The Great Dr. Burney, His Life, His Travels, His Works, His Family and His Friends - Vol. 1

The Great Dr. Burney, His Life, His Travels, His Works, His Family and His Friends - Vol. 1

The Great Dr. Burney, His Life, His Travels, His Works, His Family and His Friends - Vol. 1

The Great Dr. Burney, His Life, His Travels, His Works, His Family and His Friends - Vol. 1

Excerpt

This is, strangely perhaps, the very first life of Burney to appear since the three-volume 'Memoirs' of him put forth by his octogenarian daughter Fanny, over a century ago -- a work that, always spoken of as nearly unreadable, is now as nearly unprocurable. What information about Burney has latterly been at the disposition of those interested in eighteenth-and early nineteenth-century musical and social life has, then, existed only in the form of brief articles in works of reference -- and these, it may now be alleged, in a good many details inaccurate.

Having once undertaken the task of reconstructing Burney's life I have thought it my duty to set about the task in as thorough a way as I know how. I have collected what information I could by visits to the various places of Burney's residence, and have got together not only copies of all such of his publications as I could find, together with many of those of members of his family, but also, in the course of some years' search, a considerable body of correspondence and other documents in the handwriting of Burney, of members of his family, and of his friends.

Throughout the many years during which I have been engaged in my often bewilderingly complicated detective labours I have been generously helped by all the persons to whom I have found it desirable to apply. The attached list will show that such have been numerous, and I will add that the assistance they were able to give me was sometimes of high value.

The interests of Burney's long life extended far beyond those directly associated with the art he practised; very many of his friendships were found outside the circle of his own profession, and I have some hope that even 'unmusical' people may care to read of one in whose conversation the totally unmusical Johnson and a host of the outstanding personalities of social, political, literary, and artistic life took so much pleasure. To these I grant a free licence to skip all footnotes and such passages, or even whole chapters, as range outside the area of their pleasurable curiosity or of their understanding, as Johnson himself in reading one of the Tours of 'that clever dog Burney' took licence to skip the technical descriptions of the great organs of the Low Countries. They will, I think, find matter to engage their sympathies, and Burney himself would do better than merely tolerate the limitation of their interests, for did he not once write of himself, 'Though I love music very well, yet I love humaniy better'?

P. A.S.

1947 . . .

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