Robert Lucas Pearsall
Born: 14 March 1795
Died: 5 August 1856
Biography Robert Lucas Pearsall was born at Clifton Hill, Bristol, into a wealthy Quaker family. His father was an army officer and amateur musician. He was privately educated and practiced as a barrister in Bristol. In 1825, after suffering a stroke, he took his family to live abroad—first to Mainz, then to Karlsruhe (1830), studying mensural notation with the caecilian Caspar Ett (Munich 1832). He sold the family estate in Willsbridge and, in 1842, bought Wartensee Castle, a ruined medieval keep near Rorschach in Switzerland and spent several years restoring it. He remained there until his death. Pearsall was an amateur composer and many of his compositions were not published until after his death. He is best remembered for his part-songs, many of which were madrigals. He also wrote orchestral works, anthems, services, musical treatises, and edited a Catholic hymnal. His extensive writings encompass works on chant, heraldry, and verse translations of Schiller & Goethe. He kept in touch with his home city of Bristol and wrote many pieces for the Bristol Madrigal Society. He also composed poetry, some of which he used for his madrigals, such as ‘Why Do the Roses’ and ‘Why should the cuckoo’s tuneful note’. The particle “de” often spelled in his name is a feature added after his death by his daughter Philippa.
A ms. copy in Pearsall's hand is exhibit A in proposing him as a plausible suspect for the anonymous composer of 'Rossini's Cat Duet'.
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Settings of text by Robert Lucas Pearsall
- Come let us be merry (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- The hardy Norseman's house of yore (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- In dulci jubilo (Philip Le Bas)
- Let us all go Maying (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- O! all ye ladies fair and true (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- See how smoothly (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- The song of the Frank companies (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- War song of the Norman Baron Taillefer (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- When last I strayed (Robert Lucas Pearsall)
- Why should the cuckoo's tuneful note (Robert Lucas Pearsall)