Matthew Camidge

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Born: May 25, 1764 Died: October 23, 1844
Matthew Camidge was a well-known local musician in Northern England, famous for his organ playing and conducting oratorios. His compositions are solid in craftsmanship though quite conservative.

His parents were John and Elizabeth Camidge. John had been organist at York Minster since 1756, and gave Matthew, the sixth son, his early musical training. His father then sent him to London to be a chorister in the Chapel Royal, whose music master, Nares, had been his own teacher.

Matthew returned to York and served as his father's assistant. When his father retired in 1799, Matthew took over his position at York Minster. Matthew married Mary Shaw of York in 1789. They had three sons. One, John, succeeded Matthew on his own retirement, and then passed on the post to his own son. Matthew's other sons took orders, and one of them became canon of York Minster.

Matthew Camidge was a musical leader in the region. He was known for his brilliant organ improvisations. He organized huge music festivals given at York in 1823, 1825, and later. As a violinist, he led the orchestra of the York Musical Society. He contributed 30 excellent hymn tunes for William Richardson's Collection of Psalms, which in later editions became widely known as The York Psalm and Hymn Book. It is likely that Camidge introduced the practice of psalm chanting to St. Michael-le-Belfrey, his other church job, which he obtained in 1801.

His sonatas, for piano with accompanying violin and cello, are very pleasant works, and representative of the better English music of the time, though not original. He frankly acknowledged, in the preface to his set of organ concertos published in 1817, that he was writing them in the "so long admired" style of Handel and Corelli.

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