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Classical Composers A-Z: Samuel Sebastian Wesley

Peter Wintersgill summarises the life of Samuel Sebastian Wesley, the composer of church music.

Born
14th August, 1810, illegitimate. Was the greatest composer in the English
tradition between Purcell and Stanford.

Father
Samuel, composer and organist.

Mother
Sarah, father's housekeeper.

Family
Brother Robert and sister Eliza.

Childhood
Chorister at Chapel Royal at 10.

Adolescence
Organist of several London churches from the age of 16, and briefly conductor of a London theatre.

Adult Life
Organist successively at Hereford (1832), Exeter (1835), Leeds (1842), Winchester (1849), and Gloucester (1865).

Most of his output was for the church, especially anthems, e.g. Blessed be the God and Father, Ascribe unto the Lord, The Wilderness, Thou wilt keep him, and O Give Thanks.
Other works were the Service in E, hymn tunes, notably Aurelia, glees, songs and piano music.

He died 19th April, 1876, in Gloucester aged 65.

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