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Burney, Charles

Burney, Charles (1726–1814). Musical historian, composer, and organist, Burney was educated in his birthplace Shrewsbury and in Chester. In 1744 he went to London as apprentice to Thomas Arne, the composer of ‘Rule Britannia’, through whom he met Handel. In 1746 Burney was introduced to Fulke Greville, who bought out his apprenticeship, enabling him to continue his studies and develop his career as an organist and composer. He obtained an Oxford doctorate in 1769. Burney travelled widely in Europe, researching his History of Music, published between 1776 and 1789. The entertaining account of his travels (1773) established his literary reputation and helped ensure the success of the History in the face of competition from a similar work by Sir John Hawkins. His biography, written by his daughter Fanny, incorporating some of his memoirs, was published in 1832.

June Cochrane

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Burney, Charles

Burney, Charles (b Shrewsbury, 1726; d London, 1814). Eng. organist (London churches, King's Lynn, finally Chelsea Hospital); minor composer; author of History of Music (4 vols., 1776–89), of 2 books narrating his travel experiences in Fr., It., Ger., etc., also of a life of Metastasio. Friend of and greatly esteemed by Johnson, Garrick, Reynolds, Burke, and other leaders of politics, science, art, literature, and social life of his period. Haydn, on his two visits to London, spent much time with him. Father of the novelists Fanny and Sarah Harriet Burney, of the writer on South Sea exploration, Rear-Admiral James Burney (one of Cook's officers in his circumnavigation), and of the Gr. scholar, Charles Burney, jun.

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Burney, Charles

Charles Burney, 1726–1814, English music historian, composer, and organist. His General History of Music (1776–89; 2d ed. 1935) was one of the first important music histories in English. He wrote The Present State of Music in France and Italy (1771) and The Present State of Music in Germany (1773). They were published together as Dr. Burney's Musical Tours in Europe (1959). The work describes European society, life, and customs as well as music and important musicians. His daughter, Fanny Burney, compiled his memoirs (1832).

See biographies by P. A. Scholes (1848) and R. H. Lonsdale (1965).

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