Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ellerton, John Lodge

ELLERTON, JOHN LODGE, formerly John Lodge (1801–1873), amateur musical composer, son of Adam Lodge of Liverpool, was born in 1801, and sent to Rugby, where his proficiency on the pianoforte became conspicuous. He proceeded to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he graduated B.A. 4 Dec. 1821, and M.A. 16 April 1828. At Oxford, before taking his M.A. degree, he published some songs and quadrilles. Their success induced Lodge to study music seriously, and he placed himself for two years under the tuition of Terriani at Rome for counterpoint, and gained practice in Italian methods by writing seven Italian operas. A tour in Germany in the company of the Earl of Scarborough was followed in August 1837 by his marriage with the sister of the eighth earl, the Lady Harriet Barbara Manners-Sutton, a widow. Frequent visits to Germany enabled Lodge to study the masters of instrumental music to the best advantage, and no fewer than fifty string quartets and similar pieces are among his published works. His Opus 100, a string quintet, was noticed in the ‘Neue Zeitschrift für Musik’ of May 1850, as being skilfully constructed, though neither original nor attractive. In the meantime his English opera, ‘Domenica,’ produced 7 June 1838 at Drury Lane, with Miss Cawse, Miss Rainforth, and Messrs. Barker, Compton, and Fraser in the principal parts, had been severely handled in the London press. The absurdities of the libretto had no doubt something to do with the failure of this work, but even the most favourable of Lodge's critics (in the ‘Morning Chronicle’ of 8 June), while giving due praise to the pure style of the music, adds that it was wanting in variety, vigour, effect, originality, and dramatic feeling. Alfred Bunn (‘The Stage both before and behind the Curtain’) wrote: ‘Mr. Lodge's opera of “Domenica” won't do; he is a good musician, but not equal to writing for the stage; perhaps he holds himself above it.’ No record appears of the publication of this or of his other English opera, ‘The Bridal of Triermain,’ or of his German opera, ‘Lucinda.’ More successful was his oratorio, ‘Paradise Lost,’ published in 1857 with pianoforte score, the selection of passages from Milton being made with discrimination. Lodge had already given proof of his literary taste in his poetical writings. He was an occasional guest of the Madrigal Society in 1840, 1841, and 1843, and wrote many glees, two of which gained prizes (1836 and 1838) at the Catch Club. Of his sixty-five songs and nineteen duets a few only became widely known.

Some of Lodge's instrumental music has been given at the summer resorts in Baden and on the Rhine. His favourite residence was at Winkel, near Rüdesheim, and he frequented Aix-la-Chapelle and other health resorts. About 1845 he assumed the name of Ellerton. It may be inferred from the records of the Musical Union, of which he was a member from 1847 to 1871, that he spent most of the years between 1851 and 1857, and again from 1860 to 1867, abroad or at Bodsilin, Carnarvonshire. John Ella [q. v.], the director of the Musical Union, testified to his culture and attainments upon announcing Ellerton's election to the committee of the season of 1851. He was a sympathetic supporter of Wagner, who wrote to Liszt from London, 10 May 1855, that he had lately found a warm friend in this Englishman. Ellerton died at Connaught Place, Hyde Park, on 3 January 1873.

The list of his published works includes five symphonies, Op. 120 being entitled ‘Wald Symphonie,’ four orchestral overtures, two masses, seven anthems, a ‘Stabat Mater,’ seventeen motetts, thirteen sonatas, eleven trios, forty-four quartets, three quintets for various instruments, &c. Also two volumes of poetry, ‘The Bridal of Salerno,’ a romance in six cantos, with other poems (1845), and ‘The Elixir of Youth,’ a legend, and other poems (1864).

[Musical World of January 1873, and other German and English papers; Grove's Dictionary, i. 486; Records of the Madrigal Society and of the Musical Union; Oxford Graduates; Briefwechsel zwischen Wagner und Liszt, i. 71; Foster's Alumni Oxon. (Lodge).]

L. M. M.