Charles Burney, an English organist, composer, and historian of music, born at Shrewsbury, April 7, 1726, died at Chelsea, April 15, 1814. At the age of 18 he came under the tuition of Dr. Arne, with whom he studied for three years in London. In 1749 he was appointed organist of a church in the city, and in the same year produced at Drury Lane three musical dramas, "Robin Hood," "Alfred," and " Queen Mab." For the next nine years he lived at Lynn Regis, in Norfolk, as organist, and compiled materials for his " History of Music." In 1760 he returned to London, where he brought out a number of instrumental compositions, and an adaptation of J. J. Rousseau's operetta, Le devin du village, under the title of " The Cunning Man." One of his most admired works was an anthem performed on the occasion of receiving his degree of doctor of music at Oxford in 1769. In the following year, with a view of obtaining further materials for his " History of Music," he visited the principal cities of France and Italy, and in 1771 published the result of his observations in a volume entitled " The Present State of Music in France and Italy." In the succeeding year he made a similar tour through Germany and the Netherlands, and published the result in two volumes.
The four volumes of his " History of Music " appeared respectively in 1776, 1782, and two in 1789. His remaining works are: " An Account of Little Crotch, the Infant Musician," "An Account of the Musical Performances in Westminster and the Pantheon in commemoration of Handel," a life of Metas-tasio, and the musical articles in "Rees's Cyclopaedia." His published compositions are chiefly sonatas. In 1790 he was appointed organist of Chelsea college, where he passed the remainder of his life. - Dr. Burney was twice married, and had eight children, of whom the eldest created a sensation in London in her youth by her performances on the harpsichord. The second daughter was Frances, Mme. d'Ar-blay, the novelist. (See Arblay.) Another daughter, Sarah Harriet, also wrote several novels (" Geraldine Fauconberg," " The Shipwreck," "Traits of Nature," &c), but with less success. The eldest son, James (1739-1821), was an officer in the navy, accompanied Capt. Cook in two voyages, commanded the Discovery after Cook's death, and became rear admiral. He was the author of a " Chronological History of the Discoveries in the South Sea, with a History of the Buccaneers of America" (5 vols. 4to, 1803-'17), and other works.