Arthur Sullivan

Arthur Sullivan Artistfacts

  • May 13, 1842
  • Arthur Seymour Sullivan was born in London, the son of a poor Irish musician. As a boy he was a soloist with the Chapel Royal choristers.
  • Sullivan's composing talents won him scholarships at the Royal Academy of Music in London and at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany. His suite of incidental music to Shakespeare's The Tempest won him fame before he was 20.
  • Before he met W S. Gilbert, Arthur Sullivan was Victorian England's most famous composer of popular and sacred songs and oratorios. "Onward Christian Soldiers" is his best-known hymn; "The Lost Chord" is one of his most popular songs.
  • Sullivan did not want to be remembered for his comic operas with Gilbert. "My sacred music is that on which I base my reputation as a composer," he wrote. "These works are the offspring of my liveliest fancy, the children of my greatest strength."
  • Gilbert and Sullivan first met in 1870, brought together by producer Richard D'Oyly Carte. They developed a distinctive style - elegant, tuneful and witty. Gilbert wrote the words for their operas and Sullivan composed the music. Between 1871 and 1896 they created together 14 comic operas in total.
  • Among their best known comic operas are H.M.S. Pinafore (1878), The Pirates of Penzance (1879) and The Mikado (1885).
  • Gilbert and Sullivan's operettas made them rich, each of them earning over £10,000 a year, twice as much as the then UK Prime Minister.
  • Sullivan had suffered from long-standing recurrent kidney disease that made it necessary, from the 1880s, for him to conduct sitting down. He died of heart failure, following an attack of bronchitis, at his flat in London on November 22, 1900 aged only 58. (Source of above The Encyclopedia of Trivia.)

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