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William Horsley (1774-1858)
William Horsley (1774-1858) was an English composer and organist, born in Mayfair, London, England.
He became in 1790 the pupil of Theodore Smith and obtained the position of organist at Ely Chapel, Holborn in 1794. This post he resigned in 1798, to become organist at the Asylum for Female Orphans, as assistant to John Wall Callcott, with whom he had long been on terms of personal and artistic intimacy, and whose eldest daughter, Elizabeth Hutchins Callcott (1809 – 1872), he married. In 1802 he took over from Callcott until 1812 when he became in organist of Belgrave Chapel, Halkin Street and later in 1838 of the Charterhouse. He founded the Royal Philharmonic Society in London in 1913, and in later years was a close friend of Felix Mendelssohn.
Horsley’s compositions are numerous, and include amongst other instrumental pieces three symphonies for full orchestra. Infinitely more important are his glees, of which he published five books (1801-1807) besides contributing many detached glees and part songs to various collections. His glees, By Celia’s arbour, O nightingale, Now the storm begins to lower, and others, are considered amongst the finest specimen of this peculiarly English class of compositions.
Horsley’s son Charles Edward also enjoyed a certain reputation as a musician. Another son John Callcott was a painter.
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