Thomas Augustine Arne was a prominent British composer of the 18th century. He is principally remembered for his dramatic works. Despite his father's objections to his musical career, Arne taught himself everything he needed as an audience member at the opera. His first opera, Rosamond debuted in 1733, starring Arne's siblings, and was an instant success. Many of his works were written as commissions for Drury Lane theatre, including incidental music for theatre and several masques.
As well as composing settings of Shakespeare Songs, and make other lyric works, Thomas Arne is also credited with the composition of the famous melody 'Rule, Britannia' which was first used as a movement in Alfred, a Masque. Although the original masque is rarely, if ever, performed, 'Rule, Britannia' has become something of a second national anthem in Britain.
Arne wrote his operas in the Italian style, following the fashion of his contemporary composers, and the new works he saw on the stages of Covent Garden and Drury Lane. Despite Handel's great success with opera seria on English stages, it was actually Thomas Arne who wrote the first opera seria using an English language libretto. Artaxerxes premiered in 1762 and remained popular until the early 19th century.
More about Thomas Arne