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Hullah, John Pyke

HULLAH, JOHN PYKE (1812-1884), English composer and teacher of music, was born at Worcester on the 27th June 1812. He was a pupil of William Horsley from 1829, and entered the Royal Academy of Music in 1833. He wrote an opera to words by Dickens, The Village Coquettes, produced in 1836; The Barbers of Bassora in 1837, and The Outpost in 1838, the last two at Covent Garden. From 1839, when he went to Paris to investigate various systems of teaching music to large masses of people, he identified himself with Wilhem's system of the "fixed Do," and his adaptation of that system was taught with enormous success from 1840 to 1860. In 1847 a large building in Long Acre, called St Martin's Hall, was built by subscription and presented to Hullah. It was inaugurated in 1850 and burnt to the ground in 1860, a blow from which Hullah was long in recovering. He had risked his all in the maintenance of the building, and had to begin the world again. A series of lectures was given at the Royal Institution in 1861, and in 1864 he lectured in Edinburgh, but in the following year was unsuccessful in his application for the Reid professorship. He conducted concerts in Edinburgh in 1866 and 1867, and the concerts of the Royal Academy of Music from 1870 to 1873; he had been elected to the committee of management in 1869. In 1872 he was appointed by the Council of Education musical inspector of training schools for the United Kingdom. In 1878 he went abroad to report on the condition of musical education in schools, and wrote a very valuable report, quoted in the memoir of him published by his wife in 1886. He was attacked by paralysis in 1880, and again in 1883. His compositions, which remained popular for some years after his death in 1884, consisted mainly of ballads; but his importance in the history of music is owing to his exertions in popularizing musical education, and his persistent opposition to the Tonic Sol-Fa system, which had a success he could not foresee. His objections to it were partly grounded on the character of the music which was in common use among the early teachers of the system. While it cannot be doubted that Hullah would have won more success if he had not opposed the Tonic Sol-Fa movement so strenuously, it must be confessed that his work was of great value, for he kept constantly in view and impressed upon all who followed him or learnt from him the supreme necessity of maintaining the artistic standard of the music taught and studied, and of not allowing trumpery compositions to usurp the place of good music on account of the greater ease with which they could be read.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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