James Hook (composer)
June 3, 1746|
|Died||1827 (aged 80–81)
|Occupations||Composer and organist|
|Instruments||Organ, Harpsichord, Fortepiano|
Life and musical career
He was born in Norwich, the son of James Hook, a razor-grinder and cutler. He displayed a remarkable musical talent at an early age, playing the harpsichord by the age of four and performing concertos in public at age six. He began performing regularly by the time he was 10 years old, including benefit concerts. He held many jobs to earn money, including teaching, composing, transcribing music and tuning keyboard instruments.
Sometime between June 1763 and February 1764 Hook moved to London. There he became the organist at White Conduit House, Pentonville, one of the tea gardens that were popular in 18th-century London. He worked as an organist, teacher and composer, and gained a reputation for composing vocal music. He married the artist and writer Elizabeth Jane Madden on May 29, 1766, at St. Pancras Old Church. They had two sons, James (1772-1828) and Theodore Edward (1788-1841).
Hook was appointed organist and composer to Marylebone Gardens in 1768. In addition to his performances as an organist, and occasionally on the harpsichord, he was now invited to perform concertos between the main works in the theatres, and his short musical entertainments and comic operas were being produced for the pleasure gardens and in the London theaters.
He was appointed organist of St Johns Horselydown, Bermondsey, in 1772, and frequently played concerts on newly built organs, both in London and in nearby counties, often playing his own compositions, he was highly successful as a teacher of organ and harpsichord. Hook remained at Marylebone Gardens until the end of the 1773 season, and a year later was engaged in a similar position at Vauxhall Gardens, where he worked until 1820.
Throughout these years he composed operas and other musical works, most of which were produced at Drury Lane and Covent Garden Theatres. He frequently collaborated with family members. His wife Elizabeth wrote the libretto for the opera The Double Disguise (1784). His son James provided librettos for Jack of Newbury (1795) and Diamond Cut Diamond (1797), while Thomas Edward composed librettos for at least eight operas.
On October 18, 1805, Hook's first wife, Elizabeth Jane Madden, died. A year later, on November 4, 1806, he married his second wife, Harriet Horncastle James.
In 1820 he unexpectedly left his position at Vauxhall, after almost a half century of service, and he died seven years later in Boulogne.
- Trick Upon Trick (pantomime), July, 1772, Op. 3
- Cupid's Revenge (pastoral farce), June 12, 1772, Op. 8
- The Lady of the Manor (comic opera), November 23, 1778, Op. 20
- Too Civil by Half (farce), November 5, 1782, Op. 25
- The Double Disguise (farce), March 8, 1784, Op. 32
- The Fair Peruvian (comic opera), March 18, 1786, Op. 45
- The Feast of Anacreon (serenata), May 24, 1788, Op. 53
- Look ere you Leap (serenata), June 2, 1792, Op. 69
- Jack of Newbury (comic opera with masque), May 6, 1795, Op. 80
- Diamond Cut Diamond, or Venetian Revels (comic opera), May 23, 1797, Op. 89
- The Wreath of Loyalty, or British Volunteer (serenata), July 31, 1799, Op. 94
- Wilmore Castle (comic opera), October 21, 1800, Op. 96
- The Soldier's Return or What Can Beauty Do? (comic opera), April 23, 1805, Op. 108
- The Invisible Girl (operatic farce), April 28, 1806, Op. 112
- Catch him who Can (farce), June 12, 1806, Op. 113
- Tekeli, or the Siege of Montgatz (melodrama), Nov 24, 1806, Op. 114
- The Fortress (melodrama), July 16, 1807, Op. 117
- Music Mad (comic sketch), August 27, 1807, Op. 119
- The Siege of St Quintin, or Spanish Heroism (drama), November 10, 1808, Op. 122
- Killing no Murder (farce), August 21, 1809, Op. 129
- Safe and Sound (comic opera), August 28, 1809, Op. 130
- Sharp and Flat (operatic farce), August 4, 1813, Op. 140
Large Vocal Works
- Many oratorios and odes
- Six Sonatas For Violoncello and Piano, 1783
- Six Solos for Flute and Harpsichord, ca.1774
- Six Familiar Sonatas, 1798
- Works for the clarinet, organ, fortepiano, etc.
- Over 2,000 Songs, most notably The Lass of Richmond Hill
- Guida di musica, Being a Complete Book of Instructions for Beginners on the Harpsichord or Piano Forte … to which is added 24 Progressive Lessons (c1785), Op. 37
- Guida di musica, Second Part, Consisting of Several Hundred Examples of Fingering … and *Six Exercises … to which is added, a Short … Method of learning Thoro’ bass … (?1794), Op. 75
- The Preceptor for the Piano-Forte, Organ or harpsichord … Favorite Airs … a Collection of Progressive Lessons … [and] Two Celebrated Lessons (?1795)
- New Guida di musica, Being a Compleat Book of Instructions for Beginners on the Harpsichord or Piano Forte … to which is added 24 Progressive Lessons (1796), Op. 81
- McGairl, Grove Online
- The Annual Register ... of 1806 reports the marriage of "James Hook, esq. of Charlotte-Street, Bedford-Square, to Miss Harriet Horncastle James, daughter of Joseph J. esq."
- Baker, Theodore (1992), "Hook, Ernest", in Slonimsky, Nicolas, Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, Eighth Edition, New York: Schirmer Books, p. 796, ISBN 0-02-872415-1.
- McGairl, Pamela. "Hook, James", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed 16 February 2010), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
- The Annual Register or a View of History, Politics and Literature for the Year 1806 48, London: W. Otridge and Son, 1808, p. 489
- Free scores by James Hook in the Choral Public Domain Library (ChoralWiki)
- Free scores by James Hook at the International Music Score Library Project