John Marsh: Five Symphonies

Rare English symphonies that straddle the baroque and classical styles

English composer John Marsh was in fact an amateur — albeit a greatly gifted amateur. His father, a captain in the Royal Navy, wanted his son to follow in his footsteps. But Marsh, more interested in music, persuaded his father to allow him to undertake legal training. He became an apprentice of a solicitor in Romsey — as he learned to play the violin and several other instruments. When Marsh set up practice in Romsey for himself, he also founded a series of subscription concerts for which he himself wrote some compositions. His 1776 move to Salisbury to enter a legal partnership also opened an opportunity to play violin in subscription concert series of which he became leader in 1780 and write symphonies which were performed during the subscription concerts as well as during the Salisbury Festival. Subsequent moves to Kent and Chichester followed the same pattern, and his skill as a musician, impressario, and musical leader had an enormous impact on the evolution of concert presentation in late 18th century England.

Sadly, few of his compositions have survived; those that do reveal his impressive skills as a composer, as Ian Graham-Jones and his players demonstrate in this program of symphonies by Marsh.