John Liptrot Hatton
John Liptrot Hatton (12 October 1809 – 10 September 1886) was an English musical composer, conductor, pianist and singer.
Hatton was born in Liverpool. He was virtually a self-taught musician, and besides holding several appointments as organist in Liverpool, appeared as an actor on the Liverpool stage, subsequently finding his way to London as a member of Macready's company at Drury Lane in 1832.
Ten years after this he was appointed conductor at the same theatre for a series of English operas, and in 1843 his own first operetta, Queen of the Thames, was given with success. Josef Staudigl, the eminent German bass, was a member of the company, and at his suggestion Hatton wrote a more ambitious work, Pascal Bruno, which, in a German translation, was presented at Vienna, with Staudigl in the principal part; the opera contained a song, "Revenge", which the basso made very popular in England, though the piece as a whole was not successful enough to be produced there.
Hatton's excellent piano playing attracted much attention in Vienna; he took the opportunity of studying counterpoint under Sechter, and wrote a number of songs, obviously modelled on the style of German classics. In 1846 he appeared at the Hereford festival as a singer, and also played a piano concerto of Mozart. He undertook concert tours about this time with Sivori, Vieuxtemps and others.
From 1848 to 1850 he was in America. In her book on the diarist George Templeton Strong, Vera Brodsky Lawrence reports that Hatton gave several public and private concerts in New York City in 1848. For example, on September 12, at the Apollo Theatre, he performed his own comic songs, as well as Handel, Field and Scarlatti. Notably, also in 1848, he shared the stage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Stephen C. Foster.
Lawrence states: "[C]ontemporary [American] critics deplored the failure of the public to appreciate his great art." He did pander to the public on occasion: in Boston, he performed Bach and Mendelssohn, but also sang "Christmas Sleigh Ride" while he played the piano and jangled sleigh bells, all to the great amusement of the crowd.
On his return he became conductor of the Glee and Madrigal Union, and from about 1853 was engaged at the Princess's Theatre, London to provide and conduct the music for Charles Kean's Shakespearean revivals. He seems to have kept this appointment for about five years. In 1856 a cantata, Robin Hood, was given at the Bradford festival, and a third opera, Rose, or Love's Ransom, at Covent Garden in 1864, without much success. In 1866 he went again to America, and from this year Hatton held the post of accompanist at the Ballad Concerts, St James's Hall, for nine seasons.
In 1875 he went to Stuttgart, and wrote an oratorio, Hezekiah, given at The Crystal Palace in 1877; like all his larger works it met with moderate success. Hatton excelled in the lyrical forms of music, and, in spite of his distinct skill in the severer styles of the madrigal, etc., he won popularity by such songs as "To Anthea", "Good-bye, Sweetheart", and "Simon the Cellarer", the first of which may be called a classic in its own way.
His glees and part-songs, such as "When Evening's Twilight", were reckoned among the best of their class; and he might have gained a place of higher distinction among English composers had it not been for his irresistible animal spirits and a want of artistic reverence, which made it uncertain in his younger days whether, when he appeared at a concert, he would play a fugue of Bach or sing a comic song. He died at Margate on 20 September 1886.
Hatton's daughter, Frances J. Hatton, emigrated to Canada in 1869, where she became a respected composer and the singing instructor at the Hellmuth Ladies College in London, Ontario.
Performed by Atelier vocal des Herbiers (petit ensemble Amarante)
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Sources and references
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Hatton, John Liptrot". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Foster Hall Collection at the University of Pittsburgh
- Carleton College Music Department website
- Hatton's portrait
- Hatton's work at the Princess's Theatre in London is well documented by the playbill collection of the University of Kent at Canterbury
- Vera Brodsky Lawrence, Strong on Music: The New York Music Scene in the Days of George Templeton Strong, pp. 538-89 (1995)