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Samuel Arnold (8/10/1740 - 10/22/1802)

The most prolific composer of the London stage of the late eighteenth century, Samuel Arnold was also a popular composer for London’s pleasure gardens. He wrote songs (gratis) for Vauxhall during the 1760s when he was establishing his reputation and all-sung burlettas for Marylebone during the time he was owner-proprietor (1769-1774). Arnold’s Six Overtures, Op.8, were undoubtedly composed for Marylebone: they were published in parts by John Welcker around 1771 (lost) and reissued by Longman & Broderip a decade later; a keyboard version (with minor variants) testifies to their popularity as home entertainment.

Samuel Arnold was born in London, the son of Thomas Arnold and probably Princess Amelia, Handel’s pupil. He studied under Bernard Gates, a student of John Blow, at the Chapel Royal, and from the mid 1760s he was an active composer for the summer gardens concerts. Arnold began his theatrical activities in 1764 and within a decade established his reputation, particularly with The Maid of the Mill (1765), the first modern English opera with an action finale, and The Prodigal Son, an oratorio performed at the Oxford University encaenia in 1773.

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