Today in Masonic History

Today in Masonic History Arthur Sullivan passes away in 1900.

Arthur Sullivan was a British composer, most famous for his work with W.S. Gilbert.

Sullivan was born on May 13th, 1842 in London, England. At the age of 8 he composed his first anthem. Music was a part of Sullivan’s upbringing, his father was a military bandmaster.

At the age of 14 Sullivan received the Mendelssohn Scholarship, the first of its kind given by the Royal Academy of Music. This led to Sullivan studying in Germany at the Leipzig Conservatoire. As his graduation piece, Sullivan wrote a suite of music to go along with Shakespeare’s The Tempest that he completed in 1861. When his suite was performed a year later in London it was a huge success.

During the rest of the 1860s Sullivan’s reputation continued to grow. He wrote Operas, Ballets and Orchestral pieces as well as work as a conductor. In 1866 he wrote his first enduring piece called Cox and BoxCox and Box is based on an earlier one-act play called Box and Cox a story of two men who share an apartment and do not get along, possibly a foreshadowing of what was to come with Gilbert.

Gilbert and Sullivan were polar opposites when it came to personalities. Where Gilbert had a reputation for his caustic wit and sarcasm, Sullivan was a more mild-mannered individual and was very at home interacting with England’s high society.

In 1871 Sullivan first partnered with Gilbert. Sullivan was brought in to put music to Gilbert’s operatic extravaganza Thespis or The Gods Grown Old. The two then went their separate ways. The duo reunited in 1875 by producer Richard D’Oyly Carte. Carte foresaw the success that Gilbert and Sullivan had and wanted the two writing together.

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