Saturday, January 31, 2015

William Charles Levey (1837-94)

Here is a biography of the interesting Irish composer and stage conductor, William Charles Levey, extracted from 'British Musical Biography' (Brown & Stratton, 1897):

"Levey, William Charles, composer and conductor, born in Dublin, April 25, 1837.  Studied under his father (noticed below), and from 1852, in Paris, under Auber, Thalberg, and Prudent.  While there he was elected a member of the Société des Auteurs et Compositeurs. On his return to London he held positions as conductor at Covent Garden; Drury Lane, 1868-74 ; and again, later, Haymarket, Princess's, and Adelphi, etc. He died in London, August 18, 1894

Operas, etc . Fanchette, Covent Garden, January 4, 1864 , Claude ; Nazarille;
Punchinello, Her Majesty's, December 28, 1864; Fashion, Wanted a Parlour Maid; Music to Antony and Cleopatra, Amy Robsart, Rebecca; King o' Scots; Lady of the Lake, Esmeralda, Jack in the Box, etc.  Music to various pantomimes.

Cantatas: The Man of War, Robin Hood (for boys voices); The Ride to Ware

Many songs:
Esmeralda; Here stands a post; Unfading
beauty ; King and the beggar maid , Maritana,
Gay Gitana ; Lullaby, etc.

Pieces for pf , etc.
Irish overture for orchestra.

His father, RICHARD MICHAEL LEVEY, born in Dublin, October 2, 1811, violinist, was apprenticed to James Barton, leader at the Theatre Royal, Dublin, in 1826.  In 1830 he succeeded to the post, and was afterwards musical director. On his fiftieth annversary of office he received a handsome testimonial.  As a violinist he was well known at the Crystal Palace Handel Festivals, etc.  He was
also professor of the violin at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, and is still living. The violinist known as "Paganini Redividus" is his son, RICHARD M LEVEY. He first appealed in Paris, in 1850, and was for some time principal violin at Muzard's Concerts at the Hôtel d'Osmond. Then he came to London, and at the Royal Polytechnic Institution, gave a wierd impersonation entitled
"Paganini's Ghost" He has given recitals in the provinces and on the continent, but no particulars are available concerning his biography."

I should add to this that the father gave the precocious eight-year-old Charles Stanford his debut as a composer when he conducted a pantomime of his at the Theatre Royal in Dublin.

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