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Ebenezer Prout

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Piano Quartet No.2, Op.18Piano Quartet, Op.2Piano Quintet, Op.3String Quartet No.1, Op.1String Quartet No.2, Op.15
Ebenezer Prout (1 March 1835 - 5 December 1909) was an English musical theorist, writer, music teacher and composer, whose instruction, afterwards embodied in a series of standard works still used today, underpinned the work of many British classical musicians of succeeding generations.
Prout was born in Oundle on 1st March 1835. He studied piano under Charles Salaman, but was otherwise self-taught. He attended the University of London intended for a career as a scholar, but chose to follow one in music through his love of it. From 1861 to 1873 he was Organist of the Union Chapel, Islington. From 1861 to 1885 he was Professor of the Piano at the Crystal Palace School of Art. He was awarded first prizes for a string quartet (1862) and a pianoforte quartet (1865) by the Society of British Musicians. Between 1871 and 1874 he was Editor of the Monthly Musical Record, and between 1874 and 1879 music critic for the Academy. In 1863 he was one of the first twenty-one members of the Royal College of Organists. In 1879 he was appointed Professor of Harmony and Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, and became music critic of the Athenaeum. In 1884 he became a Professor at the Guildhall School of Music, London. In 1894 he was appointed Professor of Music at the University of Dublin, being awarded an Honorary Mus.Doc. in the following year. During this period he not only trained his students but delivered memorable public lecture series, notably one on the Bach cantatas illustrated by singers whom he had trained.
Also to this period belong his principal theoretical works, which became classics and were translated into many languages. Prout produced editions of many of the classics, not least the Handel oratorios. He was directly connected with the rediscovery of the original wind parts for Messiah, from which new full and vocal scores were introduced by him to the Royal Society of Musicians in 1902. He was furthermore a composer of concert, church and chamber music. As an editor, Prout reflected the practices of his own time in that he felt justified in replacing Handel's phrasing and expression marks with his own preferences. In this respect Prout differed from his contemporary Friedrich Chrysander, who was the first to produce an edition attempting to convey the composer's own intentions.
For a period, Prout was regarded as one of the most promising English composers: he obtained several performances at the Crystal Palace, London, and commissions from the Birmingham, Norwich and Bristol Festivals. Several of his choral works were written for the Hackney Choral Association and given under the composer's direction at prominent venues in London. His music secured good reviews:
By 1891, Prout's musical style had come to be regarded as outmoded: following the first performance of his Suite de Ballet the Musical Times thought that
In a modern survey of Prout's symphonic works, Jürgen Schaarwächter judged that
Although performances of his works greatly diminished towards the close of the nineteenth century, the occasional concert included his music: on 30th December 1897, at Bournemouth, Dan Godfrey played the Symphony No.3. Among Prout's many students were Arthur Goring Thomas, Eugen d'Albert, John Waterhouse, Henry Wood and Edward German. He died at Hackney, London, on 5th December 1909, his obituary in The Musical Times noting that
Prout married Julia West in 1861, and they had five children, Florence (1862–1921), Louis Beethoven (1864–1944), Edith Julia (1867–1913), Alice (1869–1870) and Alice Ellen (1871–1957). Louis Beethoven was a writer on musical theory, having trained under his father at the Royal Academy, and becoming professor at the Guildhall School. Louis Beethoven Prout's principal works are an Analysis of Bach's 48 Fugues (Weekes); Harmonic Analysis (Augener); Sidelights on Harmony (Augener); and Time, Rhythm and Expression (Augener). Like his sister Alice Ellen, he was also an entomologist, being a foremost authority on the Geometridae, or geometer moths.
Many works by Prout were published although several autograph scores are missing.
Novello, Ewer & Co., London, published the full orchestral score and a piano duet arrangement of Symphony No.3, together with vocal scores of Hereward, Freedom, Queen Aimée, O be joyful in the Lord (Psalm 100), The Red Cross Knight and Damon and Phintias. Vincent Music Co., London, published the full score of Organ Concerto No.2 together with a piano score of the Suite for small orchestra and vocal scores of Salve Regina and Jesu dulcis memoria. Addison, Hollier & Lucas, London, published a set of parts for String Quartet No.1. Augener & Co., London, published the full score and a piano duet arrangement of the Minuet and Trio, the full score of Organ Concerto No.1, the full score of the Suite de Ballet, the full score and a piano score of the Triumphal March from Alfred, the vocal score of Alfred and We give Thee Thanks, O Lord God Almighty, together with scores and sets of parts for String Quartet No.2, the Piano Quintet, Piano Quartet No.1 and Piano Quartet No.2, the Organ Sonata, the Duo Concertante and the Clarinet Sonata. A publisher unspecified by the British Library, London, issued the full score of the Magnificat, Op.7.
The autograph full scores of both versions of Symphony No.1 are held by the Library of Trinity College, Dublin (Prout G.147/ Prout G.148) together with autograph scores of Organ Concerto No.1 (Prout G.139), String Quartet No.1 (Prout G.145 no.1), Piano Quartet No.1 (Prout G.145 no.2), The Doom of Devergoil (Prout G.145 no.3) and the Salve Regina (Prout H.199 no.2). The autograph full score of Symphony No.2 in at Cambridge University Library (MS Add. 9151) together with String Quartet No.1 (MS.Add.9066(1)) and String Quartet No.2 (MS.Add.9066(2)). The autograph full score of Symphony No.3 is at the Bodleian Library, Oxford (MS. Tenbury 325). The autograph full score of Symphony No.4 is held by Queen's College, Oxford. The autograph full score of the Minuet and Trio is held by the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge (MU.MS.788). Autograph full orchestral scores of Hail to the Chief, Freedom, O be joyful in the Lord (Psalm 100) and The Red Cross Knight are held by the Library of the Royal College of Music, London (Add.Mss 5158a-e). The autograph full score of Damon and Phintias is at the British Library, London (Add.Ms. 50779). The autograph full score of the Clarinet Concerto is held by the Library of the Royal Academy of Music, London (MS 1155).
Prout is also remembered for fitting whimsical words to the main subjects of J. S. Bach's fugues, and in particular all of the fugues from Bach's 48 Preludes and Fugues.