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George Grove

Sir George Grove (August 13, 1820 - May 28, 1900), English writer on music, was born at Clapham.

He was articled to a civil engineer, and worked for two years in a factory near Glasgow. In 1841 and 1845 he was employed in the West Indies, erecting lighthouses in Jamaica and Bermuda. In 1849 he became secretary to the Society of Arts, and in 1852 to the Crystal Palace. In this capacity his natural love of music and enthusiasm for the art found a splendid opening, and he threw all the weight of his influence into the task of promoting the best music of all schools in connexion with the weekly and daily concerts at Sydenham, which had a long and honourable career under the direction of Mr (afterwards Sir) August Manns.

Without Sir George Grove that eminent conductor would hardly have succeeded in doing what he did to encourage young composers and to educate the British public in music. Grove's analyses of the Beethoven symphonies, and the other works presented at the concerts, set the pattern of what such things should be; and it was as a result of these, and of the fact that he was editor of Macmillan's Magazine from 1868 to 1883, that the scheme of his famous Dictionary of Music and Musicians, published from 1878 to 1880 (new edition, edited by JA Fuller Maitland, 1904-1907), was conceived and executed. His own articles in that work on Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schubert are monuments of a special kind of learning, and that the rest of the book is a little thrown out of balance owing to their great length is hardly to be regretted.

Long before this he had contributed to the Dictionary of the Bible, and had promoted the foundation of the Palestine Exploration Fund. On a journey to Vienna, undertaken in the company of his lifelong friend, Sir Arthur Sullivan, the important discovery of a large number of compositions by Schubert was made, including the music to Rosamunde. When the Royal College of Music was founded in 1882 he was appointed its first director, receiving the honour of knighthood. He brought the new institution into line with the most useful European conservatoriums. On the completion of the new buildings in 1894 he resigned the directorship, but retained an active interest in the institution to the end of his life. He died at Sydenham on the 28th of May 1900.

His life, a most interesting one, was written by Mr Charles Graves.


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