Greene, Maurice, Dr.

, an eminent English musician, was the son of the Rev. Thomas Greene, vicar of St. Clave Jewry, in London, and nephew of John Greene, serjeant at law. He was brought up in the choir of St. Paul, and when his voice broke was bound apprentice to

ind, the organist of that cathedral. He was early noticed as an elegant organ-player and composer for the church, and obtained the place of organist of St. Dunstan in the West before he was twenty years of age. In 1717, m the death of Daniel Purcel!, he was likewise elected organist of St. Andrew’s, Holborn; but the next year, his master, Brind, dying, Greene was appointed his successor by the dean and chapter of St. Paul’s; upon which event he quitted both the places he had previously obtained. In 1726, on the death of Dr. Crofts, he was appointed organist and composer to the chapel royal; and on the death of | Eccles, 1735, master of his majesty’s band. In 1750 he obtained the degree of doctor in music at Cambridge, and was appointed public music professor in the same university, in the room of Dr. Tudway. Greene was an intelligent man, a constant attendant at the opera, and an acute observer of the improvements in composition and performance, which Handel and the Italian singers employed in his dramas, had introduced into this country. His melody is therefore more elegant, and harmony more pure, than those of his predecessors, though less nervous and original. Greene had the misfortune to live in the age and neighbourhood of a musical giant, with whom he was utterly unable to contend, but by cabal and alliance with his enemies, Handel was but too prone to treat inferior artists with contempt; and for many years of his life never spoke of Greene without some injurious epithet. Greene’s figure was below the common size, and he had the misfortune to be very much deformed; yet his address and exterior manners were those of a man of the world, mild, attentive, and well-bred.

Greene had the honour, early in life, to teach the duchess of Newcastle, which, joined to his professional merit, and the propriety of his conduct, was the foundation of his favour with the prime minister and the nobility. In 1730, when the duke of Newcastle was installed chancellor of the university of Cambridge, he was appointed to set the ode, and then not only obtained his doctor’s degree, but, on the death of Dr. Tudway, he was honoured with the title of professor of music in that university. As an exercise for his degree, he set Pope’s ode for St. Cecilia’s day; having first had interest sufficient to prevail on the author to make new arrangements in the poem to render it more fit for music, and even to add an entire new stanza, between the second and third, which had never appeared in any of the printed editions.

Greene had sense and knowledge sufficient, in his younger days, to admire and respect the abilities of the two great musical champions, Handel and Bononcini, but owing probably to Handel’s contemptuous treatment of him, became a partizan on the side of Bononcini. Greene’s merit and connections were such, that he soon arrived at the most honourable appointments in his profession: for besides being organist of St. Paul’s, in 1727, on the death qf Dr. Croft, he was appointed organist and composer of | the chapel royal; and in 1735 he succeeded Eccles as composer to his majesty, and master of his band, in which station he set all the odes of the laureat Colley Gibber, as long as he lived.

The compositions of Dr. Greene were very numerous, particularly for the church. Early in his career he set a Te Deum, and part of the Song of Deborah, which were never printed; but the anthems and services which he produced for St. Paul’s and the king’s chapel he collected and published in two vols. folio; and of these the merit is so various as to leave them open to much discrimination and fair criticism. There is considerable merit of various kinds in his catches, canons, and two-part songs; the composition is clear, correct, and masterly; the melodies, for the times when they were produced, are elegant, and designs intelligent and ingenious. The collection of harpsichord lessons, which he published late in his life, though they discovered no great powers of invention, or hand, had its day of favour, as a boarding-school book; for being neither so elaborate as those of Handel, nor so difficult as the lessons of Scarlatti, or the sonatas of Alberti, they gave but little trouble either to the master or the scholar. During the last years of his life he began to collect the services and anthems of our old church composers, from the single parts used in the several cathedrals of the kingdom, in order to correct and publish them in score; a plan which he did not live to accomplish, but as he beueathed his papers to Dr. Boyce, it was afterwards exeuted in a very splendid and ample manner. Dr. Greene ied in 1755. 1

1

Barney and Hawkins’s Hist, of Music. Rees’s Cyclopædia by