Samuel Wesley: The Man and his Music

November 2003
6 black and white, 3 line illustrations
384 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843830313
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press

Samuel Wesley: The Man and his Music

Philip Olleson

A vivid picture of the public and private life of a professional musician in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century London.
This well-documented life of Samuel Wesley gives a vivid picture of the life of a professional musician in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century London. Wesley was born in 1766, the son of the Methodist hymn-writer Charles Wesley and nephew of the preacher John Wesley. He was the finest composer and organist of his generation, but his unconventional behaviour makes him of more than ordinary interest. He lived through a crucial stage of English music from the immediately post-Handel generation to the early Romantic period, and his large output includes piano and organ music, orchestral music, church music, glees, and songs. He also taught and lectured on music, and was involved in journalism, publishing, and promoting the music of J. S. Bach. This book draws on letters, family papers, and other contemporary documents to offer a full study of Wesley, his music, and his life and times.

PHILIP OLLESON is Professor of Historical Musicology at the University of Nottingham. He has edited The Letters of Samuel Wesley: Professional and Social Correspondence, 1797-1837, is the joint author (with Michael Kassler) of Samuel Wesley (1766-1837): A Source Book, and has written extensively about other aspects of music in England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

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Masterful. [...] Both musicologists and historians of the period will find in Olleson's book an exceptionally well-considered discussion of Wesley's life and times, and an extremely valuable addition to research of the period. RECUSANT HISTORY

This is a major study which may be enjoyed on several levels; as a biography, or social commentary, or background to the musical life of Georgian/Regency England, or as informed discussion of the composer's output, and more besides. As a biography, it is a gripping read.... [A] splendid book. THE ORGANIST'S REVIEW

This totally absorbing account, fluently narrated and minutely documented with the help of the prolific letter-writing Wesleys, guarantees a sympathetic hearing for the troubled Samuel. It deserves to be widely read, and not just by musicians, for its intelligent perspective on the consequences for individuals of living through a period of artistic, social and philosophical change. THE MUSICAL TIMES

Not only a scholarly work, but a stonking good read. CLASSICAL TIMES

Philip Olleson's astonishing a fascinating read. THE DELIAN

Strongly recommended to anyone with a serious interest in Wesley or in the period encompassing his life. AD PARNASSUM

Leads the reader carefully through the evolution of Samuel's career, portraying his volatile life and personality candidly and with good taste. [.] Establishes the significance of Wesley's career intelligently. ANGLICAN AND EPISCOPAL HISTORY