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James Hook


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James Hook (b.June 3,1746 - 1827: This most prolific composer was born in Maddermarket, Norwich, England. His father, also James Hook, was a razor grinder and cutlery maker. Young James had a club foot and was known as ‘The Cripple of Maddermarket’, but he showed a keen ear for music, and whilst still a young man was appointed Organist at the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens in London. Here he wrote many of his works, and was expected to perfom a ‘new’ organ concerto every night! His great legacy, apart from the song “The Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill” and the first clarinet concerto (or one of the first) to be written by an English composer, was many teaching pieces and sonatinas written in the popular ‘Galant’ style. Hook was appointed organist and composer to Marylebone Gardens in 1769 and held an annual festival there each summer. Hook’s music was extremely popular and he rapidly became wealthy, and always encouraged young musicians. He was friendly with Clementi, Haydn, and his comtemporaries William Boyce and John Stanley. Much loved by his contemporaries, he is remembered as being a generous and jovial man, devoted to his family. Following the death of his wife he became withdrawn and depressed and migrated to Boulogne, France, where he died in poverty. His son Theodore Hook was an author.

Notable Works
Oratorio: The Ascension(1776)
Opera: The Double Disguise(1784), Jack of Newbury(1795), Diamond Cut Diamond(1797),

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