Charles Burney (1726–1814)
Paul F. Rice, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Charles Burney (1726−1814) , musician and author, was born in Shrewsbury, the fourth of the six children born to James MacBurney (1678−1749), a dancer, musician and artist, and Ann Cooper (c.1690−1775). In 1739, Charles was sent to Chester for schooling and he received musical training from Edmund Baker, the organist of the Chester Cathedral. He made rapid progress and returned to Shrewsbury in 1742 to become the assistant organist at St. Mary’s Church. In 1744, Burney was articled to Thomas A. Arne (1710−78) in London for a period of five years. The British system of musical education differed radically from that found in the major centres on the Continent, especially on the Italian peninsula. There, musical training was provided in conservatories where a team of professors taught both the science of music (theory and composition) and the practice of music (performance). Thus, a well-rounded curriculum could be delivered which would also include training in improvisation, acting, and the interpretation of literature for those who envisioned a stage career. Indeed, a broad education in the humanities was thought to be important for young musicians. By contrast, success in the British system of apprenticeship was dependent upon a single master being able to deliver all of the elements for musical training. In return, the master received a cut of any money made by the student during the apprenticeship period. If the teacher was to make money in this kind of arrangement, he or she would also have to act as an impresario to find work for the student.
Burney quickly found Arne to be a difficult and unscrupulous master. Burney’s daughter Frances d’Arblay (Fanny, 1752−1840) records the following in her Memoirs of Dr. Burney (1832):
Eminent, however, in that art as was Dr. Arne, his eminence was to that art alone confined. Thoughtless, dissipated, and careless, he neglected, or rather scoffed at all other but musical reputation. And he was so little scrupulous in his ideas of propriety, that he took pride, rather than shame, in being publicly classed, even in the decline of life, as a man of pleasure.
Such a character was ill qualified to form or to protect the morals of a youthful pupil; and it is probable that not a notion of such a duty ever occurred to Dr. Arne; so happy was his self-complacency in the fertility of his invention and the ease of his compositions ...
D’Arblay’s moral outrage glosses over the likelihood that Arne also took advantage of his pupil’s musical skills. As Arne’s apprentice, the young Burney was left to teach Arne’s other students, copy out musical scores and parts and occasionally play in the orchestra at the Drury Lane theatre. Given Burney’s experience with Arne, it is not surprising that he proposed a plan in 1774 for conservatory in London. Although the board of governors at the Foundling Hospital initially supported the idea, the plan was ultimately rejected because “music was an art of luxury, by no means requisite to life, or accessory to morality.” The children at the orphanage were “to be trained up to useful purposes, with a singleness that would ward off all ambition for what was higher” (W.W. Cazalet, The History of the Royal Academy of Music, 1854). Evidently, orphans were not meant to aspire to a higher social standing.
In 1746, Burney met the sophisticated and well-travelled Fulke Greville (1717−c.1805) who was impressed by Burney’s intellect and performing abilities. For the next two years, Greville bought out a portion of Burney’s apprenticeship so that Burney could entertain Greville’s friends at his country home at Wilbury and during the yearly trips to Bath. Finally, in 1748, Greville paid Arne £300 to release Burney from his apprenticeship altogether. Greville prepared to make a lengthy trip to the Continent in 1749, and expected Burney to accompany him. Burney, however, had entered into a romantic relationship with Esther Sleepe (c.1725−62) and she had already secretly given birth to their first child. Burney was granted leave from his arrangement with Greville so that he could marry her. Now, with family responsibilities, Burney had to take work as the organist St. Dionis Backchurch, Fenchurch Street, and as harpsichordist in the New Concerts at the King’s Arms, Cornhill, where he succeeded John Stanley (1712/13–86). Overwork and the polluted atmosphere of London eventually brought on severe illness. Following the advice of his doctor, Burney moved his family in 1751 to Lynn Regis, Norfolk. He remained there for the next nine years and earned his living as an organist at St. Margaret’s Church. The time in Norfolk restored his health and the Burney family moved back to the metropolis in 1760, settling first at 50 Poland Street. This was followed by a house in Queen Square and, in 1774, a large property at No. 35 St. Martin’s Street was purchased that was closer to the higher social and financial circles that would be important for his social advancement. The house had previously been owned by Sir Isaac Newton.
