Macfarren, Sir George Alexander, 1813-1887 (Knight, musical composer)
Sir George Alexander Macfarren (1813-1887), composer, the son of George Macfarren (1788-1843), a dancing-master, dramatist, and impresario, and his wife, Elizabeth, née Jackson (b. 1792), was born at 24 Villiers Street, Strand, London, on Shrove Tuesday 2 March 1813. Walter Cecil MacFarren (1826-1905) was his brother. In August 1820 he was sent to Dr Nicholas's school in Ealing, where his father taught dancing for many years. He was a delicate child, suffering especially from poor eyesight, which was later to result in total blindness, and in 1823 was removed from school to undergo a course of eye treatment. His general education then continued at Lancing School for some eighteen months; his musical education he received primarily from his father until, in March 1827, he became a pupil of Charles Lucas. From 1829 he attended the Royal Academy of Music, studying composition with Cipriani Potter, piano with William Henry Holmes, and, as a second instrument, trombone with Smithies. While at the academy he formed friendships with William Sterndale Bennett, James William Davison, and other musicians of the same generation who shared an interest in the most recent developments in German music. This influence made itself strongly apparent in his compositions of these years, and like Bennett he devoted himself at an early stage to symphonic music. A symphony in C was performed at an academy concert in September 1830 and another in D minor was played there in December 1831. Macfarren made his first important public début as a composer with an overture in D written for the opening, under his father's management, of the Queen's Theatre in Tottenham Street in 1831, and the following year he provided music for the play The Maid of Switzerland. On 24 June 1833 he received the academy's bronze medal for composition and progress in piano playing, and two days later another of his overtures was given at an academy concert; it was perhaps this work that appeared on the programme of Paganini's concert at Drury Lane on 17 July 1833 as 'grand overture'. He married Natalia Andrae (1828-1916), contralto, and was Professor of Music at Cambridge, 1875-87.
Found in 2 Collections and/or Records:
Sir George and Lady Macfarren: Letters to George H. Robinson and Mrs. Robinson, 2 Nov. 1886-21 Nov. 1886 (Circa)
Artificial collection of single item or small collection accessions. Mainly correspondence but includes other papers.
Ludwig van Beethoven, overture to 'Die Geschöpfe des Prometheus' (Men of Prometheus), op.43, copy in score by Macfarren