Reeves, John Sims



English tenor, known generally as Sims Reeves; the son of a musician in the Royal Artillery band, from whom he received his early instruction in music. Biographers differ as to the time and place of his birth. As a boy he possessed a soprano voice and sang occasionally in concert; and at the age of fourteen he became organist of a church in North Cray, Kent, and a pupil of Callcott in harmony and of J. B. Cramer in piano, also learning to play on the violin, cello, oboe and bassoon. In 1839 he made his debut as a barytone in the part of Rudolpho in La Sonnambula at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He next studied under Hobbs and Cooke, and sang minor parts for tenor in various operas at Drury Lane from 1842 to 1843. Further study followed under Bordogni at Paris and Mazzucato at Milan. His debut as tenor was made at La Scala Theatre, Milan, 1846, as Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor ft and the next year he appeared in the same role at Drury Lane, after which his fame was assured. In 1848 he ippeared in Italian Opera in London, and for over thirty years sang in opera, concert and oratorio, being known as the greatest tenor ever produced by Great Britain, and a prime favorite in his own country and the provinces, to which his appearances were principally confined. After 1881 he appeared in public but seldom, and in 1891 gave a farewell concert in London and turned his attention to teaching, but pecuniary troubles caused him to reappear in 1893, after which he sang in concert and in variety theatres. In 1896 he made a tour of South Africa. He died at Worthing, in 1900, while on a visit to his son. His first wife, Emma Lucombe, was herself a soprano of ability in opera and concert, and their son Herbert, also a tenor, made his London debut in 1880.