Arnold, Samuel


b London 1740, d Westminster, London (Middx) 1802. A boy chorister at the Chapel Royal c1750–58, he had ambitions to be an operatic composer and wrote for the Covent Garden Theatre including an opera, to which others were added later; he was conductor at the Academy of Ancient Music and proprietor of the Marylebone Gardens concerts, precursors of ‘the Proms’. This, however, led him into financial difficulties caused by a dishonest staff member, and in 1783 he returned to the Chapel Royal as organist, harpsichordist and composer. Ten years later he became Westminster Abbey’s organist, and gained such prowess that he was offered the Oxford MusB and MusD without examination. He declined, preferring to earn his degrees, but his submissions were not after all examined in view of his musical eminence and he was given the awards anyway. In 1790 he published Cathedral Music (a 4-vol continuation of the work of Wm Boyce, (1710–79), and in 1791 with Calcott, the metrical The Psalms of David for the Use of Parish Churches. At George III’s request he edited the works of Handel in 36 vols. With hindsight, his popular anti-slavery opera Inkle and Yarico may be seen as a musical and social landmark in 1787. Though composing at great speed and calling himself a ‘musical dilettante’, in style he has been compared to Haydn; he showed skill in employing a wide variety of instruments, sometimes unusual, in his works; his inventions included new styles of pedals, stops and music stands; and he did much for the practical support of musicians in need. He never fully recovered from a fall from his own library steps in 1798. No.652.

Tunes and arrangements by Arnold, Samuel

Tune Name