chapter  2
15 Pages

William Sterndale Bennett and the Bach Revival in Nineteenth-Century England

Although known to several musicians in England in the early nineteenth century, Johann Sebastian Bach's music was not often heard in public concerts. Little of his instrumental music had been published in England, or imported from Germany, but his organ works had been promoted through publication and performance by Samuel Wesley, who later gave sporadic concerts containing other genres of Bach's music. Wesley also converted other London musicians into Bach enthusiasts, among them William Crotch. When, in 1826, the ten-year-old William Sterndale Bennett was admitted to the Royal Academy of Music, it was Crotch who taught him piano and, later, composition; and he continued to do so until 1832. No doubt Bennett heard Crotch's lectures on music history, in which Bach was given prominence. The audience attracted to Bennett's chamber concerts, according to contemporary reports, was a mixture of professional musicians and accomplished amateur performers, including many of Bennett's own students from the Royal Academy of Music.