Burney quickly re-established himself as an important teacher and performer. Teaching became his occupation and Mme d’Arblay records that: “Pupils of rank, wealth, and talents, were continually proposed to him; and, in a very short time, he had hardly an hour unappropriated to some fair disciple” (Memoirs of Dr. Burney, 1832). The account suggests that these students were primarily the daughters of the wealthy. Burney’s success as a teacher was bolstered by the acclaim given to his eldest child, Ester (1749−1832), as a keyboard performer. Around the same time, Burney released a set of six concerti that were well received. While he composed a chamber music, keyboard pieces and songs and other vocal music that were appreciated during their time, his compositional efforts have largely been forgotten in the modern era. The Burney household became an important centre of social and musical activity. The family was on intimate terms with Sir Joshua Reynolds (1723−92), Samuel Johnson (1709−84), Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751−1816) and the most important musicians in the city. By the end of the century, that list included Joseph Haydn (1732−1809) during his two visits to London. Burney often held Sunday evening concerts in his home, invitations to which were greatly prized. An etching by J. Bretherton from 1782 (after a drawing by Charles Loraine Smith) depicts one such gathering with such luminaries as the soprano castrato Gaspare Pacchierotti (1740−1821) and the oboist J.C. Fischer (1733−1800) taking part. Burney’s prominence in the musical society of London was greatly enhanced when he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music on June 23, 1769, by the University of Oxford, Cambridge having previously overlooked him.
During the 1770s, Burney’s time was much spent in accumulating information for a projected History of Music. As Percy Scholes notes, “it became clear to Burney that in England he could not find all the information he required if the task was to be accomplished with the completeness and thoroughness that his ideals demanded” (The Great Dr. Burney, 1, 1948), Burney left London in June 1770 for an extended trip through France, Switzerland, and the Italian peninsula. In Bologna, he met Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756−91), and the young Thomas Linley (1756−78) in Florence. The result of this trip was the publication of The Present State of Music in France and Italy (1771). A second Continental trip was begun in July of 1772 that saw Burney visiting the German-speaking world and the Netherlands. His findings were released in The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands and United Provinces (1773). According to Frances d’Arblay, Dr. Johnson was of the belief that “Burney was one of the most agreeable writers of travels of the age” (Memoirs of Dr. Burney, 1832). Not only did Burney collect information on the history of music, he spent much of his time meeting with the most important people of the day. This put him into a good position to scout for possible vocal talent for the King’s Theatre in London which often had problems finding singers for the Italian opera seasons. The success of Burney’s publications encouraged him to pursue his History of Music, the first volume of which appeared in 1776. The second volume followed in 1782, and the final two volumes in 1789. Although Johann Nikolaus Forkel (1749−1818) and others on the Continent attacked Burney’s account of ancient Greek music, the History cemented Burney’s reputation in Britain as a man of letters. In 1779, Burney wrote an Account of the Infant Musician Crotch. William Crotch (1775−1847) evinced great musical abilities at an early age, and eventually became a Professor of Music at Oxford University. Burney had been much involved in the Handel Commemoration given at Westminster Abbey and the Pantheon in 1784. The following year, he published an account of the event which was prefaced by a life of Handel. In 1796, Burney published Memoirs of the Letters and Writings of the Abate Metastasio.
Burney’s first wife died in 1762. In 1767, he married Elizabeth Allen (1728–96), the widow of Stephen Allen of Lynn. Burney’s family grew in the process. He had six children with his first wife; his second wife had three children from her first marriage, and a son and daughter were eventually born to Burney and Elizabeth. Several of these children achieved fame in their own right. Frances (Fanny) became a celebrated author who is still remembered for her novel Evelina. Her brother James (1750−1821) was a naval officer who rose to the rank of rear-admiral; he accompanied Captain Cook on his last two voyages. The voluminous correspondence of Susan Burney (1755−1800) is an invaluable source of information on the arts (opera in particular) and society of the time. This correspondence has been preserved and can be found in the British Library (Egerton Ms. 3691−92, and Ms. 3700E, both of the Barrett Collection). Elizabeth Meeke (1761−c. 1826), Elizabeth Allen’s daughter from her first marriage, became a popular novelist.
