Grove, Sir George

1820-1900

Eminent writer on music, famous as the editor-in-chief of Grove's Dictionary of Music and Musicians; was born at Clapham, Surrey, England. His mother was a skilled amateur musician, and from her he inherited a love for the art, though his musical studies were pursued only as a side issue, their sole outcome being the development of an appreciative intelligence. He was a most versatile man, and displayed equal energy in several different lines of work. At sixteen he entered upon an apprenticeship in his profession, that of a civil engineer, becoming a graduate of the Institution of Civil Engineers three years later, and practising this profession in various provinces up to 1850, when he was appointed secretary of the Society of Arts. Two years later he accepted the secretaryship of the Crystal Palace, from which time forth he resided at Sydenham, near London. This post brought him in contact with musical affairs; he attended concerts in London, studied the scores of the masters, and from 1856 on, at the instance of August Manns, the conductor of the Crystal Palace Orchestra, contributed analyses to the programs of the Saturday concerts, especially for the works of Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, and Schumann; and the notes of Beethoven's symphonies were ultimately published, somewhat amplified, under the title of Beethoven and his Nine Symphonies, in 1896. In 1860 his account of the Passion Play at Oberammergau was published in the London Times. This was new to London newspaper readers, and attracted attention. Other articles were in demand, and although he wrote on other subjects, the musical field claimed the largest share of his work from about 1869. In 1868 he became the editor of Macmillan's Magazine, and continued his work for fifteen years. In 1873 he was asked to edit the dictionary which bears his name, and resigned his secretaryship to do this, but maintained his association with the Crystal Palace as a member of the Board of Directors, and continued to edit the Saturday concert programs. Honors now came quickly; he received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from the University of Durham, and later of LL.D. from the University of Glasgow. He visited America m 1878, meeting many of the most prominent literary men and scholars of out country, and the next year went to Germany, visiting Berlin and Leipsic chiefly with a view to obtaining the most authentic information possible for his article on Mendelssohn for the dictionary; and in 1887 he was elected to a membership in the Bach Society of Leipsic. Prior to this, however, he had received other honors in England. Early in 1882 he became active in the work of organizing the Royal College of Music, and before the close of the year had been appointed the director of that institution by the Prince of Wales. During the opening ceremonies, in 1883, he was knighted by Queen Victoria. This position he held until his retirement in 1894; and his enthusiasm, energy, and sympathy with earnest effort made him at once an efficient official and the personal friend of the students under him. He continued to contribute to various periodicals, and wrote prefaces to a number of musical works by others. He died at Sydenham.