John William Glover

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John William Glover (19 June 1815 – 19 December 1899) was an Irish composer, conductor, organist, violinist, and teacher.

Life and music[edit]

Glover was born in Dublin, where he initially became an orchestral violinist as early as 1830. In 1848, he succeeded Haydn Corri as organist of St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Dublin, and also became professor of music at the Central Model Schools of the Board of National Education.[1] An experienced choral conductor, he established the short-lived Choral Institute of Dublin in 1851. He presented a series of "National Concerts" in 1853 to commemorate Thomas Moore one year after the poet's death, and also co-organised and conducted large musical performances on the occasion of the centenaries of Daniel O'Connell (1875) and Thomas Moore (1879).

As a composer, Glover was one of a handful of native composers who cultivated (classical) musical life in Dublin in the mid-19th century – and among these the only one of Roman Catholic denomination. A personal friend of the émigrés Michael William Balfe and William Vincent Wallace, he, too, was inclined towards opera, despite the incomparably more difficult circumstances in Ireland in this period. His most ambitious work was the three-act opera The Deserted Village (libretto by Edmund Falconer after Oliver Goldsmith's novel of the same name), performed in Dublin in 1880 and published in London. In it, "Glover uses a very direct diatonic language that is not sentimental but speaks to his assured facility for setting words to music",[2] it was also described as a "populist style".[3] To a very limited extent he makes use of Irish traditional music, but even so it is an important work in the canon of Irish national opera. Other large-scale works include the "national oratorio" St Patrick at Tara (1875), written for the O'Connell Centenary, and the cantata One Hundred Years Ago (1879) for the Moore Centenary. He also wrote a violin concerto (date unknown)[4]

Glover was also an expert on Irish traditional music. He lectured widely on this subject in Dublin, London, and Paris. Among his publications is one of the earliest collective volumes of Thomas Moore's Irish Melodies (to Glover's accompaniments, published by James Duffy, Dublin, 1859), and he collaborated with Patrick Weston Joyce, providing the piano accompaniments to his Ancient Irish Music (Dublin: McGlashan & Gill, 1873). Glover died in Dublin.

He was the grandfather of Jimmy Glover, director of music at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, from 1893 to 1920.[5]


In addition to the works cited in the References below, of interest may also be:

  • Ita Beausang: "From National Sentiment to Nationalist Movement, 1850–1900", in: Music in Nineteenth-Century Ireland (Irish Musical Studies vol. 9), ed. M. Murphy & J. Smaczny (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007), p. 36–51.


  1. ^ Paul Collins: "Glover, John Williams", in: The Encyclopaedia of Music in Ireland, ed. H. White & B. Boydell (Dublin: UCD Press, 2013), p. 435.
  2. ^ Axel Klein: "Stage-Irish, or The National in Irish Opera 1780–1925", in: Opera Quarterly 21 (2005) 1, p. 41.
  3. ^ Joseph J. Ryan: "Opera in Ireland Before 1925", in: Irish Music in the Twentieth Century (Irish Musical Studies) vol. 7, ed. A. Klein & G. Cox (Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2003), p. 43.
  4. ^ See Collins (2013).
  5. ^ M. C. Rintoul, Dictionary of Real People and Places in Fiction, p. 447