William Selby

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For other people named William Selby, see William Selby (disambiguation).
William Selby
Born 1738
London, England
Died 1798 age 59
Boston, Massachusetts,
United States
Occupation(s) church musician, composer
Instruments organ
Years active 1755–1798

William Selby (1738–1798[1]) was an early American composer,[2] organist and choirmaster.[3] Born in England, he emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts. In 1774 he became the organist at Trinity Church, Newport. Three years later, Selby became organist at King's Chapel in Boston where he organized the first colonial music festival.[4]


William Selby was the third known son of Joseph and Mary Selby of London.[5]:12 Beginning at the age of 17 he held several positions in London as organist.[5]


Selby's surviving works include two voluntaries and one Fugue for the organ, a lesson in C for the harpsichord, and an anthem for Thanksgiving Day.

In addition to his musical endeavors, he managed a grocery and liquor shop.


  1. ^ "American Composer Timeline". Vox Novus. 
  2. ^ Flood, W. H. Grattan (August 1, 1924). "New Light on Late Tudor Composers: I. William Selby". The Musical Times. Musical Times Publications Ltd. 65 (978): 703–704. doi:10.2307/912257. JSTOR 912257. [dead link]
  3. ^ McKay, D. (1971). "William Selby, Musical Emigre in Colonial Boston". The Musical Quarterly. LVII (4): 609–627. doi:10.1093/mq/LVII.4.609. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  4. ^ Biggs, E. Power, ed. (1955). A Treasury of Shorter Organ Classics. Bryn Mawr, PA: Merrymount Music Press. p. 1. 
  5. ^ a b Temperley, Nicholas (2003). Bound for America: Three British Composers. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02847-3.