1773. Mus. Bac. and Mus. Doc. Samuel Arnold was offered these
degrees by the University, and was asked to allow his
Oratorio "The Prodigal Son" to be performed for the
installation of Lord North as Chancellor. Arnold, however,
declined the offer, saying he wished to take the degree in the
On his sending his exercise to Dr. Hayes,
the Professor, the latter returned it unopened, saying that it
was unnecessary to examine an exercise by the composer of
"The Prodigal Son." Arnold was born in 1740, and was
educated at the Chapel Royal under Nares and Gates. In
1773 he was engaged by Beard as composer to Covent
Garden, and in 1775 brought out the "Maid of the Mill,"
the first of a long series of pasticcios.*
He also composed
In 1769 and the succeeding three years
he lost £10,000 over the production of operas and burlettas
at Marylebone Gardens.
In 1783 he succeeded Nares as
Organist and Composer to the Chapel Royal.
In 1786 he
undertook an edition of Handel's works, at the request of
In 1790 the "Graduates' Meeting," a Society
of Musical Professors established in London, was founded
at Arnold's house.†
In the same year he published his
In 1793 he succeeded Dr. Cooke as
Organist of Westminster Abbey.
He died in 1802 from
injuries received through a fall from his library steps, and
was buried in Westminster Abbey, next to Purcell.
* Pasticcios were so-called dramas, consisting of a number of airs and duets,
Etc., gathered from various operas and composers, and strung together without
any other design than that of giving a mixed audience a succession of popular
The Graduates' Meeting was a Society of Musical Professors
resident in London, which was established on November 24,
1790, at Dr. Arnold's house, 480, Strand, opposite Craven Street.
An account of it exists in the British Museum, in the handwriting
of Dr. Callcott. Dupuis was the initiator, and among the members were Arnold, Burney, Dupuis, Cooke, Parsons, and
Meetings were held at intervals at the houses of the
members, and it is recorded that "Dr. Haydn," who joined the
Society in 1791, gave his dinner at Parsloe's, a Coffee House in
St. James Street, on June 20, 1792, and that Salomon was
invited to act as interpreter for Haydn.
arose, as, for instance, when a member proposed that no one
should be elected to any Cathedral appointment without a
testimonial from this Society, which met with so much disapprobation that the proposer retired from the Society; but, on
the whole, the objects of friendship and conviviality seem to
have been fairly well carried out.
The largest number reached by the members seems to have
been fourteen, that being the number of graduates in London
soon after its foundation.
The Society seems to have died a
natural death about the beginning of the present century.
--From the Musical Times, December, 1892.
Extract: A short historical account of the degrees in music at Oxford and Cambridge.
(Williams, C. F. Abdy)