Boyce, William

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Boyce, William

Boyce, William , significant English organist and composer; b. London (baptized), Sept. 11, 1711; d. Kensington, Feb. 7, 1779. As a youth he was a chorister in St. Paul’s Cathedral under Charles King. He then studied organ with Maurice Greene, the cathedral organist. From 1734 to 1736 he was organist at the Earl of Oxford’s Chapel, then at St. Michael’s, Cornhill, from 1736 to 1768. Concurrently he was named in 1736 composer to the Chapel Royal. In 1759 he was Master of the King’s Musick. An increasing deafness forced him to abandon active musical duties after 1769. His main task consisted in providing sacred works for performance; he also contributed incidental music to theatrical productions. He conducted the Festivals of the Three Choirs (Gloucester, Worcester, Hereford) in 1737, and served as Master of the Royal Band in 1755. His magnum opus was the compilation of the collection Cathedral Music, in 3 vols. (1760, 1768, and 1773; 2nd éd., 1788; later eds., 1844 and 1849). This collection comprises morning and evening services, anthems, and other church music by a number of British composers, namely Aldrich, Batten, Bevin, Blow, Bull, Byrd, Child, Clarke, Creyghton, Croft, Farrant, Gibbons, Goldwin, Henry VIII, Humfrey, Lawes, Locke, Morley, Mundy, Purcell, Rogers, Tallis, Turner, Tye, Weldon, and Wise. Of his own music, there are remarkable instrumental works: 12 overtures (London, 1770; reprinted in Musica Britannica, vol. XIII); 12 sonatas for 2 Violins and Bass (London, 1747); 8 syms. (London, 1760; modern ed. by M. Goberman, Vienna, 1964); 10 voluntaries for Organ or Harpsichord (London, 1779). Two overtures erroneously attributed to Boyce, and publ. in Lambert’s ed. under the titles The Power of Music and Pan and Syrinx, were works by John Stanley, not by Boyce. His stage works include the following, all produced in London: The Chaplet (Dec. 2, 1749), The Roman Father (Feb. 24, 1750; not extant), The Shepherd’s Lottery (Nov. 19, 1751), and Harlequin’s Invasion (with M. Arne and T. Aylward, Dec. 31, 1759). Several of his vocal works were publ in Lyra Britannica (1745–55); there were also 15 anthems (1780) and a collection of anthems (1750), which were republ. in Novello’s ed. in 4 vols.; also, various songs were orig. publ. in the anthologies The British Orpheus, The Vocal Musical Mask, and others.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire

Boyce, William

views updated May 14 2018

Boyce, William (b London, 1711; d London, 1779). Eng. composer and organist. Org. of Earl of Oxford's Chapel, Vere Street, 1734–6, and became known as composer of masques and oratorios. Org., St Michael's, Cornhill, 1736, also becoming composer to Chapel Royal. Appointed cond., 3 Choirs Fest., 1737. Org., Allhallows the Great and Less, Thane Street, 1749. D.Mus., Oxford, 1749. Succeeded Greene as Master of the King's Musick, 1755. Org., Chapel Royal, 1758. Resigned from St Michael's 1768, dismissed from Allhallows 1769. Increasing deafness, which had first manifested itself in his youth, caused him to give up other posts c.1770. Retired to Kensington to edit a coll. of English Cathedral Music, a task projected by Greene who bequeathed to Boyce the material he had collected. Boyce's 3 vols. remained in use for almost 150 years. His comps. incl. masques, odes, ovs., church anthems and services, trio sonatas, and 8 syms. (1760), of which the modern revival is due to the researches and enthusiasm of Constant Lambert. Their dates of comp. are not accurately known. As pubd., the first two date from c.1759, the last four from 1735 to 1741. The song Heart of Oak was comp. by Boyce in 1759, to words by David Garrick, for the pantomime Harlequin's Invasion.

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