WHRB (Harvard’s student radio station) came along with a piece of pleasant Baroque music (for organ and strings) that was entirely unfamiliar to me, so I looked up at the identifying tag in iTunes. Which told me it was by Arne. Not my friend Arne Adolfsen (with his Norwegian-derived disyllabic personal name), but Thomas Arne (with his British, but presumably ultimately Scandinavian-derived, monosyllabic family name). I had just heard one of his six Concerti for Organ and Strings, probably #2 in G major.

A fascinating but little-known figure, who suffered musically by being overshadowed by Handel and personally by being Catholic (so he was barred from the usual sources of patronage) and also a renowned lecher.

From Wikipedia:

Thomas Augustine Arne (12 March 1710 – 5 March 1778) was a British composer, best known for the patriotic song Rule, Britannia!. He also wrote a version of God Save the King, which was to become the [de facto] British national anthem, and the song A-Hunting We Will Go. Arne was the leading British theatre composer of the 18th century, working at Drury Lane and Covent Garden.

Here’s a fine YouTube recording (performed by The English Concert under the direction of Trevor Pinnock on harpsichord) of the first two movements (Largo; Allegro con spirito) of Arne’s Concerto No. 5 for harpsichord, ripieno oboes, strings, and basso continuo in G minor:

On the name. The source of the personal name and the family name is the Germanic ‘eagle’ root, seen in English in the literary noun erne ‘sea eagle’ — and in my own personal name Arnold, etymologically ‘eagle-strong’. (I suppose I could mimic the U.S. Army and recruit under the slogan “Arnold Strong”.)



4 Responses to “Arne”

  1. Julian Lander Says:

    I didn’t know you listened to WHRB. I do sometimes, especially in the morning when they do jazz. I find it very strange to be driving to work early in the day while playing music (jazz) that I associate with late nights and some degree of dissipation. I feel that I should be driving to work with a cigarette in one hand and a cocktail in the other, which would be both illegal and completely out of character since I neither smoke nor drink.

  2. arnold zwicky Says:

    iTunes allows for a gigantic array of internet streaming (you can get a diet of viola da gamba music, or all Yo Yo Ma, or much stranger stuff). I’ve set things up for quick-click access to WHRB, BBC3, and CBC in Vancouver, as well as the Bay Area stations I listen to most.

    Around 50 years ago, when I lived in Cambridge, WGBH (FM) used to carry (on Saturday nights, I think) a program by the “Jazz Priest” (Father Norman James O’Connor), who had that great smoky jazz-announcer voice. It would have been very odd to get that in the morning drive time.

  3. Michael Palmer Says:

    The surname “Arne” could also be taken from Arne, the name of a place in Dorset (, probably derived from Saxon “ærn” (dwelling).

  4. Tony Polar Says:

    Thank you for sharing your musical selections with us. After discovering your blog this past week (yes, it’s 2017), I have been eagerly reading, and listening to all your postings.

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