The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Arabella Goddard

Arabella Goddard

A hand-coloured carte-de-visite portrait of the pianist Arabella Goddard (1836-1922). Renown for her high-class repertoire, during much of the nineteenth century she was regarded as England’s leading pianist.

Born at St. Servan near St. Malo on 12 January 1836, at the age of six she went to Paris to study with Kalkbrenner. After the 1848 revolution her family settled in London, where she continued her studies with Lucy Anderson and Thalberg. Her first London appearance was at Her Majesty’s Theatre on 23 October 1850. Her Philharmonic debut was due to take place in 1853 but she refused to back down when conductor Michael Costa, engaged in a long-standing feud with Sterndale Bennett, refused to conduct that composer’s Concerto in C minor.

Her concert engagements parallel the history of mid-Victorian musical institutions, in particular the Monday and Saturday Popular Concerts. She performed with renowned artists including Joseph Joachim, Henri Vieuxtemps, and Clara Schumann, and she was an early champion of the late Beethoven sonatas. Her extensive concert tours included not only Britain, the Continent, and America, but such far-flung outposts of the British Empire as India, Ceylon, Australia, Hong Kong, and New Zealand.

In 1860 she married the critic J.W. Davidson, with whom she had studied the interpretation of the classics. In the early 1880’s she retired from performance but continued to teach, becoming one of the professors at the Royal College of Music when it opened in 1883. By 1890, when a benefit was organised by friends, she had fallen into financial difficulties. She died at Boulogne on 6 April 1922.

[The majority of the above biographical information is taken from The New Grove Dictionary of Music, 2001.]

Photographed by W.E. Debenham of London.


Code: 125671
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