In 1783, Burney was appointed organist to the chapel of the Chelsea Hospital. He took rooms at the Chelsea College, and gave up his house on St. Martin’s Street. He continued to teach, however, relinquishing that occupation only in 1804. By that time, his health was in decline; in 1807 he suffered a stroke, and another, more severe, followed in 1813. Burney died on April 12, 1814, and was buried on the college grounds as had been his second wife. Burney had accumulated a huge library of books, printed scores and manuscripts. His will stipulated that these were to be put to auction, a task administered by John White of Westminster. The advertisement in The Morning Chronicle (August, 13, 1814) made specific reference to the rarity of much of the collection of the “most renowned old Masters,” such as “inedited works of Carisimi, Stradella, Colonna, Casanni, Leo, A. Scarlatti” and others. The books on music appear to have been bought separately by the British Museum. Although Burney never achieved the court appointment which he desired, his influence on musical matters in eighteenth-century London cannot be underestimated. Furthermore, his writings on music are still much consulted. His observations on the composers and performers then living on the Continent provide an invaluable window on how the business of music was conducted in the second half of the eighteenth century.
Dictionary of National Biography (1885–1900)
BURNEY, CHARLES (1726–1814), musician and author, was born at Shrewsbury on 12 April 1726. His grandfather, James MacBurney, lived at Great Hanwood, Shropshire, where (in the latter years of his life) he was land steward to the Earl of Ashburnham. Burney's father, James Burney, was born at Hanwood, and educated at Westminster under Dr. Busby. He subsequently eloped with an actress of the Goodman's Fields Theatre, by whom he had a large family. James MacBurney quarrelled with his son, and at a late age married a servant, by whom he had a son named Joseph, to whom he left all his property. Joseph Burney, however, soon squandered his estate, and afterwards gained his living as a dancing-master. James Burney was twice married, his second wife being a Miss Ann Cooper, an heiress and celebrated beauty. A year after this marriage James Burney adopted the profession of a portrait-painter, and some short time later left Shrewsbury and settled at Chester. Charles Burney and his twin sister Susanna were the youngest children by the second wife. On Burney's parents removing to Chester he was left behind at Shrewsbury under the care of an old nurse, but subsequently he was sent to Chester, and educated at the free school. About 1741 he returned to Shrewsbury and studied music under his eldest half-brother, James, who was organist of St. Mary's, Shrewsbury, from 1735 until his death in 1789. Burney also studied under Baker, the organist of Chester Cathedral, a pupil of Blow. In 1744 he met Arne, who was passing through Chester on his return from Ireland. Arne was so struck by his talent that he offered to take him as a pupil. Burney was accordingly articled to him, and went to live in London with an elder brother named Richard, who was already settled there. He remained under Arne for three years, during which period he contributed some music to Thomson's ‘Alfred’ (Drury Lane, 30 March 1745). In 1747 Burney published six sonatas for two violins and a bass, dedicated to the Earl of Holdernesse. Shortly after he was introduced by Kirkman, the harpsichord maker, to Fulke Greville, who was so charmed by his talent and vivacity that he paid Arne 300l. to cancel his articles, and took the young musician to live with him. During this period of his life Burney laid the foundation of his subsequent success both as a fashionable music-teacher and as a finished man of the world. He was so much favoured by his patron that on the private marriage of the latter he was deputed to give the bride away. Not long after Greville's marriage Burney fell in love with a Miss Esther Sleepe, whom he met at his brother Richard's house in Hatton garden, and to whom he was married in 1749. In the same year Burney was appointed organist of St. Dionis Backchurch, at a salary of 30l. a year, and was (3 Dec.) elected a member of the Royal Society of Musicians. He was also engaged as conductor at the ‘New Concerts’ held at the King's Arms, Cornhill. On 13 Dec. 1750 Mendez's ‘Robin Hood’ was produced at Drury Lane with music by Burney. This was a failure, but on the 26th of the same month it was retrieved by the success of the pantomime of ‘Queen Mab,’ to which Burney also wrote the music. A few songs in the latter work were published anonymously, ‘compos'd by the Society of the Temple of Apollo.’
