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Whitfield, John Clarke

WHITFIELD, JOHN CLARKE (1770-1836), English organist and composer, was born at Gloucester on the 13th of December 1770, and educated at Oxford under Dr Philip Hayes. In 1789 he was appointed organist of the parish church at Ludlow. Four years later he took the degree of Mus. Bac. at Cambridge, and in 1795 he was chosen organist of Armagh cathedral, whenc he removed in the same year to Dublin, with the appointments of organist and master of the children at St Patrick's cathedral and Christchurch. Driven from Ireland by the rebellion of 1798, he accepted the post of organist at Trinity and St John's Colleges, Cambridge, and about the same time assumed the surname of Whitfield, in addition to that of Clarke, by which he had beer previously known. He took the degree of Mus. Doc. at Cambridg in 1799, and in 1810 proceeded to the same grade at Oxford. In 1820 he was elected organist and master of the chorister at Hereford cathedral; and on the death of Dr Haig he was appointed professor of music at Cambridge. Three years afterwards he resigned these appointments in consequence of attack of paralysis. He died at Hereford, on the 22nd February 1836.

Whitfield's compositions were very numerous. Among the of them are four volumes of anthems, published in 1805. He als_ composed a great number of songs, one of which " Bird of the Wilderness," written to some well-known verses by James Hogg, the " Ettrick Shepherd " attained a high degree of popularity. But the great work of his life was the publication, in a popular and eminently useful form, of the oratorios of Handel, which he was the first to present to the public with a complete pianoforte accompaniment.

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

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