Nares, James

, doctor of music, an eminent composer and teacher in that science, under whom some of the first musicians of the present day received the whole or part of their education, was tfce son of Mr. Nares, who was, for many years, steward to Montague and Willoughby, earl* of Abingdon. He was born, as well as his brother, the late Mr. Justice Nares, at Stanwell in Middlesex; the former in 1715, the latter in 1716. His musical education he commenced under Mr. Gates, then master of the royal choristers; and completed it under the celebrated Dr. Pepusch. Thus prepared, he officiated, for some time, as deputy to Mr. Pigott, organist of Windsor; but, on the resignation of Mr. Salisbury, organist of York, in 1734, was chosen to succeed him, being then only nineteen. It is related, on undoubted authority, that, when the old musician first saw his intended successor, he said, rather angrily, “What! is that child to succeed me?” which being mentioned to the organist-elect, he took an early opportunity, on a difficult service being appointed, to play it throughout half a note below the pitch, which brought it into a key with seven sharps; and went through it without the slightest error. Being asked why he did so, he said, that “he only wished to shew Mr. Salisbury what a child could do.” His knowledge in all branches of his profession was equal to his practical skill in this instance; and, during his residence at York, where he was abundantly employed as a teacher, and where he married, Mr. Nares, by his good conduct, as well as professional merit, obtained many powerful friends. Among the foremost of these was Dr. Fontayne, the late venerable dean of York; who, when Dr. Green died, towards the latter end of 1755, exerted his interest so successfully, that he obtained for him the united places of | organist and composer to his majesty. He removed, therefore, to London in the beginning of 1756; and, about the same time, was created doctor in music at Cambridge.

On the resignation of Mr. Gates, in 1757, Dr. Nares obtained also the place of master of the choristers; which having been, for a long time, without increase, notwithstanding the increase of expences attending it, was, by royal favour, augmented about 1775, first with the salary of the violist, and, on the revival of that place for Mr. Crosdill, in 1777, with that of lutanist, which was annexed to it for ever. It was in this situation, that Dr. Nares superintended the education of many pupils, who have since become famous particularly Dr. Arnold, who, though with him only for a short time, was highly distinguished by him for talents and application. The anthems and services which Dr. Nares produced, as composer to the royal chapel, were very numerous; many of them have since been printed, and many which exist only in ms. still continue to be performed in the choirs with much effect. Having been originally a musician rather by accident than choice, with very strong talents and propensities also for literature, Dr. Nares was particularly attentive to express the sense of the words he undertook to set; and was the first who attempted to compose the Te Deum, for the choir- service, in such a manner as to set off the sentiments it contains to advantage. Before his lime, it had been set rather to a regular strain of chaunt than to any expressive melodies. The merits of Dr. Nares were not overlooked by his royal patrons, whom he had occasionally the honour to attend in private, though not a part of his regular duty. To manifest his respect and gratitude for them, he composed his dramatic ode, entitled “The Royal Pastoral,” the words of which were written by Mr. Bellamy, author of a book entitled “Ethic Amusements.” In July 1780, Dr. Nares was obliged, by declining health, to resign the care of the choristers, in which place he was succeeded by Dr. Ayrton, his pupil and valued friend. In his sixty-eighth year, a constitution, never robust, gave way, and he died on Feb. 10, 1783, deeply regretted by his affectionate family, of which the present representative, the rev. Robert Nares, archdeacon of Stafford, is well known in the literary world, and not more known than respected. Testimony has been borne to the merits of Dr. | Nares by several writers, but more particularly by Mr. Mason, in his preface to a book of anthems, printed for the use of York-cathedral; and, in his late Essays on Church Music, p. 138. The late lord Mornington, so well known for musical talents, frequently consulted him; and sir John Hawkins derived advantage from his acquaintance, in the progress of his “History of Music.” Throughout life, he was not less respected as a man than admired as a musician; he had a vivacity that rendered his society always pleasing; and a generous contempt for every thing base, that manifested itself on all proper occasions, and very justly commanded esteem.

His printed works are these 1 “Eight sets of Lessons for the Harpsichord dedicated to the right honourable Willoughby earl of Abingdon printed in 1748, reprinted in 1757.” 2. “Five Lessons for the Harpsichord, with a sonata in score for the harpsichord or organ; dedicated to the right honourable the countess of Carlisle;” published in 1758 or 1759. 3. “A set of easy Lessons for the Harpsichord,” three in number; with a dedication to the public, signed J. N. 4. “A Treatise on Singing,” small size. 5. “II Principio” or “.A regular introductionto playing on the Harpsichord or Organ.” This was the first set of progressive lessons published on a regular plan. 6. “The Royal Pastoral, a dramatic ode; dedicated to his royal highness the prince of Wales; printed in score, with an overture and choruses. 7.” Catches, Canons, and Glees; dedicated to the late lord Mornington.“8.” Six Fugues, with introductory voluntaries forMhe Organ or Harpsichord.“9.A concise and easy treatise on Singing, with a set of English Duets for beginners;“- a different work from the former small treatise. 10.” Twenty Anthems, in score, for one, two, three, four, and rive voices composed for the use of his majesty’s chapels royal,“1778. 11.” Six, easy Anthems, with a favourite Morning and Evening Service,“left for publication at his death, and published in 1738, with a portrait and a concise account of the author. Of these compositions the following short character is given by an eminent musician, to whom they are all well known.” The Lessons are composed in a masterly and pleasing style; free from those tricks and unmeaning successions of semitones, to which a good ear and sound judgment never can be reconciled. The treatises on singing contain duets composed for the use of the | children of the royal chapels, superior to any thing yet published and such as every teacher ought to peruse. His catches, canons, and glees, are natural and pleasing especially the glee to all Lovers of Harmony, which gained the prize-medal at the catch-club in 1770. The Royal Pastoral is composed throughout in a very masterly manner; particularly the choruses, with which each part concludes. This ode, containing 108 pages, was written, and all the vocal and instrumental parts transcribed for performing, within twelve days. The six fugues, with introductory voluntaries for the organ, contain the strongest proofs of ingenuity and judgment; few, if any, have ever been written that can be preferred to them. In both sets of the anthems, the same characteristics appear; and the service in the latter very justly acquired the title of favourite; nor can there be any doubt that the works of this author will be admired as long as a taste for music shall subsist."

Besides the pieces above mentioned, a complete set of church services, in the key of F, and three full anthems, were published in 1790, by Dr. Arnold, in his “Collection of Cathedral Music,” vol. III. In these services the doctor first displayed his great skill in setting words. Several other compositions of much merit still remain in manuscript. The chief of these are an “Ode on the Death of Handel, in score, with choruses” and a great part of Dr. Brown’s “Cure of Saul,” composed as a regular oratorio; from which work Dr. Nares desisted out of regard to his friend and pupil, Dr. Arnold, by whom it was also undertaken, and completed in a masterly manner. 1


Written for the last edition of this Dictionary from private and authentic information.