But Burney's London career was suddenly cut short by a severe illness which confined him to his bed for thirteen weeks. On his recovery he was ordered to leave town, and accordingly accepted the post of organist at Lynn Regis, where his annual salary was 120l. Here he remained for upwards of nine years, occupied with much correspondence, plans for the ‘History of Music’ which was afterwards to make him famous, and riding about the country to his music lessons with a volume of Italian poetry in one pocket and a dictionary in the other. In 1759 he wrote music to an ode for St. Cecilia's day, which was performed in costume, with much success, at Ranelagh Gardens. In 1760, his health being completely restored, he returned to London and settled in Poland Street, where his time was soon fully taken up with teaching. In 1761 he sustained a severe loss in the death of his wife, who seems to have been fully his equal in intellect and culture. In Madame d'Arblay's ‘Memoirs’ there is a touching letter from Burney describing his loss in words which for once are not in his usual stilted manner.
After his wife's death Burney took his daughters Esther and Susanna to Paris, where he left them at school. On his return, at Garrick's suggestion, he adapted Rousseau's opera ‘Le Devin du Village,’ which was produced at Drury Lane in 1766 (21 Nov.) as ‘The Cunning Man,’ without, however, achieving any great success. Shortly afterwards he was married privately to Mrs. Stephen Allen of Lynn, a widow with two children. In 1769 he undertook to set to music the ode for the Duke of Grafton's installation at Cambridge as chancellor, but was prevented from accomplishing his purpose by the means at his disposal being so limited. He took the degree of Mus. Doc. at Oxford in June, and his exercise was performed on the 23rd of that month, Miss Barsanti being the principal soloist. The work was so successful that it was repeated at the three subsequent Oxford festivals, and was also performed at the Katharinenkirche at Hamburg under C. P. E. Bach. In the same year he published an ‘Essay towards the History of Comets,’ a work which included a translation by his first wife of a letter by Maupertuis. His astronomical pursuits brought on an attack of rheumatic fever, on his recovery from which Burney began once more seriously to collect materials for his ‘History of Music.’ For this purpose he left England in June 1770, well provided with influential letters of introduction, and proceeded to Italy by way of France and Switzerland. He visited all the principal Italian towns, and returned by way of Genoa, Lyons, and Paris. During his absence Mrs. Burney had bought a new house in Queen Square, Bloomsbury, and Burney retired to the house of his friend Crispe, Chessington Hall, near Ewell, Surrey, where he prepared for the press his account of his foreign tour, which appeared in 1771. The book was a great success, and is still amusing and interesting, though much of the information contained in it was subsequently incorporated in the ‘History of Music.’ In the same year he published a translation of a letter on bowing by the great violinist Tartini. At the beginning of July 1772 he left England again, and travelled across Belgium to Germany, making his way as far as Vienna, and returning by Dresden, Berlin, Hamburg, Bremen, and the Netherlands. He arrived at Calais in December, and for nine days attempted to cross the Channel, but was prevented by bad weather. When he eventually reached London he was laid up with another severe illness, brought on by the hardships of the journey. During his illness the house in Queen Square had to be relinquished owing to some difficulty about the title, but Mrs. Burney bought another one (which had formerly belonged to Newton), 36 St. Martin's Street, Leicester Square. In 1773 Burney published the account of his German tour (in 2 vols.), a very successful work. In the same year he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Three years later, and six years after the issue of his original plan, he published the first volume of his ‘History of Music,’ which was dedicated to Queen Charlotte. A second edition of this volume appeared in 1789; the second volume was published in 1782, and the third and fourth in 1789. The work was from the outset very successful, and was generally pronounced superior to the similar undertaking of Sir John Hawkins, which saw the light in 1776. ‘Posterity, however, has reversed the decision. … Burney, possessed of far greater knowledge than Hawkins, better judgment, and a better style, frequently wrote about things which he had not sufficiently examined. Hawkins, on the other hand, more industrious than Burney, was deficient in technical skill, and often inaccurate.’ Both works are of the highest value, and form the foundation of nearly every English work on musical history which has appeared since; but Burney's is disfigured by the undue prominence he gives to the fashionable music of his own day, and the lack of appreciation he displays towards the compositions of the English schools of the preceding centuries.
