Dibdin, Charles


Composer and writer, who was born at Dibdin, near Southampton, England, and studied music at Winchester College, under Kent and Fussell. He appeared at Richmond and Birmingham as an actor and went to London, where in 1765 he was employed by Bickerstaff as composer and singer. He then renounced the stage and began giving medley monodramas in London in 1788. Dibdin, according to his son, who wrote his biography, was the composer of over 1300 songs, and in addition wrote the music in his entertainments. Of these a few are heard now and then, including The Waterman, popularized by Sims Reeves, Poor Jack, and Tom Bowling. Among his most popular works are the music dramas, Shepherd's Artifice; Love In the City; Damon and Phillida; Padlock; and numerous others. His literary works include Music Epitomized, a schoolbook in which the whole science of music is explained; a didactic poem in three parts, and a history of the stage in five volumes. Mr. Dibdin also wrote a history of his professional life in four volumes with the words of 600 songs selected from his works. It was published in 1803. His songs, in chronological order with notes and memoirs, were arranged by George Hogarth, in 1842, in two volumes. He was most successful in hitting off the lights and shadows of a sea-faring life and his songs rank with the best folk-music.