Singers and Musical Personalities ~ Sir George Thomas Smart (1776–1867)

1.    Smart

Sir George Thomas Smart 1776–1867

1.    Sir George Thomas Smart (1776–1867) by John Cawse Oil on canvas, 762 x 635 mm.  Original in The Foundling Museum.  [Image in the public domain.]

Sir George Thomas Smart (1776–1867) was a conductor and editor (particularly of Handel). George Thomas Smart was born in London in May 1776, son of George Smart, a music-seller, and his wife Ann (born Embrey).

He was a chorister at the Chapel Royal, St. James's, and learnt music at various times from Ayrton, Dupuis. J. B. Cramer, and Arnold. He sang at the first Handel commemoration festival at Westminster Abbey, 1784, and conducted the last there in 1834.  At fifteen he left the choir and became organist to St. James's Chapel, Hampstead Road; he often played the violin in Salomon's band, and taught singing.

In 1811 Smart visited Dublin to conduct a series of concerts, and was knighted by the Duke of Richmond, lord lieutenant of Ireland. In 1813 he became an original member of the Philharmonic Society, for which he often conducted.  For thirteen years (1813–25) he was conductor of the city concerts and the Lent oratorios, at which in 1814 he produced for the first time in England Beethoven's Mount of Olives in his own arrangement. In 1822 Smart became joint organist of the Chapel Royal, St. James's, and afterwards went to Vienna to consult Beethoven as to the correct tempi of the movements of his symphonies.

On his return he was appointed musical director of Covent Garden under Charles Kemble. With Kemble, he subsequently visited Weber in Germany. They induced that composer to come to England and produce a new opera, Oberon, there. Weber died in Smart's house in Great Portland Street, in 1826; and Smart was mainly instrumental in erecting the Weber statue in Dresden.

[Text based on biography by Robin Humphrey Legge in the Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 52.]


2. Smart


Sir George Thomas Smart 1776–1867

2. Sir George Smart 1776–1867 c.1840 by unknown artist. Oil on canvas, 600 x 510 mm.  The Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain, London .  [This image in the public domain.]

In 1824 Smart conducted the first Norwich festival, and in 1836 he produced for the first time in England Mendelssohn's St. Paul at Liverpool. Two years later he became composer to the Chapel Royal, and conducted the music at the funeral of George IV, and at the coronations of William IV and Queen Victoria.

In course of time Smart was conductor of nearly all the principal provincial festivals, and was presented with the freedom of Dublin and Norwich in recognition of his musical attainments. He was a life governor of the Norwich Great Hospital, and was grand organist of the ‘Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons.’ He was much sought after as a teacher of singing almost to the end of his days.

Smart had a wide knowledge of the Handelian traditions, obtained from singers who had appeared under Handel. He was a fine conductor, and his abundant notes to the Norwich festival programmes he conducted attest his scrupulous care. He wrote some church music and glees, and edited Gibbons's first set of madrigals, and Handel's Dettingen Te Deum for the Musical Antiquarian Society.

[Text based on Dictionary of National Biography: From the Earliest Times to 1900.]


Smart Anecdotes

Top ~ Bastille Day, 1800  ~  Death of Malibran  ~  A Visit to Dublin  ~  A Letter from Mendelssohn

Top  ~