Samuel Sebastian Wesley

Donald Hunt
Publication Date: 
Thursday, February 23, 1995
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Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810-1876) is one of the most influential figures in English Cathedral Music. In rewriting the settings of the Canticles he revived devotion to that part of the service; he is also the author of many memorable anthems. Beyond composition, his influence was extended through controversial reforming pamphlets on the subject.

The illegitimate son of composer Samuel Wesley, grandson of Charles and great-nephew of John Wesley, Samuel Sebastian was a musical prodigy. He forsook London, however, to become organist at Leeds Parish Church and Exeter, Hereford, Winchester and Gloucester cathedrals. His career was marked by some notable successes, particularly as Conductor of the Three Choirs Festival on five occasions, but also setbacks due, in part, to his abrasive character.

Donald Hunt discusses fully Wesley’s life, music and writings, and offers an assessment of his position in the history of the Anglican Church and its music.

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