Born in Dorking in southern England, John Marsh (1752-1828) was born four years before Mozart and died a year after Beethoven. His creativity coincides most closely with the later career of Haydn, whose importance he recognized. He wrote over 350 compositions, including thirty-nine symphonies. He also wrote three books on music, all published between 1806 and 1809.
His symphonies do not sound much like the classical composers just mentioned – certainly not like Beethoven's. His music is more fluid and spritely than any of theirs, more like that of Dittersdorf, another contemporary, or that of Boyce, a fellow Englishman from an earlier generation.
I don't usually write about music of this sort, or this period, but I recently happened to hear a broadcast on Wisconsin Public Radio of his Conversation Symphony and was delighted by its fresh melody, its cheerful character and its forward momentum. It does not strive for profundity and it is more simple than complex. There is not much more I feel a need to say about it, except to commend it to listeners. Quite simply, it is very pleasurable music.
Copyright © 2014, R. James Tobin