1st Edition

Samuel Wesley (1766–1837): A Source Book

By Michael Kassler, Philip Olleson Copyright 2001
    776 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Hailed as a child prodigy and later acclaimed as England's finest extempore organist, Samuel Wesley - son of Charles Wesley and nephew of John Wesley, the founders of Methodism - is best known today for his musical compositions and for his promotion of the music of J. S. Bach. At the heart of this source book is a calendar of Samuel Wesley's correspondence. The editors date and summarise the content of over 1100 surviving letters and other documents, most of which have not previously been published. The book accordingly reveals considerable new information about Wesley and his complex personal affairs, including his incarceration for debt and his confinement in a lunatic asylum for a year. Many details are provided about London musical life in the era from Boyce to Mendelssohn that prior scholars have not taken into account. The book also presents a chronology of Wesley's life, a descriptive list of his nearly 550 musical and literary works, a discography, an iconography and a bibliography. It therefore is the most comprehensive available reference source for Wesley's life, times and music.

    Contents: Preface; Prelude: Wesley's family; Wesley's homes and addresses; Chronology: Significant events in Wesley's life; Calendar of Correspondence: Introduction; New information arising from the correspondence; History and prior publication of the correspondence; Calendar of dated correspondence; Calendar of undated correspondence; Calendar of doubtful correspondence; Musical Works: Introduction; History of the music manuscripts; Sacred vocal music; Secular vocal music; Orchestral music; Chamber music; Organ music; Harpsichord and pianoforte music; Dedicatees; Discography; Wesley's editions and arrangements; Literary Works: Printed works; Manuscript works; Portraits: Iconography; Verbal portraits; Bibliography: Wesley's library; Publications about Wesley; Index to the calendar of correspondence.


    Michael Kassler is Managing Director of Michael Kassler and Associates, Australia and Philip Olleson is Emeritus Professor of Historical Musicology in the Department of Music at the University of Nottingham, UK

    'This is a splendid book handsomely produced by Ashgate... Wesley scholars will certainly be indebted to Kassler and Olleson for many years to come...' Theological Book Review

    'Kassler and Olleson's book will serve as an important reference source for research on Wesley. The information is accurate and the indexing clean. Highly recommended without reservations for academic collections, all levels.' Choice

    '...not only a landmark contribution to Wesley studies, but certainly one of the year's most distinguished pieces of English-language musical scholarship.' The American Organist

    '...the scope of the sources employed is impressive...for the first time, we can appreciate the full extent of Samuel Wesley's oeuvre ...of considerable value as a reference book...clarity and logic ooze from its pages...(the) approach is sensible, reliable and accessible.'  The Musical Times

    '... this book is the first extensive résumé of the more intimate details of this influential composer/performer... a rigorously researched and detailed chronological compilation of Samuel Wesley's correspondence and compositions. Our understanding of the musical scene in early eighteenth-century England can only be further enhanced by this important source of documentation of a musician, who was without doubt, one of the most fascinating and influential during his time.' Musicology Australia

    '...if you wish to know more, here is all and in abundance. Elegantly produced and documented, so that you can readily dip in and find what you need, it is laudible that such detailed information on Wesley's life and work is now readily available; this is a real bonanza.' Organists' Review

    '...a distinctive contribution to Wesley scholarship...' The Tracker, Journal of the Organ Historical Society

    'I have no doubt that it will remain the definitive reference book for Samuel Wesley's life and works for the foreseeable future...This is a commendably comprehensive and useful resource and is a remarkable achievement.' Church Music Quarterly

    '... an outstanding scholarly resource that will interest greatly scholars from music to history to religion... an extremely useful, immaculately prepared guide to the letters and many things about Wesley's life.' Journal of Anglican and Episcopal History

    '... this book is most welcome.' Early Music Review

    'Congratulations are in order for a splendid reference work...' Friends of the Library, University of Melbourne

    '... provide[s] access to primary sources on the life and accomplishments of one of the important musicians of the late 18th and early 19th century.' Methodist History

    '... a work of immense accumulated scholarship and encyclopedic comprehensiveness.' Burney Letter

    '... Kassler and Olleson have handed to current and potential scholars of the life and times of Samuel Wesley clear and plentiful blocks with which to construct a useful account of this 'extraordinary life' and the general intellectual and artistic milieu in which it so painfully endured... will contribute significantly to both knowledge and understanding of all of the Wesleys; upon removing it from the shelf, the reader quickly will become intrigued with both an extraordinary person and musician, as well as with the inescapable presence of his extended family, friends, and associates. With this work, the authors have indeed fulfilled the principal requisites of legitimate scholarship, while at the same time satisfying the demands of scholarly inquirers.' ASECS Book Reviews Online

    'The time is thus ripe for a thorough critical evaluation of his life and achievement, and Michael Kassler and Philip Olleson are to be warmly thanked for their timely publication of Samuel Wesley (1766–1837): A Source Book... we now have an impressive reference tool at hand to enhance our knowledge of Samuel Wesley, and one that, because of its extent and depth of content, will serve scholars, performers and more general readers for many years to come.' The Consort