In 1774 Burney issued a plan for the establishment of a music school in England upon the system he had seen in full success in Italy. In 1779 he drew up an account of the musical precocity of William Crotch, which appeared in the ‘Philosophical Transactions’ of the Royal Society. At this period of his career Burney was a member of nearly every literary coterie of the day. He was on intimate terms of friendship with Johnson, the Thrales, Burke, Reynolds, Garrick, Mrs. Vesey, Mrs. Montagu, Mrs. Chapone, and Mrs. Delany, many interesting particulars as to whom are recorded in Mme. d'Arblay's memoirs of her father. In 1783 Burke gave him the post of organist at Chelsea Hospital, the salary of which was raised for his benefit from 30l. to 50l. In 1784 he became a member of the Literary Club, and in 1785 published his account of the Handel commemoration which took place at Westminster Abbey in the preceding year. In May 1786, on the death of Stanley, Burney applied for the post of master of the royal music, and though he had a personal interview with George III, the post was given to Parsons. Probably the appointment of his daughter Frances (Madame d'Arblay) as keeper of the robes was made in order to compensate him for this disappointment. After the completion of his ‘History of Music’ he was much engaged in writing criticisms in the ‘Monthly Review,’ but in 1793 he began to be subject to attacks of a nervous feverish character, and when suffering from these used only to write dry fugues and canons. His ill-health culminated in an attack of acute rheumatism, which was only cured after some time by a course of Bath waters. In 1796 the indefatigable musician published a life of Metastasio (in 3 vols.), after which he began to collect materials for a ‘Dictionary of Music,’ a work in which he was interrupted by his wife's death, which took place in October at Chelsea Hospital, where the Burneys were now living in rooms on the top story. To distract him from the state of depression which ensued, Madame d'Arblay persuaded her father to resume a poem on astronomy which he had begun several years previously, and this occupied him for some time, though it was ultimately destroyed unfinished. In 1800 he received another severe blow in the death of his daughter Susanna (the wife of Major Phillips). She died on 6 Jan., and was buried in Neston churchyard, where Burney placed an epitaph to her memory. During the next few years he was occupied in writing the musical biographies of Rees's ‘Encyclopædia,’ for which work he received the large sum of 1,000l. In 1806 Fox bestowed upon him a pension of 300l. Towards the end of the following year Burney was seized with a paralytic stroke. From this, however, he recovered sufficiently to set about collecting materials for his ‘Memoirs,’ a work he had already begun in 1782. After his death these were considered by his daughter too prolix and discursive for publication, but part of them is incorporated in the biography she published in 1832. In 1810 he was made a foreign member of the Institut de France. After 1805 Burney almost retired from the world, spending most of his time in reading in his bedroom. He had survived most of his contemporaries, and had lived to see his own descendants to the fourth generation. He died at Chelsea on 12 April 1814, and was buried on the 20th in the hospital burial-ground. A tablet to his memory, bearing an inscription by his daughter, was erected in Westminster Abbey. In person Burney was short and slight, with prominent eyes and expressive features. All his biographies testify to the charm of his manner and brilliancy of his conversation. His portrait was painted (1) by Reynolds's sister Frances; (2) by Reynolds for Mrs. Thrale, at whose sale it was bought by Charles Burney (1757–1817) [q. v.] (it now belongs to Archdeacon Burney; a replica is in the Music School, Oxford); (3) by Barry, as one of the renowned dead in the ‘Triumph of Thames’ in the large room of the Society of Arts. His bust was executed by Nollekens in 1805. There is also a caricature of him in a print entitled ‘A Sunday Concert,’ published 4 June 1785. The Reynolds picture was engraved by Bartolozzi (1 April 1784), in the ‘European Magazine’ (1 April 1785), in outline in ‘Public Characters’ (1798–9), and by H. Adlard in Busby's ‘Concert-room Anecdotes’ (vol. ii.) In addition to the works already mentioned, Burney published an edition of the music sung in the Sistine Chapel in Holy week, and several concertos, sonatas, &c., for harpsichord, organ, and stringed instruments, as well as a few songs and cantatas.
