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Definition: Arne, Thomas Augustine from The Columbia Encyclopedia

(ärn), 1710–78, English composer. Arne composed the song Rule, Britannia, based on an ode by James Thomson. He composed new music for an adaptation of Milton's masque Comus (1738) and for some of the songs in Shakespeare's plays. He also wrote operas, oratorios, including Judith (1761), instrumental music, and incidental music for plays.


Summary Article: Arne, Thomas Augustine
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

English composer. He wrote incidental music for the theatre and introduced opera in the Italian manner to the London stage with works such as Artaxerxes (1762, revised 1777). He is remembered for the songs ‘Where the bee sucks’ from The Tempest (1746), ‘Blow, blow thou winter wind’ from As You Like It (1740), and ‘Rule, Britannia!’ from the masque Alfred (1740).

Arne was educated at Eton and intended for the law, but practised secretly on a muffled harpsichord and learnt the violin from Michael Festing, until his father allowed him to make music his career. He also taught his sister Susanna singing, and she appeared in his first opera, a setting of Addison's Rosamond, in 1733. He wrote music for Henry Fielding's Tom Thumb (1733), John Milton's Comus (1738), and William Congreve's The Judgement of Paris (1740). He had married the singer Cecilia Young in 1736, and he and his wife worked successfully 1742–44 in Dublin, which they twice revisited in the 1750s. The masque Alfred was produced in 1740, at the residence of Frederick, Prince of Wales, at Cliveden. In 1744 he was appointed composer to the Drury Lane Theatre, and in 1745 composer to the Vauxhall Gardens. In 1746 he supplied music for the masque Neptune and Amphitrite and the songs in The Tempest. He composed two oratorios, The Death of Abel (1744) and Judith (1761). In 1760, after a quarrel with the actor-manager David Garrick, he gave up his post as composer to Drury Lane Theatre and became composer to the Covent Garden Theatre, where his popular dramatic pastoral Thomas and Sally was produced in 1760. In 1762 he produced his opera Artaxerxes, translated by himself from Pietro Metastasio and composed in the Italian manner. He was buried at St Paul's, Covent Garden. His son Michael (c. 1741–1786) was also a composer, mainly for the stage.

WorksOperas and plays with musicThomas and Sally (1760), Artaxerxes (1762), Love in a Village (1762), May Day (1775).

MasquesComus (Milton adapted by Dalton; 1738), The Judgment of Paris, Alfred (1740).

Incidental music Shakespeare's As You Like It (1740), Twelfth Night (1741), The Merchant of Venice (1741), The Tempest (1746).

Other oratorio Judith (1761); about 25 books of songs; eight overtures for orchestra.

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