(bap. Winchester, 11 April 1606; bur. Salisbury, 3 March 1638). English organist, singer and composer, son of John Holmes. The eldest of seven children, he was possibly a choirboy at Salisbury Cathedral in 1621, under his father, the organist. After his father's death in January 1629 Holmes was proposed as his successor by Dr Barnston, custos of the choristers; however, the dean, Dr Bowle, nominated Giles Tomkins, who eventually took the post after a long dispute in which the king himself became involved. Holmes was appointed organist at Winchester Cathedral in April 1631 and four years later was described by Lieutenant Hammond as ‘one of the rarest organists of his days’. On 17 September 1633 he was sworn a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and as a skilful bass singer he took part in James Shirley's masque The Triumph of Peace, first performed on 3 February 1634. At about this time he apparently performed the air Oberon, or The Madman's Song before the king and queen in Cambridge. His death is given variously as 24 or 25 March 1638, but an entry in the Salisbury Cathedral burial register states that he was buried on 3 March 1638. He was succeeded at Winchester by Christopher Gibbons.
Holmes was known to Anthony Wood for his three-part catches and canons, the best known of which is A boat, a boat, haste to the ferry, sometimes attributed to John Jenkins. In his almaine for keyboard each reprise is fully written out.
5 verse anthems: I will magnify thee, GB-Lbl, Ob, Och; O Lord, I bow the knees, Ob; O that my head, Ob; Save me O God, Ob; The Lord hear thee, Lbl, Och
2 anthems, music lost, text Lbl Harl. 6346
12 catches, 3 canons, 3vv, 16516, 165210, 16585, 16636 16676, 16725, 16734, 16805
Oberon, or The Madman's Song, B, bc, Lbl
3 ayres, 1 pavan, 1 almaine, 3 viols, Lbl
1 almaine, 1 sarabande, 1 toy, kbd, US-NYp, ed. in CEKM, xliv (1977)
M. Lefkowitz: ‘The Longleat Papers of Bulstrode Whitelocke: New Light on Shirley's Triumph of Peace’, JAMS, xviii (1965), 42–60
B. Matthews: The Organs and Organists of Winchester Cathedral (Winchester, 1966)
E.F. Rimbault: An Old Cheque Book of the Chapel Royal (London, 1872); repr. with introduction by E.A. Wienandt (New York, 1966)
H.F. Gervers: ‘A Manuscript of Dance Music from Seventeenth-Century England: Drexel Collection MS 5612’, Bulletin of the New York Public Library, lxxx (1976–7), 503–52
J.A. Irving: ‘William Byrd and the Three-Part Ayres of Thomas Holmes’, Brio, xxix/2 (1992), 71–7
NORMAN JOSEPHS/HILDA GERVERS
Holmes, William Henry
(b Sudbury, Derbys., 8 Jan 1812; d London, 23 April 1885). English pianist, composer and teacher. Taught by his father, as a boy performer he came to the attention of Charles Knyvett and, eventually, George IV, on whose recommendation he became a student at the RAM in 1823. There he studied with Cipriani Potter and won prizes for composition and performance; in 1826 he was appointed sub-professor of the piano, later becoming a full professor (after 1830) and an associate honorary member of the RAM (by 1838).
Throughout his career Holmes was an active performer: he held chamber music concerts in the 1840s, played at the Philharmonic Society in 1851, and gave his own piano concerto in A major (‘The Jubilee’; written for the anniversary of the RAM) at Alexandra Palace in 1876. He was a founder member of the Bach Society (1849), and was also receptive to contemporary music; according to George Grove, Holmes helped to secure the first British performance of Brahms's Piano Concerto no.1 at the Crystal Palace concerts in 1872. By the end of his life Holmes was affectionately known as the ‘father of the Academy’ (he was made a full honorary member of the RAM in 1871); his pupils included W.S. Bennett, J.W. Davison and the Macfarren brothers. In the early 1880s he was a professor at the newly founded Guildhall School of Music.
Most of Holmes's extant compositions are songs and single-movement piano pieces such as fantasias, potpourris and sketches. With the exception of an opera (The Elfin of the Lake; vocal score, London, c1850), his essays in larger genres (e.g. symphonies, a violin sonata and a piano quartet) are unpublished.
Grove1 (G. Grove)
W.W. Cazalet: The History of the Royal Academy of Music, Compiled from Authentic Sources (London, 1854)
Holocaust, music of the.
See Jewish music, §V, 2(iv).
A document written in the hand of the author or composer. This distinguishes it from the more commonly used word, Autograph, for the latter, strictly, means merely that the document is written by someone who can be named. Thus, an accounting of the manuscripts written by C.P.E. Bach would include not only his holographs, copies of his own compositions, but also his autograph copies of the works of his father, J.S. Bach. Similarly, the father's holographs of his own works need to be distinguished from his autograph copies of music by such composers as Caldara or Lotti, or Grigny.
Even though the accurate detection of a composer's handwriting can often add greatly to the value of a manuscript, the distinction between autograph and holograph is not much observed by antiquarian dealers or auctioneers (who tend to use the more general word in all situations). However, it is useful for scholars, for whom the identity of a scribe or copyist is often of prime importance. The circle of scribes who worked for major 19th-century composers frequently included other, younger composers, earning their living while learning their craft. The musical style of the younger man often shows traces of what he learnt while working as a copyist. Similarly, discovering the identity or working milieu of a Baroque composer-scribe immediately affects our understanding of the value of the music he or she wrote, and recent studies of compositional sketches and drafts by Renaissance and 20th-century composers have radically enhanced our view of their musical priorities.
See also Sources, MS, §I.