Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Keeble, John

937111Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 30 — Keeble, John1892Louisa M. Middleton

KEEBLE, JOHN (1711–1786), organist, musical composer, and writer, was born in 1711 at Chichester, and was chorister of the cathedral under Thomas Kelway [q. v.] In 1734–5 Keeble, with Boyce, Travers, and others, frequented Dr. Pepusch's lectures, and fell under the spell of his admiration for the music of the Greeks. On the retirement of Rosingrave, 1737, Keeble became organist of St. George's, Hanover Square. It has been said that Handel recommended him for this post in preference to Matthison (A. B. C. Dario, Musicians, p. 31). Keeble was also organist at Ranelagh Gardens from the opening in 1742. As a teacher of the harpsichord he had many pupils. He died on 24 Dec. 1786 at his house in Conduit Street, but was buried, according to his wish, at Ramsholt in Suffolk, by the side of his wife. His daughter Sally married Captain Thomas Hamilton.

Keeble published:

  1. Select pieces for the organ or harpsichord; four sets of six pieces were collected in a volume about 1780.
  2. ‘The Theory of Harmonics, or an Illustration of the Grecian Harmonica,’ London, 1784. Part i. dealt with the systems of Euclid, Aristoxenus, and Bacchius; part ii. with the doctrine of the Ratio, and the explanation of the two diagrams of the Gaudentius and the Pythagorean numbers in Nicomachus. This work was full of ingenious ideas, and the diagrams of strings and ratios proved of some interest (see severely critical articles in the Monthly Review, November 1785, pp. 343, 441; and a more favourable notice in the European Magazine, 1785, pp. 186, 355, 431).
  3. In conjunction with Jacob Kirkman [q. v.], ‘Forty Interludes to be played between the verses of the Psalms,’ London, 1795.

[Burney's Hist. of Music, iv. 265; Boyce's Cathedral Music, i. 2; Grove's Dictionary, ii. 48; Gent. Mag. lxxviii. 581; Registers of Wills, P. C. C., Book Major, f. 29; Registers of the parish of Ramsholt, by the courtesy of the Rev. A. Tighe-Gregory.]

L. M. M.