[Madame d'Arblay's Memoirs of Dr. Burney, 3 vols. 1832; Genest's History of the Stage; Parke's Musical Memoirs, ii. 91; Harmonicon for 1832, pp. 215, 239; Quarterly Musical Review, iv. 29; Add. MS. 29905; Registers of St. Dionis Backchurch (Harleian Society, 1879); Gent. Mag. 1814, i. 421, ii. 93; Brit. Mus. Cat. of Printed Books; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 700 a; Pohl's Mozart and Haydn in London, i. 16.]
W. B. S.
Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.43
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line
Page Col. Line
416 i 6 f.e. Burney, Charles: for 'The Coming Man' read 'The Cunning Man'
417 ii 9-8 f.e. for Reynolds, now . . . . Oxford read Reynolds for Mrs. Thrale, at whose sale it was bought by Charles Burney (1757-1817) [q. v.]; it now belongs to Archdeacon Burney; a replica is in the Music School, Oxford
418 i 12 omit Busby's Anecdotes, ii. 52
Encyclopædia Britannica 11th edition (1911)
BURNEY, CHARLES (1726–1814), English musical historian, was born at Shrewsbury on the 12th of April 1726. He received his earlier education at the free school of that city, and was afterwards sent to the public school at Chester. His first music master was Edmund Baker, organist of Chester cathedral, and a pupil of Dr John Blow. Returning to Shrewsbury when about fifteen years old, he continued his musical studies for three years under his half-brother, James Burney, organist of St Mary’s church, and was then sent to London as a pupil of the celebrated Dr Arne, with whom he remained three years. Burney wrote some music for Thomson’s Alfred, which was produced at Drury Lane theatre on the 30th of March 1745. In 1749 he was appointed organist of St Dionis-Backchurch, Fenchurch Street, with a salary of £30 a year; and he was also engaged to take the harpsichord in the “New Concerts” then recently established at the King’s Arms, Cornhill. In that year he married Miss Esther Sleepe, who died in 1761; in 1769 he married Mrs Stephen Allen of Lynn. Being threatened with a pulmonary affection he went in 1751 to Lynn in Norfolk, where he was elected organist, with an annual salary of £100, and there he resided for the next nine years. During that time he began to entertain the idea of writing a general history of music. His Ode for St Cecilia’s Day was performed at Ranelagh Gardens in 1759; and in 1760 he returned to London in good health and with a young family; the eldest child, a girl of eight years of age, surprised the public by her attainments as a harpsichord player. The concertos for the harpsichord which Burney published soon after his return to London were regarded with much admiration. In 1766 he produced, at Drury Lane, a free English version and adaptation of J. J. Rousseau’s operetta Le Devin du village, under the title of The Cunning Man. The university of Oxford conferred upon him, on the 23rd of June 1769, the degrees of Bachelor and Doctor of Music, on which occasion he presided at the performance of his exercise for these degrees. This consisted of an anthem, with an overture, solos, recitatives and choruses, accompanied by instruments, besides a vocal anthem in eight parts, which was not performed. In 1769 he published An Essay towards a History of Comets.
