Lock, Matthew

, an eminent English musical composer in the time of Charles II. was a native of Exeter, and became a chorister in the cathedral of that city. He had afterwards instructions in music from Edward Gibbons; and had so much distinguished himself as a professor of abilities, that we are told he was appointed to compose the music for the public entry of the king at the restoration.

He seems first to have appeared as an author in 1657, during the interregnum, by the publication of his “little consort of three parts for viols or violins, consisting of pavans, ayres, corants, sarabands, in two several varieties, the first twenty of which are for two trebles and a base.” Some of his compositions appear in the second part of John Playford’s continuation of Hilton’s “Catch that catch can,” in 1667; and among them the most pleasing of Lock’s compositions, “Never trouble thyself about times or their turnings,” a glee for three voices. He was the first Who attempted dramatic music for the English stage, if we except the masques that were performed at court, and at the houses of the nobility, in the time of Charles I. and during the reign of Charles II. When musical dramas were first attempted, which Dryden calls heroic plays and dramatic operas, Lock was employed to set most of them, particularly the semi-operas, as they were called, the Tempest, Macbeth,] and Psyche, translated from the French of | Moliere, by Shadwell. The Tempest and Psyche were printed in 1675, and dedicated to James duke of Monmouth. There is a preface of some length by Lock, which, like his music, is rough and nervous, exactly corresponding with the idea which is generated of his private character, by the perusal of his controversy with Salmon, and the sight of his picture in the music-school at Oxford. It is written with that natural petulance which probably gave birth to most of the quarrels in which he was involved. It includes, however, a short history of these early attempts at dramatic music on our stage, in which, as in the most successful representations of this kind in later times, the chief part of the dialogue was spoken, and recitative, or musical declamation, which seems to be the true criterion and characteristic of Italian operas, but seldom used, unless merely to introduce some particular airs and choruses. Upon examining this music, it appears to have been very much composed on Lulli’s model. The melody is neither recitative nor air, but partaking of both, with a change of measure as frequent as in any old French opera which we ever saw.

Lock had genius and abilities in harmony sufficient to have surpassed his model, or to have casthis movements in a mould of his own making but such was the passion af Charles II. and consequently of his court, at this time, for every thing French, that in all probability Lock was instructed to imitate Cambert and Lulli. His music for the witches in Macbeth, which, when produced in 1674, was as smooth and airy as any of the time, has now obtained by age, that wild and savage cast which is admirably suited to the characters that are supposed to perform it.

In the third introductory music to the Tempest, which is called a curtain tune, probably from the curtain being first drawn up during the performance of this species of overture, he has, for the first time that is come to one knowledge, introduced the use of crescendo (louder by degrees), with diminuendo and lentando, under the words soft and slow by degrees. No other instruments are mentioned in the score of his opera of Psyche, than violins for the ritornels; and yet, so slow was the progress of that instrument during the last century, that in a general catalogue of music in 1701, scarce any compositions appear to have been printed for its use. | This musician was of so irascible a disposition, that he seems never to have been without a quarrel or two on his hands. For his furious attack on Salmon, for proposing to reduce all the clefs in music to one, he had a quarrel with the gentlemen of the chapel royal, early in Charles II.'s reign. Being composer in ordinary to the king, he produced for the chapel royal a morning-service, in which he set the prayer after each of the ten commandments to different music from that to which the singers had been long accustomed, which was deemed an unpardonable innovation, and on the first day of April, 1666, at the performance of it before the king, there was a disturbance and an obstruction for some time to the performance. To convince the public that it was not from the meanness or inaccuracy of the composition that this impediment to its performance happened, Lock thought it necessary to print the whole service; and it came abroad in score on a single sheet, with a long and laboured vindication, by way of preface, under the following title, “Modern church musick pre-accused, censured, and obstructed in its performance before his majesty.” Lock was long suspected of being a Roman catholic, and it is probable that this new service, by leaning a little more towards the mass than the service of the 1 protestant cathedral, may have given offence to some zealous members of the church of England.

The public were indebted to Lock for the first rules that were ever published in England, for a basso continuo, or thorough base; these rules he gave the world, in a book entitled “Melothesia,London, 1673, oblong 4to. It is dedicated to Roger L‘Estrange, esq. afterwards sir Roger L’Estrange, himself a good musician, and an encourager of its professors. It contains, besides the thorough-bass rules, some lessons for the harpsichord and organ, by Lock himself, and others. He was author likewise of several songs printed in “The Treasury of Music,” “The Theatre of Music,” and other collections of songs. In the 4atter of these is a dialogue, “When death shall part us from these kids,” which, with Dr. Blow’s “Go, perjured man,” was ranked among the best vocal compositions of the time.

It is presumed that when he was appointed composer in ordinary to the king, he was professionally a member of the church of England; but it is certain that he went over to the Romish communion afterwards, and became | organist to queen Catherine of Portugal, the consort of Charles II. and died a papist in 1677.1

1 Buruey and Hawkins’s Hist, of Music, aud Barney ia the Cyclopædia.