(bManchester, NH, 18 Feb 1819; d Elkhorn, WI, 18 Jan 1875). American composer and performer of popular music. He graduated from the Pembroke Academy, New Hampshire, in 1840, and studied music with Lowell Mason in Boston (1840–43). For a year he toured New York and New Jersey giving concerts of popular songs. In 1844 he moved to Connecticut where he managed a singing troupe, the Euphonians, and composed many of their most successful songs. His first published song was There’s a change in the things I love (Boston, 1844). In 1851 he settled in Madison, Indiana, where he was successful as a piano salesman, teacher, impresario and composer. His opposition to local slavery practices forced him to move to Chicago (1855–6), then to Racine, Wisconsin (1856–7), and Elkhorn (from 1859).
Webster published more than 400 songs, including sentimental ballads, patriotic songs and hymn tunes. His music, simple and restricted in style, is representative of mid-19th-century American popular song. The pieces are strophic. Their harmonies are mostly I–IV–V–I progressions; major keys predominate and modulations are rare. The lyrics are often effusively sentimental and morbid. Webster’s most popular works were the ballad Lorena (1857) and the hymn The sweet by and by (1868). He wrote two cantatas, The Great Rebellion (1866) and The Beatitudes (1873), and some of his songs appeared in collections entitled Patriotic Glee Book (Chicago, 1863) and Signet Ring (Chicago, 1868).
A.C.Beckwith: History of Walworth County, Wisconsin (Indianapolis, 1912), 1152–7
M.Lawson: ‘Ballad Maker: Joseph Philbrick Webster’, Wisconsin Magazine of History, xxxvii (1953–4), 103–8
E.K.Emurian: The Sweetheart of the Civil War: the True Story of the Song ‘Lorena’ (Natick, MA, 1962)
A.Appelstein: Joseph Philbrick Webster: Nineteenth-Century American Songwriter (thesis, U. of Wisconsin, 1975)
Webster, Maurice [Morris]
(b ?Kassel, c1600; d ?London, aut. 1635). English lutenist, viol player and composer. He was the son of George Webster, a lutenist in a company of English actors and musicians that toured Germany around 1600. His unusual first name might indicate that he was born in Kassel, being named after the Landgrave Moritz of Hessen-Kassel. He is first recorded at the court of Count Ernst III of Schaumburg-Lippe at Bückeburg, where Thomas Simpson was also employed; Webster contributed four pieces to Simpson’s Taffel-Consort (1621). The count died in 1622 and soon after Webster travelled to England, probably for the first time, where he was appointed as a royal lutenist by letters-patent dated 9 June 1623, backdated to Lady Day. He received allowances for buying strings for viols as well as for lutes, so he probably played bowed as well as plucked instruments. Three books of divisions, presumably for bass viol, are included among the several ‘bookes, and papers that were Mr websters’ listed in an inventory of the possessions of William Cavendish, Duke of Newcastle, who employed Webster. At court Webster was succeeded by the viol player Theodore Steffkin by letters-patent dated 7 April 1636, backdated to Michaelmas 1635, so he probably died around that time.
No lute music by Webster is known to survive, and only two sets of divisions for bass viol are extant. The pieces he contributed to Simpson’s Taffel-Consort, which include a ‘mascarada’ in the style of a Jacobean court masque dance, use the novel ‘string quartet’ scoring apparently developed at Bückeburg by Simpson and others. They are probably intended for violins and are in the Anglo-German idiom established by Brade and Simpson. The ten consort pieces attributed to Webster in English sources are in a similar style, which suggests he had a hand in introducing the idiom to composers at the English court, among them Charles Coleman and William Lawes. They include alman-like pieces entitled ‘echo’ and a galliard which is a version of a lute piece by Charles Bocquet.
see Dodd for sources
Mascarada, g, pavan and galliard, a, corant, G, a 4, bc, 162119; ed. B. Thomas (London, 1988)
Galliard a 3, B, GB-Lbl [version of a piece by C. Bocquet; ed. M. Rollin and A. Souris, Oeuvres des Bocquet (1972), no.17]
Pavan a 2, F, Lbl; pavan a 4, d, Och
3 almans a 4, F, a, D, Och, Lbl; alman a 3, d, Lbl