Richard 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
Richard, Seventh Viscount Fitzwilliam of Merrion (1745Ė1816), the Founder of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, was an enthusiastic and highly informed amateur of music. His distinguished accomplishment as a collector of historic musical texts is widely recognized and epitomised by the extensive library that he amassed, whilst the broad extent of his public championship of Handelís music, through his prominent association with the annual Handel Commemoration Festivals, the Concert of Ancient Music, and the charitable fund-raising activities of the Royal Society of Musicians is also well-known. But Fitzwilliamís personal musical interests and accomplishments as a performer and composer have generally been overlooked, even though several important musical holdings in the Museumís collection pay eloquent testimony to these interests. Evaluation of this material moreover reveals not only a conscious effort on his part to acquire specific sources, but also his subsequently thorough, detailed and applied engagement of a number of them in the advancement of his own skills as a keyboard player and composer.