Barnett, John Francis


A gifted English composer and pianist. Son of the late Joseph Alfred Barnett, professor of singing. His first teacher on the piano was his mother, who had been a pupil of Sterndale Bennett, and with her he studied until he was placed under Dr. Wylde. When fourteen years old he won the King's Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, and two years later he won the same scholarship again. He appeared in public for the first time at the New Philharmonic concert, in 1853, when he played Mendelssohn's Concerto in D minor, the celebrated Spohr being the conductor. In 1856 he went to Germany and, after studying privately with Hauptmann for several months, entered the Leipsic Conservatory, where he continued his contrapuntal work with Hauptmann, studied composition with Julius Rietz and the piano with Moscheles and Plaidy. After two years at Leipsic he was engaged to play a piano concerto at the Gewandhaus concerts. After returning to London he taught the piano in the London Academy of Music and in 1883, was appointed professor in the Royal Academy of Music. He began composing in 1864 with a symphony and a little later, at the request of the committee for the Birmingham Festival, he produced a cantata, The Ancient Mariner. This, with Paradise and the Peri, which he wrote for the same committee in 1870, were very successful and have been performed many times. His orchestral suite, The Lay of the Last Minstrel was produced at the Liverpool Festival in 1874. His oratorio, The Raising of Lazarus, which he composed in 1873, was perhaps his most important work. Other successful productions were his overture to Shakespeare's Winter's Tale; his oratorio, The Good Shepherd; the cantatas, The Building of the Ship, and the Wishing Bell. Since 1880, Mr. Barnett was written the following works for the piano; Musical Landscapes; Home Scenes; Sonata in E Minor; The Flowing Tide; The Dream Maiden; and Valse Brillante. Beside these he wrote the pastoral suite, The Harvest Festival; and several other orchestral pieces; other part-songs and many songs. Mr. Barnett is at present a professor at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music. In the autumn of 1906 he brought out his autobiography, on which he had been employed for nearly three years. It is entitled Musical Reminiscences and Impressions.