (1783–85). He then went to Vienna, where he received composition lessons from Mozart. In 1787 he returned to England and resumed his court position. He was made music teacher to the Duchess of York in 1791 and to the Princess of Wales in 1795. In 1796 he became organist at St. Paul’s Cathedral and composer at the Chapel Royal. In 1813 he helped to organize the Phil. Soc. of London, with which he appeared as a conductor. When the Royal Academy of Music in London was organized in 1823, he was made a prof. In 1825 he became musician-in-ordinary to the king. He was named organist of the Chapel Royal in 1836. Mendelssohn became his close friend, and among his students were his godson, Thomas Attwood Walmisley, George Bridgetower, and Cipriani Potter. As a composer, he was profoundly influenced by his association with Mozart. His output includes music for some 30 stage works, several instrumental pieces, much vocal music, including the fine coronation anthems I was glad (1821) and O Lord, grant the king a long life (1831), a Service in F major, songs, and glees. Walmisley ed. Services and Anthems Composed by T. A. (London, 1852).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

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Attwood, Thomas (1783–1856). Banker, currency reformer, and founder of the Birmingham Political Union, Attwood argued that the economic ills of the nation were caused by hard money, and that the cure lay in an abundant supply of paper currency instead of gold. Although now remembered chiefly for his support of parliamentary reform, he always saw this as secondary to the need for a change in monetary policy. Attwood regarded himself as the representative of the Birmingham ‘industrious’ classes, meaning businessmen, masters, and skilled workers in the small-scale industries of the midlands. This was the basis on which he built the middle–working-class alliance in the BPU in 1830–2, which he attempted (less successfully) to incorporate in 1837 in the early chartist movement. He was returned for Birmingham in the reformed Parliament of 1832 and wrote continuously on monetary reform from 1816 to 1847.

John F. C. Harrison

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Attwood, Thomas (b London, 1765; d London, 1838). Eng. composer and organist. Boy chorister in Chapel Royal; host and friend in London of Mendelssohn; org. St Paul's Cath., 1796–1838 and of Chapel Royal from 1836; composer of th. and church mus. One of first profs. at RAM, 1823. Founder-member of Philharmonic Soc., 1813.