1st Edition

The Musical World of Charles Avison Melodic Charm and the Powers of Harmony

By Simon D.I. Fleming Copyright 2025
    312 Pages 69 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge


    This book explores the works and influence of the eighteenth-century British composer Charles Avison. Although he spent most of his life in the northern town of Newcastle upon Tyne, Avison went on to have a marked impact on the musical life of Britain during the second half of the eighteenth century. His concertos become part of the national concert repertory, while his critical treatise, An Essay on Musical Expression, shaped debates about musical aesthetics. This book provides the first sustained examination of Avison’s musical works and compositional techniques, and traces how his music not only drew on influences from European composers but reworked them and in turn influenced others. Considering Avison’s musical compositions, the circumstances around their composition and dissemination, and their place in music history, the author confronts preconceptions about the quality of Avison’s music, reveals new dimensions of his work as a composer, and demonstrates the enduring popularity and impact of his music. The author also draws on Avison’s writings to consider how closely he adheres to his own musical aesthetics. Reassessing Avison’s contribution to British music history, this study makes the case for understanding him as an important figure in the development and spread of musical styles across eighteenth-century England.

    Library Sigla

    List of Figures

    List of Musical Examples

    List of Tables

    Chapter 1. Introduction

    Chapter 2. Avison in Newcastle and London.

    Chapter 3. Earliest Works: the Opus 1 Trio Sonatas of 1737.

    Chapter 4. The First Concertos, 1740–47.

    Chapter 5. Reworkings and the Scarlatti Concertos of 1744.

    Chapter 6. Avison’s Vocal Music.

    Chapter 7. William Hayes and the Concertos Opus 3 and 4.

    Chapter 8. New Directions: The Accompanied Keyboard Sonatas Opus 5, 7 and 8.

    Chapter 9. Looking forwards: The Opus 6 Concertos of 1758 and Twenty Six Concertosin Score.

    Chapter 10. Looking Backwards: The Late Concertos, 1765–69.

    Chapter 11. The Reception of Avison’s Music during his Lifetime.

    Chapter 12. The Afterlife of Avison’s Music and his Reputation as a Musician.

    Chapter 13. Concluding Thoughts.



    Simon D. I. Fleming is a Durham-based teacher, organist and musicologist who previously taught in the Music Department at Durham University. His research focuses on music in eighteenth-century Britain, with a particular focus on the north of England. He has published articles in The Musical Times, The Consort, Early Music, The Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle and Eighteenth-Century Music, and has spoken at numerous conferences.