Department of Music

The Life and Music of Samuel and Samuel Sebastian Wesley
Nottingham, December 2003






Members of two generations of the Wesley family were prominent in England's music
life for over 100 years, from the early 1770s to the 1870s.  The brothers Charles
(1757-1834) and Samuel (1766-1837) were sons of the Methodist hymn-writer Charles
Wesley (1707-88) and nephews of the preacher John Wesley (1703-91). They were child
prodigies, heard and admired by Boyce, Burney, and other musicians of the immediately
post-Handel generation; later, in the early 1780s, they played at and composed for a
celebrated series of private subscription concerts that ran for nine seasons at the
family home in London. Charles failed to fulfil his youthful promise either as a
composer or performer, but his younger brother Samuel became the most original
composer and the most celebrated organist of his age, a champion of the music of J.
S. Bach, and a wonderfully caustic observer of the London musical scene. His son
Samuel Sebastian (1810-76) was the equal of his father as an organist and composer of
church and organ music, and was the most prominent composer of his generation in
these areas. He was also a passionate advocate for the reform of English cathedral

This one-day conference, organised by Peter Horton of the Royal College of Music and
Philip Olleson of the University of Nottingham, will be devoted to the life and music
of Samuel and Sebastian Wesley. It is linked to the publication this autumn of major
studies of both men: Samuel Wesley: The Man and his Music by Philip Olleson
(Boydell and Brewer) and Samuel Sebastian Wesley by Peter Horton (Oxford
University Press). Copies of both books will be available at the conference for
purchase at special rates.

The conference will begin with registration and coffee at 10.30 a.m.  The provisional
programme thereafter is for two sessions of papers (11.00 - 12.30 and 1.30 - 3.00), a
round table session or similar event (3.30 - 5.00), and a concert of music by Samuel
and Samuel Sebastian, performed by students from the Royal College of Music and the
University of Nottingham (5.30 - 6.30).

Travel to Nottingham is easy, with hourly fast trains from London taking around 100
minutes, and good rail services from elsewhere. Access by road is equally
straightforward: Nottingham is 15 minutes from the M1, and 45 minutes from the A1.


10.30am		Registration, Coffee and Welcome 

11.00-12.30 	Session One: Samuel Wesley 
Philip Olleson, (University of Nottingham): Samuel Wesley in Context 
David Rowland (Open University): Samuel Wesley and the Piano 
Yo Tomita (Queen's University, Belfast): Samuel Wesley as editor of JS Bach 
12.30-1.30pm	Lunch 

1.30-3.30pm	Session Two: Samuel Sebastian Wesley 
Peter Horton (Royal College of Music): Samuel Sebastian Wesley in Context 
Robert Pascall (University of Wales Bangor): Samuel Sebastian Wesley's Service in E 
Jeremy Dibble (University of Durham): Samuel Sebastian Wesley: English Catalyst and
3.30pm		Tea 

4.00pm		Round Table: Performing the Music of the Wesleys 
Participants to include Peter Horton, David Rowland, Margaret Phillips (Royal College
of Music) and Geoffrey Webber (Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge)

5.30-6.30pm	Concert of piano and vocal music by Samuel and Samuel Sebastian
Wesley, performed by students from the Royal College of Music and the Department of
Music of the University of Nottingham 

For further details, contact:

Dr Philip Olleson, School of Continuing Education, Jubilee Campus,
University of Nottingham, Wollaton Road, Nottingham NG8 1BB, UK (tel:
+44-(0)115 951 3715; email

Conference web page, including registration form: