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Gillespie, Joseph Norman

The Life and Work of Henry Carey (1687-1743)

Ph.D. Royal Holloway College, University of London, 1982

This thesis approaches Carey's life and work through his career as a musician, and examines the influence of music on all that he achieved; manifest in his various roles as composer, dramatist, opera librettist, performer, poet, satirist and translator.

An introductory bibliographical review of all secondary literature concerning Carey 1741-1981, separates fact from fiction. Chapter 1 presents a complete biography based on extensive documentary material gleaned from contemporary newspapers and other records. This includes references to Carey as parish clerk at Lincoln's Inn 1714-1717, and the "Earl of Oxford Affair" which marked a watershed in Carey's career as a 'Grub-Street' musician and writer.

Chapter 2 assesses Carey's achievements both as a lyric poet, and as a satirist of the London musical scene in the early eighteenth century. A flair for parody is traced back to his prose writings in The Records of Love (1710), and the origins and early history of "Sally in our Alley" are for the first time fully documented.

Carey's importance in the development of English solo song is emphasised in chapter 3. As a champion of the native tradition during a period of Italian domination, he forms a 1ink between the vocal styles of Purcell and Eccles at the end of the seventeenth century, and Arne and Stanley in the eighteenth. By fusing the popular ballad with the sophistication of the modern Italian style, Carey established the characteristics of that mid-century "English style" identified principally with Thomas Arne. He emerges as a talented composer with a remarkable gift for melody, encompassing a wide range of styles.

Carey produced a variety of successful stage works that contain original and often quite sophisticated music, ranging from ballad opera to masque, and burlesque to pantomime. Chapter 4 deals with each work individually and Carey's innovatory role is emphasised. The masque Britannia (1754) is reconstructed, and the "missing" music to Hamlet (1756) restored. The Dragon of Wantley is shown to have been inspired by Handel's oratorios.

Carey's role in the "English Opera Company" of 1752-55 is assessed, and a detailed comparison made between the different versions of his librettos Amelia and Teraminta in chapter 5. A further comparison with Stanley's Teraminta (Royal College of Music, MS 1O2O) reveals that its text is derived exclusively from the two earlier versions by Carey.

Volume 2 consists of a complete catalogue of Carey's songs and poems, amounting to over five hundred items, with title and first line indexes and sources up to 1800. An anthology of Carey's best work is appended.