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Bound for America

Three British Composers


Publication Year: 2003

Nicholas Temperley documents the lives, careers, and music of three British composers who emigrated from England in mid-career and became leaders in the musical life of Federal-era America. William Selby of London and Boston (1738-98), Rayner Taylor of London and Philadelphia (1745-1825), and George K. Jackson of London, New York, and Boston (1757-1822) were among the first trained professional composers to make their homes in America and to pioneer the building of an art-music tradition in the New World akin to the esteemed European "classical" music. Temperley compares their lives, careers, and compositional styles in the two countries and reflects on American musical nationalism and the changing emphasis in American musical historiography.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Series: Music in American Life


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pp. 1-3

Title Page

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pp. 4-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

In this book I tell the stories of three British-born composers who, although well established in their native country, decided in middle life to change their domicile and to begin a second composing career in the United States. They are William Selby (1738–98), who arrived in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1773 and made his career in Boston; ...


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pp. xi-xiv

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One: Emigrants and Immigrants

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pp. 1-11

American musical life in the early federal period was active and varied, but it harbored few professional musicians. The term “professional” can be used either to indicate a certain level of training and proficiency or to denote a musician who expects payment and attempts to make a living by his art. ...

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Two: William Selby

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pp. 12-51

William Selby (1738–1798) gave up a moderately successful career as a London organist and composer, and emigrated to New England in 1773, where, after Independence, he achieved a position of musical leadership. He represented the styles and aesthetics of British, and hence European, art music, as opposed to the country or “native” school, ...

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Three: Rayner Taylor

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pp. 52-122

Rayner Taylor (1747–1825) was already forty-four years old when he crossed the ocean, and had come closer to achieving eminence in Great Britain than any other America-bound musician. Possibly the most gifted of our three composers, he arrived in Philadelphia too late in life to make the mark he deserved in the competitive musical world of that thriving city. ...

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Four: George K. Jackson

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pp. 123-194

George Knowil Jackson (1757–1822) was one of the most talented composers among the group of British immigrants. In America he was venerated as a learned musician, but he failed to translate this reputation into financial success, and his motive for coming to America is hard to discern. ...

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pp. 195-204

To migrate to America in the eighteenth century was not a step that any musician would take lightly. One who had a secure niche in the Old World would not be inclined to give it up for the unknown risks of the New, where earning a living was hard and unpredictable, and permanent appointments were virtually unknown. ...


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pp. 205-220


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pp. 221-228


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pp. 229-236

E-ISBN-13: 9780252092640
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252075957

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2003

Series Title: Music in American Life