Hollis Thoms: Composer, Collector, Researcher, Advocate
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Research at the Folger Shakespeare Library

John Liptrot Hatton (1809-1886) was music director for the theatrical productions of two of the most famous Shakespearean actors/producers of the 19th-century: William Charles Macready (1793-1873) and Charles John Kean (1811-1868). A number of his musical manuscripts for incidental music that he wrote for Shakespearean productions are in the Folger Shakespeare Library. I have been looking at these very interesting works, that are quite expansive and imaginative. For each of the plays he wrote an overture, music to begin each act, and music within each act that included fanfares, dances, and songs. I have transcribed, using the FINALE music program, the four pieces he wrote for the November 1, 1858 Macbeth production and the June 12, 1858 Merchant of Venice production. 

The overture for Macbeth is 481 measures and is in a sonata-allegro form.
Hatton was a great lover of Mendelssohn's music and his music is influenced
by Mendelssohn. His Macbeth Overture is similar in sound to Mendelssohn's
Scottish Symphony, movements 3 and 4. Hatton use the Scottish strathspey
rhythm and sounds that suggests bagpipes and Scottish fiddle music. 






The overture for Merchant of Venice is 343 measures and is in an Italian
operatic four-part form. His music suggests Venice: parades, marches,
songs, gondolas, and community celebrations. He paints a vivid sound
picture of the city. 






These musical scores have not been heard since 1858 for the Kean productions
and Henry Clay Folger bought these scores in the early 1920s and as far as
I know there has never been an article written about or a concert given of these works because these musical manuscripts have been lying dormant in the Folger Shakespeare Library for 90 years.

Hatton was an extraordinarily gifted musician, pianist, conductor and composer. He was also the life of the party, with an irrepressible sense of humor. He has written 150 songs, the most famous being "Goodbye, Sweetheart, Goodbye" which is cited in James Joyce's Ulysses, Chapter 11, "Sirens". Have fun listening. 

If after listening to these two works you have any comments about them, please email me at hjthoms@aol.com.