John Francis Barnett was the son of John Barnett's brother, Joseph Alfred, also a professor of music. John Francis carried on the traditions of the family as a composer and teacher. He obtained a queen's scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, and developed into an accomplished pianist, visiting Germany to study in 1857 and playing Mendelssohn's Piano Concerto No. 2 in D minor at a Gewandhaus concert at Leipzig in 1860. His teachers at the Conservatoire in Leipzig included the great pianist Ignaz Moscheles, who had been a pupil of Beethoven. Back in Britain, Barnett enjoyed a successful career as a pianist for some years but concentrated increasingly on composition and teaching. He became noticed as a composer with his symphony in A minor (1864), and followed this with a number of compositions for orchestra, strings and piano. His cantataThe Ancient Mariner premiered at Birmingham in 1867, and another, Paradise and the Peri, in 1870, both successfully. In 1873 his most important work, the oratorio The Raising of Lazarus, was written, and in 1876 produced at Hereford. During this period, Barnett also composed several other minor cantatas and piano pieces, and he took an active part as a professor at the Guildhall School of Music and one of the founder-professors of the Royal College of Music, where his students included Marmaduke Barton.
John Francis Barnett was twice married, his first wife having died in 1882 giving birth to their fourth child. Several later members of his family became successful musicians, namely his grandson John Francis Cook (1908-1992), who changed his name by deed poll to John Francis and became well known as a flautist and teacher; and his great-granddaughters Judith Fitton (flautist), Sarah Francis (oboist) and Hannah Francis (soprano).
This article is largely based on an article in the out-of-copyright Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, which was produced in 1911. It should be brought up to date to reflect subsequent history or scholarship (including the references, if any). When you have completed the review, replace this notice with a simple note on this article's talk page. (January 2011)