Pierson, Henry Hugo



English composer, organist and pianist; born at Oxford. His real name was Henry Hugh Pearson, but he changed it on going to Germany to live. His father was Dean of Salisbury. Henry was educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge. While a student he published a set of songs, called Thoughts of Melody, to Byron's words. He studied under Attwood, Walmisley and Corfe. In 1839 he went to Germany, studied under Rinck, Tomaschek and Reissiger, came into contact with Mendelssohn, and met Meyerbeer, Spohr and Schumann. In 1844 he returned and became Reid professor of music at Edinburgh University, in succession to Sir Henry Bishop, but soon resigned and went back to Germany. He lived at Vienna, then Hamburg, and later Leipsic, where he died. He paid little heed to form in composition, but was thoroughly original, and while his reputation in Germany was high he was criticized in England: His first important work was the opera, The Elves and the Earth King; then followed Leila, and other works, under the nom de plume of Edgar Mansfeldt. He also wrote two other operas, Contarini and Fenice. Jerusalem, an oratorio, is his best work. He left parts of another oratorio, Hezekia. For his music to the second part of Faust he received the gold medal of Art and Science from Leopold I. of Belgium. He wrote five overtures, Romantique; and to Julius Caesar; As You Like It; Romeo and Juliet; and Macbeth. A Funeral March for Hamlet; a dirge, Salve aeternum; songs, both sacred and secular; and part-songs, among them Ye Mariners of England, are also among his works. Thelka's Lament, Now the Bright Morning Star, Claribel, and The White Owl, are examples of his lyric style.