Amidst his various professional avocations, Burney never lost sight of his favorite object—his History of Music—and therefore resolved to travel abroad for the purpose of collecting materials that could not be found in Great Britain. Accordingly, he left London in June 1770, furnished with numerous letters of introduction, and proceeded to Paris, and thence to Geneva, Turin, Milan, Padua, Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples. The results of his observations he published in The Present State of Music in France and Italy (1771). Dr Johnson thought so well of this work that, alluding to his own Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, he said, “I had that clever dog Burney’s Musical Tour in my eye.” In July 1772 Burney again visited the continent, to collect further materials, and, after his return to London, published his tour under the title of The Present State of Music in Germany, the Netherlands and United Provinces (1773). In 1773 he was chosen a fellow of the Royal Society. In 1776 appeared the first volume (in 4to) of his long-projected History of Music. In 1782 Burney published his second volume; and in 1789 the third and fourth. Though severely criticized by Forkel in Germany and by the Spanish ex-Jesuit, Requeno, who, in his Italian work Saggi sul Ristabilimento dell’ Arte Armonica de’ Greci e Romani Cantori (Parma, 1798), attacks Burney’s account of the ancient Greek music, and calls him lo scompigliato Burney, the History of Music was generally recognized as possessing great merit. The least satisfactory volume is the fourth, the treatment of Handel and Bach being quite inadequate. Burney’s first tour was translated into German by Ebeling, and printed at Hamburg in 1772; and his second tour, translated into German by Bode, was published at Hamburg in 1773. A Dutch translation of his second tour, with notes by J. W. Lustig, organist at Groningen, was published there in 1786. The Dissertation on the Music of the Ancients, in the first volume of Burney’s History, was translated into German by J. J. Eschenburg, and printed at Leipzig, 1781. Burney derived much aid from the first two volumes of Padre Martini’s very learned Storia della Musica (Bologna, 1757–1770). One cannot but admire his persevering industry, and his sacrifices of time, money and personal comfort, in collecting and preparing materials for his History, and few will be disposed to condemn severely errors and oversights in a work of such extent and difficulty.
In 1774 he had written A Plan for a Music School. In 1779 he wrote for the Royal Society an account of the infant Crotch, whose remarkable musical talent excited so much attention at that time. In 1784 he published, with an Italian title-page, the music annually performed in the pope’s chapel at Rome during Passion Week. In 1785 he published, for the benefit of the Musical Fund, an account of the first commemoration of Handel in Westminster Abbey in the preceding year, with an excellent life of Handel. In 1796 he published Memoirs and Letters of Metastasio. Towards the close of his life Burney was paid £1000 for contributing to Rees’s Cyclopaedia all the musical articles not belonging to the department of natural philosophy and mathematics. In 1783, through the treasury influence of his friend Edmund Burke, he was appointed organist to the chapel of Chelsea Hospital, and he moved his residence from St Martin’s Street, Leicester Square, to live in the hospital for the remainder of his life. He was made a member of the Institute of France, and nominated a correspondent in the class of the fine arts, in the year 1810. From 1806 until his death he enjoyed a pension of £300 granted by Fox. He died at Chelsea College on the 12th of April 1814, and was interred in the burying-ground of the college. A tablet was erected to his memory in Westminster Abbey.
Burney’s portrait was painted by Reynolds, and his bust was cut by Nollekens in 1805. He had a wide circle of acquaintance among the distinguished artists and literary men of his day. At one time he thought of writing a life of his friend Dr Samuel Johnson, but he retired before the crowd of biographers who rushed into that field. His character in private as well as in public life appears to have been very amiable and exemplary. Dr Burney’s eldest son, James, was a distinguished officer in the royal navy, who died a rear-admiral in 1821; his second son was the Rev. Charles Burney, D.D. (1757–1817), a well-known classical scholar, whose splendid collection of rare books, and MSS. was ultimately bought by the nation for the British Museum; and his second daughter was Frances (Madame D’Arblay, q.v.).
The Diary and Letters of Madame D’Arblay contain many minute and interesting particulars of her father’s public and private life, and of his friends and contemporaries. A life of Burney by Madame D’Arblay appeared in 1832.
Besides the operatic music above mentioned, Burney’s known compositions consist of:—(1) Six Sonatas for the harpsichord; (2) Two Sonatas for the harp or piano, with accompaniments for violin and violoncello; (3) Sonatas for two violins and a bass: two sets; (4) Six Lessons for the harpsichord; (5) Six Duets for two German flutes; (6) Three Concertos for the harpsichord; (7) Six concert pieces with an introduction and fugue for the organ; (8) Six Concertos for the violin, &c., in eight parts; (9) Two Sonatas for pianoforte, violin and violoncello; (10) A Cantata, &c.; (11) Anthems, &c.; (12) XII. Canzonetti a due voci in Canone, poesia dell’ Abate Metastasio.