Alfred James Caldicott
Born: 26 November 1842
Died: 24 October 1897
Biography Alfred James Caldicott (1842–1897) was born at Worcester, England. At age nine he became a choirboy in the cathedral, eventually becoming the leading treble, then became assistant to the cathedral organist when his voice broke at age fourteen. He spent two years studying at the Leipzig Conservatorium, returning to Worcester and became organist at St. Stephen’s as well as teaching and conducting a musical society he established. In 1878 he graduated from Cambridge and experienced his first notable success as a composer. His humorous glee “Humpty Dumpty” was awarded a special prize at a competition by the Manchester Glee Society. In 1879 his serious glee “Winter Days” won the prize offered by the Huddersfield Glee and Madrigal Union. In 1882 Caldicott settled in London and began to compose operettas. He went to the United States in 1890 as conductor to Miss Agnes Huntingdon’s light opera company. Returning to England in 1892, he was appointed principal of the London College of Music and became conductor at the Comedy Theatre. Incessant work overtaxed his strength and he died near Gloucester in 1897. His humorous novelty combining a nursery rhyme with clever music in “Humpty Dumpty” was so successful that he composed another in the same year, “Jack and Jill,” and later “Little Jack Horner.” Other composers imitated him for a time. He set these rhymes in a witty style, with full use of contrast and the opportunities afforded by individual words—for instance, the descent of all voices through the interval of an eleventh at the words “Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.”
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List of choral works
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