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  • a.k.a.: Thomas Augustine Arne
  • Nationality: English
  • 1710 - 1778
  • You might know him for: Rule, Britannia!

Thomas Arne, the son of an upholsterer, was born in Covent Garden, London on 12th March 1710. He was educated at Eton and his parents intended him to embark on a career in the law profession. But he secretly learnt to play the violin and keyboard instruments and acquired such skills that his father finally agreed to a musical career. Except for a few music lessons it was his frequent visits of the Opera that shaped his musical orientation.

His first opera “Rosamond” was performed in 1733; it included the bravura air “Rise, Glory Rise” that was sung at theatres and pleasure gardens for more than forty years. This was to happen to many of his compositions – they were popular because of their light, original and appealing melodies, like “Rule Britannia”, the final tune from “Masque of Alfred”. Arne also wrote compositions for many of Shakespeare`s plays like “As You Like It” and “Twelfth Night”.

After returning from Dublin, where he spent two very successful years (1742-44) with his wife Cecilia Young, a well known opera singer, he became composer at the Drury Lane Theatre and also wrote music for the Vauxhall- and Marylebone Gardens. The university of Oxford conferred the degree of Doctor of Music on him in 1759. In the years to follow he composed the operas “Artaxerxes” (1762), which proved that he could also write Italian style music, and the lesser successful “The Guardian Outwitted” (1764) and “Olimpiade” (1765).

During the last decade of his life he gave numerous concerts which often contained glees to demonstrate the singing talents of his pupils. He died on 5. March 1778 in London. His elegant and melodic compositions constitute a very substantial contribution to the English song heritage.

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