Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Burney, Charles, Mus. Doc., was born at Shrewsbury in 1726. He got a good early education at the grammar school there, and was then sent to Chester to learn the organ under Dr. Blow, subsequently being trained for three years by the famous Dr. Arne. For a short time he was organist at a City church, and wrote for Drury Lane theatre the music of Robin Hood, Alfred, and Queen Mab. In 1751 by medical advice he settled as organist at King's Lynn, where he remained nine years and married. Returning to London in 1760 he adopted Rousseau's Le Devin du Village for the English stage under the title of The Coming Man, and received a doctor's degree from the University of Oxford, composing for the occasion almost his only specimen of church music. He now devoted himself to a long cherished object, the writing of a complete history of music. In 1770 he travelled through France and Italy collecting materials, and his book on The Present State of Music in those countries won Dr. Johnson's approbation. In 1772 he did the same for Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Provinces, and was elected F.R.S. The first volume of his great work, The History of Music, appeared in 1776, and it was completed in 1789. Defective in certain parts, and severely treated by foreign critics, it testifies to unflagging industry and wide knowledge. In 1789, through Burke's influence, he was appointed organist at Chelsea Hospital, where he died in 1814. He wrote a Life of Handel and Memoirs of Metastasio, and composed many sonatas and concertos. His second daughter, Frances [D'Arblay], attained great fame as a novelist; his eldest son, James, became a distinguished admiral, and another son, Charles, was a fine classical scholar, whose library now forms part of the collection in the British Museum.