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SANDERSON, JAMES (1769?–1841?), musician, was born at Workington, Durham, about 1769. From earliest childhood he showed musical gifts, and at the age of fourteen, although he had received no tuition, was engaged as violinist at the Sunderland Theatre. In 1784 he established himself at Shields as a teacher, and in 1787 became leader at the Newcastle Theatre. He went to London in 1788, and led the orchestra at Astley's Theatre. His first essay in dramatic composition was an illustrative instrumental accompaniment to Collins's ‘Ode on the Passions,’ which G. F. Cooke was to recite during his benefit at Chester. In 1793 Sanderson was engaged at the Royal Circus (now the Surrey Theatre) as composer and musical director; in this post he remained many years, producing the incidental music for many dramas and isolated vocal and instrumental pieces. The accepted tune of ‘Comin' thro' the rye’ was composed by Sanderson. The most successful of his acknowledged compositions was a ballad, ‘Bound 'Prentice to a Waterman,’ sung in the drama ‘Sir Francis Drake’ (1800); it was regularly introduced into nautical plays for fully half a century. Two of Sanderson's ballads were reprinted in the ‘Musical Bouquet’ as late as 1874. The titles of his works fill twenty-nine pages of the British Museum catalogue. He is said to have died about 1841 (cf. Fétis).

[Fétis's Biographie Universelle des Musiciens, 1844; Grove's Dict. of Music and Musicians, iii. 224; Chappell's Popular Music of the Olden Time, p. 795 n.; Sanderson's compositions.]

H. D.