Mary Anne à Beckett

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Born: 29 April 1815

Died: 11 December 1863


Mary Anne à Beckett was an English composer, primarily known for opera. She was the wife of the writer Gilbert à Beckett, who provided the libretti for two of her operas. Their children included the writers Gilbert Arthur à Beckett and Arthur William à Beckett. Her theatrical connections included her brother, the actor and producer impresario Augustus Glossop HarrisLink to the English Wikipedia article, and his eldest son, also an impresario, Sir Augustus HarrisLink to the English Wikipedia article.

Anne à Beckett was born in London, the eldest daughter of Joseph Glossop and his wife, Elizabeth, née Feron. Among their other children were the future actor and producer Augustus Glossop Harris, whose elder son was the impresario, Sir Augustus Harris. Glossop, a man of doubtful financial means, was at various times lessee of the Royal Coburg Theatre (now called the Old Vic), and manager of La Scala, Milan, and the Teatro San Carlo in Naples. His wife, the daughter of an émigré from the French Revolution, sang professionally under her maiden name, "Madame Feron".

In January 1835 Mary Anne married Gilbert Abbott à BeckettLink to the English Wikipedia article, a writer, and a magistrate. They had two daughters and four sons, including Gilbert Arthur à BeckettLink to the English Wikipedia article and Arthur William à BeckettLink to the English Wikipedia article.

Mary Anne à Beckett composed songs, piano pieces, incidental music, and three operas: Agnes Sorel (1835), Little Red Riding Hood (1842) and The Young Pretender (1846). The most successful of these was the first, described as "an operatic farce", loosely based on the life of Agnès Sorel, mistress of Charles VII of France. The piece, with words by the composer's husband, was the first production at John Braham's St James's Theatre in London in 1835. The anonymous reviewer in The Times dismissed the libretto as "cold, dull and comfortless", but praised some of the music as "evincing no inconsiderable share of taste and skill". The composer turned down the suggestion that she should conduct the performances herself, declining to make public appearances, but her sister made her debut, very successfully, in this production. Little Red Riding Hood, with a libretto by Gilbert à Beckett, opened at the Surrey Theatre in August 1842. A reviewer in The Musical World praised the music, and commented that though it was not conspicuously original it was "adroitly put together, and … is consequently preferable to some loftier doings in loftier places, which, in their aim to be very original, are far less pleasing in their material, and far more clumsily dovetailed."

The music for the last of her three operas The Young Pretender was, like that of its 1835 predecessor, better received than the libretto (which was by Mark Lemon). The Times praised "some pretty pieces of vocal music in light Italian style"; the reviewer in The Observer considered the score, "not original in its melodies nor scientific in its construction", but reserved his severest censure for Lemon's libretto: "as dreary a production as it is possible to imagine in any work professing to be a drama". The following year she published The Music Book, a collection of twenty original songs, quadrilles and waltzes by her and her male British contemporaries.

View the Wikipedia article on Mary Anne à Beckett.

List of choral works

Operas and incidental music

  • Agnes Sorel, opera. 1836, St James's Theatre London
  • Incidental music to Mabel's Curse by Anna Maria Fielding, 1837, St James's Theatre
  • Incidental music (with George Stansbury) to Wanted, a Brigand, or, A visit from Fra-Diavolo, 1837. Musical burletta in one act by Gilbert A'Beckett, St James's Theatre.
  • Little Red Riding Hood. A Fairy Opera, 1842, Surrey Theatre, London
  • The Young Pretender, musical play with a libretto by Mark Lemon, 1846, Haymarket Theatre, London.

Songs and duets

  • "Vainly to me of love you speak". Duet. Words by Gilbert A'Beckett. c 1840
  • "Farewell dear scenes". Ballad. 1842
  • "Wherefore maiden art thou straying?" .Rondo.1842
  • "Tis not the sparkling diadem". Ballad. 1842
  • "When mem'ry through the mist of tears". 1843
  • "Dear scenes of happier hours". Ballad. 1845
  • "My home must be where'er thou art". Words by Mark Lemon, 1846
  • "I dream of thee". Song. Words by Barry Cornwall. 1847
  • "Love me if I live". Song. Words by Barry Cornwall. 1847
  • "My home must be where'er thou art". Song. Words by Mark Lemon. 1847
  • "Lightly won is lightly held". Duett. Words by Mark Lemon. 1847
  • "A maiden from her lonely bow'r". Ballad. Words by Mark Lemon. 1847
  • "One kindly word before we part. Ballad. Words by Mark Lemon. 1847
  • "Ne'er think that I'll forget thee". Words by the composer. Ballad. 1850
  • "It is o'er, that happy dream". Ballad. Words by Bertie Vyse. 1851
  • "Do not smile". Ballad. Words by J D Douglas. 1851
  • "And must we then in silence meet". Ballad. Words by the composer. 1851
  • "Dear scenes of happier hours". Ballad. Words by Gilbert A'Beckett. 1854
  • "Oh! come again sweet summertime". Ballad. Words by William A'Beckett. 1854
  • "Take back thy gift". Ballad. Words by Gilbert A'Beckett. 1854
  • "Dear scenes of happier hours". Ballad. Words by Gilbert A'Beckett.1854
  • "Dear Italy". Ballad. Words by Gilbert A'Beckett. 1856
  • "Dear old England". A patriotic song. Words by Mrs. V Roberts. 1859

Piano pieces

  • "The Casino Waltz". 1847
  • "The Ridotto Waltz". 1847
  • "The Royal Nursery Quadrilles, or Popular Nursery Tunes". 1851.


External links

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