John Addison, born about 1766, the son of a village mechanic, at an early age displayed a taste for music, and learned to play upon several instruments.
Having, about 1793, married Miss Willems, a niece of Reinhold, the bass singer, a lady possessed of a fine voice and considerable taste, he conceived the idea of pursuing music as a profession. Soon after her marriage Mrs. Addison made a successful appearance at Vauxhall Gardens. Addison then went with his wife to Liverpool, where he entered on his professional career as a performer on the violoncello and subsequently on the double bass, an instrument to which, as an orchestral player, he afterwards confined himself. From Liverpool they went to Dublin, where Addison soon became director of the amateur orchestra of the private theater, and, from having to arrange the music, improved himself in composition.
After fulfilling other engagements in Liverpool and Dublin, Mr. and Mrs. Addison came to London, where, on Sept 17, 1796, the latter appeared at Covent Garden Theatre as Rosetta in ‘Love in a Village’, and afterwards performed other characters. In 1797 they went to Bath, where Mrs. Addison studied under Rauzzini. After a three years’ engagement in Dublin, they proceeded to Manchester, where Addison was induced to abandon the musical profession and embark in the cotton manufacture. In this, however, he was unsuccessful, and soon resumed his profession. After a brief sojourn in the provinces he returned to London, and engaged with Michael Kelly as manager of his much business.
He was also engaged at the Italian Opera and the Ancient and Vocal Concerts as a double bass player. In 1805 he made himself known as a composer, by the music to Skeffington’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’. He afterwards composed several pieces for the Lyceum, and composed and adapted others for Covent Garden Theatre. On March 3, 1815, a short sacred musical drama entitled ‘Elijah raising the Widow’s Son’, adapted by Addison to music by Winder, was produced at Drury Lane Theatre in the series of Lenten oratorios, under the direction of Sir George Smart. Addison next employed himself as a teacher of singing, and in that capacity instructed many singers who maintained very creditable positions in their profession.
He died at an advanced age, on Jan. 30, 1844. His principal dramatic compositions are ‘The Sleeping Beauty’, 1805; ‘The Russian Impostor’, 1809; ‘My Aunt’, 1813; ‘Two Words’, 1816; ‘My Uncle’, 1817; ‘Robinet the Bandit’, ‘Rose d’Amour’, an adaptation of Boieldieu’s opera of that name, 1818. He was one of the six composers who contributed the music to Charles Dibdin the younger’s opera, ‘The Farmer’s Wife’, in 1814.