Thomas Arne (1710-1778) is today remembered for little else apart from the song “Rule, Britannia!” In his day, however, Arne was a prolific composer for the London stage. He wrote operas in English (Artaxerxes being the most significant), ballad operas, masques and pantomimes, and composed music for plays, including the works of Shakespeare. “Rule, Britannia!” comes from the masque, Alfred. Arne’s career overlapped with that of his more famous contemporary and fellow Londoner, George Frideric Handel. A Catholic, Arne composed some masses, odes, cantatas, many songs and a small quantity of instrumental music including concertos and sonatas. According to the Oxford Companion to Music, Arne “appears to have been something of a scoundrel”. He sounds like a most interesting man.

© Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra