by Nicholas Michael - and many others
Arabella GODDARD1836 - 1922 (86 years)
Name Arabella GODDARD Born 12 Jan 1836 Saint-Malo, Brittany, France Gender Female Died 6 Apr 1922 Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais, France Person ID I1958 Our Family History Last Modified 24 Jan 2012
Father Thomas GODDARD Mother Arabella INGLES, b. Abt 1804, London, LND Family ID F12658 Group Sheet | Family Chart
Family James William DAVISON, b. 5 Oct 1813, London, LND , d. 1885 (Age 71 years) Married J1859 Pancras RD, LND Children 1. Henry DAVISON, b. Abt 1859, d. 1947 (Age ~ 88 years) 2. Charles Reginald T DAVISON Last Modified 21 Jun 2016 Family ID F1426 Group Sheet | Family Chart
Event Map Born - 12 Jan 1836 - Saint-Malo, Brittany, France Died - 6 Apr 1922 - Boulogne-sur-Mer, Pas-de-Calais, France = Link to Google Earth
Photos Arabella Goddard
From a miniature in possession of Nicholas Michael. The envelope in which it is contained, framed in ivory, bears the inscription (by Denise Michael née Laidman): "This is a miniature of ARABELLA GODDARD, a very famous concert pianist of her day. Her son, Charles Davison, married my great-aunt Laura, & they lived in Boulogne. His brother Edward [sic] was music critic of the Times of that epoch. Charles & Laura brought up my mother when she was orphaned."
Arabella Goddard, 1875
Carte de visite photo taken by William S. Warren (Boston) in 1875. Copied from: http://www.picturehistory.com/product/id/21519
Photo kindly supplied by Allister Hardiman, Melbourne, Australia, in January 2012.
- 1861 census return: RG9/71 folio 112 page 23
[London] Marylebone, Portland Place, 47 Welbeck Street
James W. Davison, Head, Mar, 47, Professor of Music, born Middlesex London
Arabella Davison, Wife, Mar, 24, Professor of Music, born France
Arabella Goddard, Mother-in-Law, Mar, 57, born Middlesex London
Eliza Bickers, Servant, Un, 24, Gen Servant, born Essex Chelmsford
In a letter to Nicholas David Michael dated 14th July 1995, Helen Mary Gordon writes: "With regard to my grandmother's sister - Laura Davison, - on one occasion when I was staying with them in Boulogne, her husband (who was a good pianist) handed me the enclosed card sent to his mother [i.e: Arabella Goddard (DAVISON)] by the singer "Patti" - his mother was the accompanist to the great singer - & told me to keep it." The small card, embossed with the address "67 Carlton Hill, London N.W.", is dated 20/12/10 and reads "Love & all good wishes to Arabella from Patti" The envelope is addressed to "Madam Arabella Goddard/1 rue du Segnaux [?]/Boulogne sur Mer". [Adelina Patti (1843-1919) was a highly acclaimed singer of the late 19th century]
ARABELLA GODDARD IN AUSTRALIA
"We have had the foundation stone of a temple to Apollo laid by one of the greatest of his high priestesses." (The Melbourne Argus, September 25, 1874 - referring to the laying of the foundation stone of Ballarat's Academy of Music).
On an overcast September day in 1874, with rain threatening, 1500 people gathered in Lydiard Street, Ballarat, opposite Craig's Royal Hotel, to witness the laying of the foundation stone of Ballarat's new theatre, the Academy of Music. Hoardings, decorated with flags of many nations, screened the building works from the street as the stone hung ready for the ceremony.
The architect, George "Diamond" Browne, had called on visiting British pianist Madame Arabella Goddard in her rooms at Craig's Hotel and asked her to officiate at the ceremony. The lady graciously consented and Browne had a presentation silver trowel engraved for the event.
Madame Goddard had been born in France, in 1836, to Thomas Goddard, heir to a Salisbury cutlery firm, and his wife Arabella Ingles. Her family were members of the considerable community of English expatriates living in fashionable St. Servan, a suburb of the historic port city of St. Malo in Brittany. Later in life, Goddard was very proud of her French background and identified with French culture, her conversation being interspersed with French phrases.
Little Arabella was the darling of the family, ten years younger than her only sister, Ann. She was taught piano from an early age and became a child prodigy, playing for Queen Victoria and the French royal family. When Thomas Goddard suffered business reversals and had to leave France at the time of the 1848 February Revolution, the family found themselves in difficult circumstances. The talented young Arabella was put on the concert platform to save the family fortunes. She found a champion and mentor in J.W. Davison, influential music critic and teacher, who guided her musical taste away from Thalberg and popular Victorian composers and moulded her into a notable performer of the classical repertoire, most notably Beethoven sonatas.
Davison married his young protégée in 1859. According to the famous pianist Hans von Bulow, Goddard "tyrannized over London for years....Davison would not allow any other pianist than his wife to exist."
