Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eastcott, Richard

EASTCOTT, RICHARD (1740?–1828), writer on music, born at Exeter about 1740, was author of ‘Sketches of the Origin, Progress, and Effects of Music, with an Account of the Ancient Bards and Minstrels,’ Bath, 1793. The book, which was received with remarkable favour, was made up from the histories of Burney and Hawkins, the influence of the former being most prominently felt. The only portion of any real value is a chapter on the state of English church music, in which the author deprecates the custom of writing fugal music for voices, on the ground that such treatment prevents the words from being properly heard. His reasons are clearly expressed, and his examples, intended to prove the defects of vocal fugues, are taken with the utmost boldness from the works of musicians of the highest order. An elaborate criticism of the book will be found in the ‘Monthly Review,’ xiii. 45–50 [see also Davy, John, 1763–1824]. At the end of his book appears an advertisement of other works by the author, viz. ‘The Harmony of the Muses,’ ‘Six Sonatas for the Pianoforte,’ and ‘Poetical Essays.’ At his death in 1828 he was chaplain of Livery Dale, Devonshire, on the presentation of Lord Rolle.

[Eastcott's Sketches; Gent. Mag. xcviii. pt. ii. p. 647; Grove's Dict. of Music, i. 479; Brown's Biog. Dict. of Musicians.]

J. A. F. M.