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Boyce, William
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Boyce, William

(Born; London, bap. 11 Sept 1711; Died; Kensington, 7 Feb 1779). English composer. He was a St Paul's Cathedral chorister and an organ pupil of Maurice Greene, also studying with Pepusch. From 1734 he held organist's posts in London and from 1736 was a composer to the Chapel Royal, writing anthems and services. His oratorio David's Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan (1736) was followed by his first dramatic works, including a short opera, Peleus and Thetis (by1740), The Secular Masque (1746) and the highly successful pastoral The Chaplet (1749), the first of a series of works for Drury Lane theatre. Increasing deafness hindered him - his last stage work was Heart of Oak (1759) - but his output in other vocal genres continued, and as Master of the King's Musick from 1757 he composed over 40 court odes. Among his few instrumental works are 12 trio sonatas (1747), Eight Symphonys (from ode and opera overtures, 1735-41, published 1760) and Twelve Overtures (1770). Boyce was among the finest and most respected English composers of his time, though his Baroque idiom had become old-fashioned by the end of his life. His music has a fresh vigour, especially evident in fugues, dance movements and expressive vocal writing. The owner of a valuable music library, he gained lasting fame for his Cathedral Music (1760-73), an edition of earlier English services by Orlando Gibbons, Purcell and others.

Sacred music: 5 services; Circa; 60 anthems; hymns, sacred partsongs.

Dramatic music: Peleus and Thetis, masque (by 1740); The Chaplet (1749); The Shepherd's Lottery (1751); other stage works.

Other vocal music: David's Lamentation over Saul and Jonathan, oratorio (1736); Solomon, serenata (1742); over 50 birthday and New Year odes; cantatas, songs

Instrumental music: 8 syms. (1760); 12 ovs. (1770); concs.; 12 trio sonatas (1747); kbd voluntaries.

© Groves Dictionaries, MacMillan Publishers Limited, UK

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