James William Davison was son of a popular actress, Miss Maria Duncan. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music and was a very minor composer. At one point, he published a version of Rossini's "Stabat Mater," arranged by himself as a dance tune, a gaffe which was to cause embarrassment to a generation of English musicians visiting Italy. He was also a teacher, publisher and editor of a journal, The Musical World, and became music critic for The Times in 1846, from which position he attempted to dictate England's musical taste until 1878.
He was a very difficult man, notorious for his conservatism and extreme opinions, and he refused to endorse any composers after Mendelssohn. Wagner was one of his pet hates. There is also strong evidence that he received bribes in return for favourable criticism. He is credited with having inhibited, single-handed, the development of British musical taste for many years.
Davison is also reputed to have been very difficult in private life, and after the birth of two sons, Henry and Charles, Goddard separated from him.
An entertaining biography of him by Charles Reid, The Music Monster, was published in 1984, much of it based on Music of the Victorian Era, a 1912 reminiscence of his father by Davison's son Henry, a minor poet.
Madame Goddard was in Ballarat for three nights as part of a three-year long world tour prior to her retirement from the concert stage. The tour, between 1873 and 1876, took her to Australia, India, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore, Java and back to Australia, then to New Zealand, California, New York and Canada.
The response to her concerts in the Australian colonies was adulatory. Local entrepreneur R.S. Smythe, who was managing the Australian leg of her tour, was skilful in whipping up support, and she had profitable seasons in Melbourne and Sydney before she left for India and the European colonies of the Far East.
On the evening of June 20, 1874, on the return trip from Java, her ship, the RMS Flintshire, was wrecked off Townsville and Madame Goddard spent a night of torrential rain in an open boat, which she shared with the Great Blondin, also in the middle of a world tour.
Both pianiste and tight-rope walker were stranded in Townsville for a week until the heavy baggage could be removed from the ship. Madame Goddard was particularly anxious about her magnificent iron-framed Broadwood piano, built for a recent Vienna Exhibition. The weight of the piano was holding the wreck stable, and it was feared that if it was removed, the vessel would sink. During the delay, the Malay sailors left on board ransacked the passengers' luggage, and all Goddard's mementoes and gifts presented to her so far on the tour were stolen.
Storm in Sydney
By July 1874, Madame Goddard was back in Sydney for a series of concerts at the School of Arts. The performances were so well received that the series was extended and transferred to the Royal Victoria Theatre, managed by John Bennett. In fact the public were so enthusiastic, and so clamorous for encores, that tensions started emerging as to the lady's willingness to satisfy the demands of the audiences. Some press commentators were evidently embarrassed by the crass behaviour of the Sydney audiences; others were critical of the lady for her cool demeanour.
However, these slight tensions were nothing compared to the trouble that erupted at the end of the concert series. The problem arose when Madame Goddard refused to share the bill for a projected tour to Bathurst and Orange with one Mrs Hilton. Mrs Hilton, a music hall singer also known as Miss Liddle, had recently been performing at Sydney's Café Chantant in York Street, later the Queen's Theatre. As one of Goddard's agents put it, Mrs Hilton was "selected from halls dedicated to acrobatism, human spiders, men fish and buffoonery."
After Goddard received threats that her final Sydney concert would be disrupted with "cabbages, carrots, turnips and eggs," and a riot caused, she decided that discretion was the better part of valour and took the next steamer for Melbourne. To quote the Evening Post of August 22, Madame Goddard "skedaddled from Sydney under suspicious circumstances." It was alleged that her passage on the SS Dandenong was booked in the name of Miss Christian, an Australian member of her touring party.
John Bennett, the disgruntled manager of the Sydney theatre, and organiser of the proposed country tour, announced her departure from the stage of the Royal Victoria on the evening of 20 August 1874. He read a letter supposedly written by Madame Goddard, which said in part: "I have received several anonymous letters intimating that I am to expect an unfavorable reception this evening, in consequence of my not having engaged native talent to assist me. I need not tell you…how much I admire the Australian people, but I was perfectly unaware that the natives of Australia were musical. The negroes of the Southern States of America are the only musical blacks that I ever heard of."
The letter caused howls of protest in Sydney. Madame Goddard indignantly denied ever writing it and signed a statutory declaration to that effect. In her haste to leave Sydney, however, she had been forced to leave behind her Broadwood piano, which Bennett held to ransom and allowed other performers to use. While her agent negotiated with the aggrieved manager, Goddard was lent a substitute for the remainder of her Australian concerts.
The incident in Sydney recalled an earlier occasion in the tour back in August 1873, when Madame Goddard had appeared at the Geelong Mechanics' Institute. Tour manager Smythe had taken exception to some comments published in the magazine The Pivot critical of certain members of the company. He then took the unusual step of printing them in the concert programme, presumably in a spirit of defiance. During the first half of the concert, a row had erupted backstage with the two artists criticised, Mrs Cutter and Signor Susini, wanting to know why the comments had been reprinted.
