Baker, Benjamin Franklin


American vocalist and music teacher. Born in Wenham, Mass. When he was eleven years old, his parents moved to Salem and at fourteen, he entered the choir of a Presbyterian Church in that city. After living in Boston from 1828 to 1833 he went to Bangor, Maine, where he went into business, but he still kept up his interest in music and in 1836 returned to  Boston and studied with John Paddon, singing at the same time in a church choir. The next year he took charge of the music in Dr. Channing's church. In 1841 he succeeded Lowell Mason, as teacher of music, in the Public Schools of Boston and was chosen vice-president of the Handel and Haydn Society. During the six years that he held this position he appeared as soloist at many of the concerts. In 1847 Mr. Baker began the work of establishing a school of music in Boston. This work was finished in 1851, when the Boston Music School was founded, with Mr. Baker as principal and head of the vocal department. This school was an important factor in the development of music in the United States. It was closed in 1868 and Mr. Baker retired from active work. Baker's compositions are entirely vocal. The best of them are two quartets, Stars of the Summer Night, and Death of Osceola; an Ave Maria; the three cantatas, The Storm King; The Burning Ship; and Camillus, the Roman Conqueror. He also wrote many other quartets, anthems and songs and a book on Thorough Bass and Harmony.