A Dictionary of Music and Musicians/Wade, Joseph


WADE, Joseph Augustine, born in Dublin at the close of the last or beginning of the present century. Not only is the date of Wade's birth doubtful, but his parentage also. According to surviving members of his own family, he was of gentle blood, but Dr. Richard R. Madden (his schoolfellow), the generally trustworthy biographer of the 'United Irishmen,' tells us that his origin was humble, his father being a dairyman near Thomas Street, Dublin. A similar uncertainty surrounds the place of his maturer education. The tales of his presenting himself at the gate of the University of Dublin, and addressing the porter in Latin are wild fictions, for the books of the University (called Trinity College, Dublin) reveal the fact that Wade was never a member of the place. He is said to have entered the 'Irish Record Office' as a junior clerk, when little more than 16, but no record remains of the fact in the books of the office. Wade soon quitted Dublin, and married a lady of fortune, Miss Kelly of Garnavilla, near Athlone. The first recorded essay of his muse is the words and music of a song, 'Lovely Kate of Garnavilla.' His bliss was however but short-lived, for he grew weary of the young lady, returned to the Irish metropolis, and is said to have acquired considerable skill as an anatomist and surgeon, but the books of the Irish College of Surgeons contain no mention of his name. About this time he published, through Thomas Cooke & Co. in Dublin, a ballad, of which both words and music were his own, 'I have culled ev'ry flowret that blows'; and made the acquaintance of Sir J. Stevenson, who finding in him literary and melodial gifts, and—what was then extremely rare amongst amateurs an extended knowledge of harmony and the theory of music, strongly advised Wade to apply for the University chair of music, dormant since 1774, when the Earl of Mornington, appointed in 1764, had resigned the office. It was necessary however to matriculate and become a member of the University, and the matter fell to the ground. After this, surgery was abandoned, and Wade became a poet-musician. At this time he was of mild and gentlemanlike manners, and appeared about 25 years of age: it is possible that it was now, and not during his boyhood, that he and William Rooke found employment in the Record Office in Dublin. However, his restless disposition induced him to migrate to London, where his talents soon brought him into notice. From intercourse with orchestral performers, he acquired sufficient confidence to undertake to conduct the Opera during Mr. Monck Mason's regime, a position he did not long retain. In fact, he made but a poor professor, the poverty of his orchestration being not more remarkable than the antiquated style of his melody. He had been engaged by the firm of Chappell to make himself generally useful; but he made no use of his gifts as poet, musician, and scholar, and the house reaped little advantage from him. He frequented taverns, drank to excess, and has been known to drink all his companions under the table and finish the night with the landlord. His Irish wife having died childless, he seems to have formed some fresh matrimonial connexion, judging by an appeal made after his death for aid to his wife and destitute children. His downward progress was rapid, and for the last few years of his life he was unknown. He only once returned to his native city—in Dec. 1840, travelling with Lavenu's touring party. It included Liszt, Richardson the flautist, the Misses Steele and Bassano, John Parry, and J. P. Knight; two or three of Wade's concerted pieces were included in the concerts, at which however he did not appear, even as accompanyist. He wandered about for some weeks, visited one or two relatives, and returned to London, where he died, July 15, 1845, at his lodgings in the Strand.

There is little doubt that Wade was a man of remarkable gifts and acquirements. His personal appearance was much in his favour; he was witty and quick in perception, and had acquired some knowledge of the Latin classics, as well as of one or two modern languages, and also had a smattering of anatomy. His memory was retentive in the extreme. Above all, he possessed a gift for creating melody: add to this fair skill as a violinist, and a trifle of orchestral knowledge, and what might not Wade have accomplished but for incredible indolence and folly? It remains but to add a list of his works, with their approximate dates:—'The Prophecy,' an oratorio (Drury Lane 1824);' 'The two Houses of Granada' (ib. 1826); 'The pupil of Da Vinci' (operetta by Mark Lemon); 'Polish Melodies' (words and music) 1831; 'Convent Belles' (with Hawes) 1833; 'A woodland life' (polacca interpolated in 'Der Freischütz' and sung by Braham); 'Meet me by moonlight alone' (sung by Vestris); the duet 'I've wandered in dreams,' and other vocal pieces. This last obtained a popularity equalling the preceding ballad, which had the good fortune to be further immortalised in the pages of Frazer's Magazine for October 1834, by the witty Father Prout, in French attire.

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\addlyrics { Viens au bos -- quet, ce soir sans te -- moin Dans le
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It should be said that Wade was associated with Mr. G. A. Macfarren as pianoforte arranger of the earlier issues of Mr. Wm. Chappell's National English Airs.

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