Mr. William Jackson [article]

1866 The Musical Times and Singing Class Circular  
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The life of William Jackson e is interwoven with our means of elevation and enjoyment, inase mtlch as, not only by his own direct efforts, but bv the influence of his example, and by the prestige of his name he has done much to e build up that musical interest in the town which is a marked feature s of Bradford society, and a source of culture and refinemellt to all e classes. S Mr. Jackson's life was full of incident. He was born on the 9th ) of January, 1816, at Mashamt and he always cherished a warm affection for the place of his birth, and the neighbourhood in which e hi9 early years were spent. He was the son of a miller, and was l himself as a lad, a hard wolker in the corn mill. He was not many r years oid when his passion for music-the ruling passion of his whole lifbegan to reveal itself. As early as eight years old we are told of the rapture he enjoyed in being present at a great bellringing match at Masham. In a notice of his early career, which appeared in Elzza Cook's Journal many years ago, are some interesting particulars of his younger days, 30me of which we may transfer 3 to this memoir. In the old parish church, at Masham, was a barrel-> organ, which was at once a great mystery and delight to the boy r then not eight years old. To admit the sound well into the church l the doors were thrown open behind, and from the gallery he used to -delight to wvatch the stops, pipes, barrels, staples, keyboard, jacks t and all the machinery whieh was nakedly exposed to view. About 3 this time he went to iive with his grandmother at Tanfield Mill, a -few miles off, and here he commenced his musical career by learnr ing to play an old fife, which had belonged to his father, formerly I a fifer in the Masham Volunteers. This fife, however, would not L sound D, which was a great trouble to the ladt but hi# mother . removed the difficulty by providing him with a one-keyed flute, and z shortly after a gentleman in the neighbourhood gave hitn a fl^ute with four silver keys, which was a great stroke of good luck, and * he blew away jogully. But he was meallwhile making no way in , '; book-learning," as his friends thoughtt and so he was sent off to a M school at Pateley Bridge. There he sought out his most congenial U society, and found it in a club of village singerst at Brigham Gate. They put }nto his hands the old sol-faing gamut, and drilled him into the reading of music, in which he soon became a greater proficient than in the reading of books. His progress astonished them all-and he returned from school full of musical notions. He contrived to get the use of an old jingling spinet, and learned to play upon it, althongh the melody was very unsatisfaetory. He became ambitious of possessing a finger-organt but wallted the means to procure it. However, about this time, a neighbouring parish clerk had purchased, for an insignificant sum a small disabled barrel-organ ; that had travelled the northern counties with a show. The clerk, relying on his mechanical and musical skill, felt confident that he could , revive its tones * but in spite of all his effortst he could only get from it a sound that was neither scream, grunt, nor groan, but a combination of all three. At last, in despair, he placed it in a donkey cart and brought it to the house in which our young musician lived, who, though yet a mere boy, had gained some little celebrity by his alterations and improvements in the hand organ of the parish church of Masham. He at once set to work upon it, and found that its chief disease was "an affection of the willdpipe.'t He promised, however, to have it ready for use in a week, and sure enough, when t.he old clerk called at the end of that time, he was astonished at the completeness of the cure, and was moved, even to tears, by the old airs which it played. The clerk joyfully gave the lad a sovereign, the first golden fruits of his musical and mechanical skill. And now the thought hannted him strangely that he could make an organ t His father and he set to work to construct a balrelorgan; but though both of them could chop sticks well enough, neither of tiem could use a jack-plane so as to plane #traie,ht and square. By dint, however, of hard labour and through many failures, they at last succeeded;-first making the bellows, then the pipes (a still more difficult work), then the diapasons, then the wind-chest, and next of all the minor mechanical mysteries, and the issue was, that in the course of three or four months, they had constructed a halld-organ that played ten tunes very decently. The organ was the wonder of the neighbourhood, and many country visitors called to see it and hear it play. Other organs were sent in to repair, and an old gentleman at Pateley Bridge gave the mechanics an order to put him a lot of sacred music on a barrel he had got made, which was accomplished very much to his satisfaction. IIisnextambition was a five-stop finger-organ; he set to work on its construction, and made it-his brother purchasing for him the keys of an old harpsichord. At the same time he begged some old-fashioned music in loose sheets, which proved to be ';Boyce's Cathedral Music," and was of gleat ultimate service to him. He learned to play it, and also possessed himseld of a copy of "Callcott's Grammar of Thorough Bas6," which he studied and mastered. During all this time, the boy was engaged in daily hard work as a miller, and during summer worked in the field3. The only time he had for practisillg music was during the noon hour and in the evening, about half an hour at dinner, and an hour or two at night. He nest tried hls hand at composing, and a dozen little anthems, which the lad composed, were carried by a friend who took an interest in him, to the late Mr. Camidge, the organist at York Minster, and shown to him as the production of a "miller's lad of fourteen." Mr. Camidge marked the objectionable passages such as contained consecutive fifths, eighths, hn's Overture to Athalte by the orchestra atld twenty harps. The princip.ll vocalists. besi(les those en(taged in the Cantataq were Mr. Santlezr, Madame Weiss, Miss Ro3e Helsee. and Mr. Arthur Matthison. The Concert was in evel-y respect highly successIul. ON Tuesday evening, in Passionweek, a sacred Concertwas tivenbythe Kentish T*twn Church Choral Soeiety. underthe diaection of Mr. Alfred Gilbert Organist of St. Johll's Church. The first part of the Concert colnprised a selection of 80108 And choruses from the Messiah," and the second part consisted of the Stabat Mater, Rossini; the principal parts being taken by Madame Gilbert, Madame Andrea, Mr. Whiffill, Mr. J. We]ch, and Mr. F. F.