Attwood, Thomas

1765 or 1767-1838

Distinguished composer and organist. He entered the Chapel Royal as chorister at the age of nine and remained there five years. At sixteen he attracted the attention of the Prince of Wales, afterwards George IV., and was sent by him to Italy for study. After working at Naples for two years he went to Vienna, and studied with Mozart, who considered him very talented. In 1787 he returned to England where he became organist of a large London church, was a member of the Prince of Wales' band and teacher of several members of the royal family. In 1796 he was made organist of St. Paul's Cathedral and in the same year was appointed composer to the Chapel Royal. In 1821 he became organist of George IV.'s private chapel and in 1836 of the Chapel Royal. Attwood was a charter member of the Philharmonic Society and was made a professor at the Royal Academy of Music when it was founded in 1823. When he died he was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral, under the organ. Attwood enjoyed the friendship of both Mozart and Mendelssohn. His work as a composer seems to have been done in two divisions, the opera occupying his earlier life and sacred music his later years. His operas, nineteen in number, are almost forgotten and his fame rests on his church music, which consists of many services and anthems, the best known of which are I was Glad, written for the coronation of George IV.; and O Lord, Grant the King a Long Life, written for William IV. He also wrote a great number of songs and glees. The Soldier's Dream, a song, became very popular and two of his glees, In Peace Love Tunes the Shepherd's Reed; and To All that Breathe the Air of Heaven, are still known and admired.