THOMAS ATTWOOD (1765-1838), English composer, the son of a coal merchant who had musical tastes, was born in London on the 23rd of November 1765. At the age of nine he became a chorister in the Chapel Royal, where he remained for five years. In 1783 he was sent to study abroad at the expense of the prince of Wales (afterwards George IV.), who had been favourably impressed by his skill at the harpsichord. After spending two years at Naples, Attwood proceeded to Vienna, where he became a favourite pupil of Mozart. On his return to London in 1787 he held for a short time an appointment as one of the chamber musicians to the prince of Wales. In 1796 he was chosen organist of St Paul's, and in the same year he was made composer to the Chapel Royal. His court connexion was further confirmed by his appointment as musical instructor to the duchess of York, and afterwards to the princess of Wales. For the coronation of George IV. he composed the anthem, "The King shall rejoice," a work of high merit. The king, who had neglected him for some years on account of his connexion with the princess of Wales, now restored him to favour, and in 1821 appointed him organist to his private chapel at Brighton. Soon after the institution of the Royal Academy of Music in 1823, Attwood was chosen one of the professors. He was also one of the original members of the Philharmonic Society, founded in 1813. He wrote the anthem, "O Lord, grant the King a Long Life," which was performed at the coronation of William. IV., and he was composing a similar work for the coronation of Queen Victoria when he died at his house in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, on the 24th of March 1838. He was buried under the organ in St Paul's cathedral. His services and anthems were published in a collected form after his death by his pupil Walmisley. Of his secular compositions several songs and glees are well known and popular. The numerous operas which he composed in early life are now practically forgotten. Of his songs the most popular was "The Soldier's Dream," and the best of his glees were "In peace Love tunes the shepherd's reed," and "To all that breathe the air of Heaven." Attwood was a friend of Mendelssohn, for whom he professed an admiration at a time when the young German's talent was little appreciated by the majority of English musicians.
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