The most prolific composer of the London stage of the late-eighteenth century, Samuel Arnold was also a popular composer for London's pleasure gardens.
He wrote songs ('gratis') for Vauxhall during the 1760s when he was establishing his reputation and all-sung burlettas for Marylebone during the time he was owner-proprieter (1769-1774).
As composer and music director of the Little Theatre in the Haymarket Arnold composed over 60 stage works over a twenty-year period as well as incidental music, overtures and and insertion arias for other composer’s works.
From the mid 1780s Arnold combined his summer directorship of the Little Theatre with several other posts in London, including those of organist and composer to the Chapel Royal (from 1783) and organist to Westminster Abbey (from 1793).
In 1789 he became conductor of the Academy of Ancient Music and in 1790 founded the Graduates Meeting, a society of academic musicians which included Haydn among its associates.
From 1786 Arnold was dedicated to editing a complete Handel edition, 180 parts of which were completed at the time of his death
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