Shield, William



English composer, perhaps the most original since Puree 11; who excelled especially as a song-composer. He was born at Whickham, Durham, the son of a singing-teacher, and upon the death of his father he was apprenticed to a shipbuilder. He found time, however, to study thorough-bass with Avison, and also had charge of the subscription concerts at Newcastle. When his apprenticeship had ended Shield became the leader of the theatre and of concerts in Scarborough. In 1772 he was violinist in the orchestra of the opera, London; the following year, principal viola-player at the same place and at concerts, and in 1778 produced his first opera, A Flitch of Bacon, at the Haymarket Theatre, London. That year he was appointed composer to Covent Garden and retained this post until 1791, in which year he visited Italy. In 1817 he succeeded Parsons as master of the Royal Music. He died in London and is buried in Westminster Abbey. Shield composed in all about forty operas; pantomimes; musical farces, detached numbers of which were published; six string trios; six violin duets; and wrote an Introduction to Harmony, and Rudiments of Thorough-bass, both published in 1794. His concerted music is melodious, but his dramatic works are now forgotten, with the exception of the songs they contain. His theoretical works are no longer used.