John Hullah, a musician and composer, collaborated with Charles Dickens on the comic opera The Village Coquettes.
Text and scan by Philip V. Allingham
The young Charles Dickens made the acquaintance of twenty-three-year-old musician and composer John Hullah sometime around 1835 — probably through his musical sister, Fanny, who, like Hullah, had studied both vocal music and piano at the Royal Academy of Music. Dickens, having in mind writing the lyrics for "a simple rural story" in the tradition of the English ballad opera, agreed to collaborate with Hullah, not on a Ventian libretto as the young musician had originally proposed, but on what they entitled The Village Coquettes, a two-act sentimental/comic operetta set in the year 1829. It was presented as a "burletta" at St. James's Theatre on 6 December 1836, starring John Braham as Squire Norton, John Pritt Harley as Martin Stokes, and Elizabeth Rainforth as Lucy Benson. After what he regarded as an unqualified success at the St. James's (but which the Athenaeum pronounced far less successful than Dickens's novels), Hullah turned his attention to the teaching of music. From 1844 to 1882, Hullah served with distinction as Professor of Vocal Music at King's College, London, and from 1872 also served as a government music inspector at the new publicly-funded grammar schools.
"[John Hullah]" The Illustrated London News (25 June 1842): 148-49.
Last modified 27 September 2006