Thomas Augustine Arne

Thomas Augustine Arne, one of the best known English composers, was born in London, 1710. He was the son of a paper hanger, and educated at Eton. His father destined him for the profession of law; but his inclination for music prevented his complying with his father’s wishes.

Thomas Augustine Arne

Thomas Augustine Arne

He gave himself up to the study of the violin, piano, and composition. His first essay was a farce entitled “Tom Thumb,” which was performed at the Haymarket Theatre in 1733. His “Comus,” which soon followed, was considered an excellent production.

In 1740 he married Cecilia Young, pupil of Gemeniani, a distinguished singer of the Drury Lane Theatre. Both were favorably received in Ireland, where they remained two years. On their return to London, Arne was composer for, and his wife singer at, Drury Lane.

In 1759 the title of Doctor of Music was conferred on him at Oxford. His operas were very successful. He also composed some oratorios, which, of course, could not compare with those of the immortal Handel. Of his twenty five operas, we will only mention “Zara,” “Don Saverio,” “King Arthur,” and “The Guardian Outwitted.” His oratorios are “Alfred,” “Judith,” and “Trip to Portsmouth.” Besides the above, he composed many songs, among which is the well know “Rule Britannia.”

Madame Arne died about 1765; her husband followed her in 1778.