Shakespeare, William



Celebrated English singer and vocal teacher; born at Croydon. He has trained many singers who have since become prominent. Shakespeare sang in a church choir as a boy, and at thirteen years of age became an organist and a pupil in harmony and counterpoint of Molique. In 1866 he gained the King's scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, where he studied under W. Sterndale Bennett. In 1871 he won the Mendelssohn scholarship, which enabled him to study at the Leipsic Conservatory, where he was a pupil of Reinecke. He later studied at Milan with Lamperti for two and a half years. While a student at the Royal Academy of Music, Shakespeare produced and performed at the students' concerts several compositions of his own, including a piano trio; capriccio for piano and orchestra and a piano concerto. After his period of study in Italy  Shakespeare returned to England in 1875, and appeared as a vocalist at the Monday, Popular and Crystal Palace concerts and at other concerts in London and the provinces and at the Leeds Festival in 1877. In 1878 he was appointed professor of singing at the Royal Academy of Music and conductor of the concerts of that institution in 1880, a post which he held for six years. He has since been made a fellow of the Academy and is now chiefly known as a teacher of singing, although he has composed a large number of meritorious works. His compositions are marked by great charm and are said to show the influence of Robert Schumann and of Shakespeare's teacher, Bennett. His best known works are a dramatic overture; a symphony; a piano concerto; string quartets, many of which are in manuscript; songs and piano-pieces. The composer's symphony for orchestra was performed in 1874 at the Gewandhaus in Leipsic.