Madame Goddard had become hysterical, a doctor had been summoned from the audience, and the great pianiste had been driven home in her carriage. Not only were the Geelong public deprived of her second appearance in the concert, but she was still not sufficiently recovered to appear at a concert scheduled for the Melbourne Town Hall next day: a concert the Melbourne Herald had described as "'Hamlet' without the Prince of Denmark."
When it came to Goddard's problem with Sydney, Melbourne Punch suggested that the problems arose because of the "fulsome adoration" Madame Goddard had encountered earlier in her visit:
"If you had had the good fortune to be 'let alone,' the name of Goddard would not be known through the length and breadth of these 'fair countries' as a signal for disputes and wranglings, but as a clever, undoubtedly great artiste; and your reminiscences of the Australias would have been confined to o'erflowing coffers, and enthusiastic welcomes and regretful farewells."
She was evidently a "tall poppy" of the 1870's.
After the Sydney furore, Goddard was welcomed back to Melbourne with open arms, with some element of inter-city rivalry no doubt coming into play. The Weekly Times felt that the reception she received at one of her Melbourne concerts "should compensate for a whole wilderness of Sydneys." There were even suggestions that Smythe, the agent, had orchestrated the whole affair as a way of ensuring Madame Goddard a warm reception in Melbourne. Eventually The Argus refused to publish any more correspondence on the subject.
A successful concert series was organised, including visits to Ballarat, Geelong and Castlemaine. Fortunately, the laying of the foundation stone of Ballarat's new Academy of Music went smoothly, the celebrated pianiste gave the building her blessing, and then the official party retired over the road to Craig's Hotel, where toasts were drunk with celebratory bumpers of champagne.
After a visit to New Zealand, Goddard took ship for San Francisco. She had an extended stay in California, and she even considered moving there. She made her New York debut in October 1875, under contract to impresario Max Strakosch, who presented her at Steinway Hall in a double bill with the singer Mlle Theresa Titiens. Her 3 month contract with Strakosch reportedly delivered her $15,000, gold. After a visit to Canada, she evidently returned to the States for a visit to the 1876 Centennial Exposition before coming home to England in the summer of 1876.
On Madame Goddard's return to the London stage in October 1876, a critic in the press posed the question whether her powers as a musician had suffered from "ministering to the tastes of a comparatively uncultured public." It was felt some deterioration had occurred, but that "the ground will be made up, just as a plant, affected by removal to an uncongenial climate, recovers when again breathing its native air."
After her retirement from performing, she taught for some time and eventually died at her house in Boulogne in 1922.
Tragedy dogged Goddard's descendants. Her elder son Henry Davison had three sons and two daughters: two sons were killed in the First World War, and the third died soon after from his experiences at the Front, and one daughter, an artist, died of consumption at around the same time. Her younger son, Charles Davison, was killed when the Boulogne house was bombed by the Allies in 1940, and his widow was interned in Troyes for the rest of the War.
Much of Davison and Goddard's collections of music, books and memorabilia were destroyed during the Second World War. Her last surviving grandchild, Marie Davison, after a brief career as a music hall singer, devoted her life to working with the poor of London's East End. When she died, any surviving Goddard-Davison memorabilia were inherited by the Kenney family, relatives of Henry's Davison's wife Laura Kenney.
© Peter Freund, 2004
The following biography was kindly submitted by Allister Hardiman in January 2012:
Arabella Goddard (1836–1922), pianist, was born at St Servan, near St Malo, France, on 12 January 1836, the daughter of Thomas Goddard. At the age of four she played in her village, and went to Paris to take lessons from Frédéric Kalkbrenner when she was six. She studied further with Lucy Anderson, and in 1844, at the age of eight, played before another of Mrs Anderson's pupils, Queen Victoria, and in the same year published Six Waltzes for piano. She made her début at the Grand National Concerts at Her Majesty's Theatre on 23 October 1850. She was then recommended by Sigismond Thalberg, who had given her some lessons, to study interpretation with J. W. Davison, and also had composition lessons with George Macfarren. Much influenced by Davison, she was one of the first to study and perform Beethoven's late works, playing his B[flat] sonata, op. 106, from memory at a concert of the Quartet Association at Willis's Rooms on 14 April 1853; and on 11 May she performed Sterndale Bennett's third piano concerto at the New Philharmonic Concerts. She then toured Germany and Italy, playing Mendelssohn's D minor concerto at the Leipzig Gewandhaus in October 1855.
Back in England, her stature now widely recognized, Goddard played Bennett's concerto at the Philharmonic Society on 9 June 1856, and also performed at the Crystal Palace and at the Monday Popular Concerts. In 1857 and 1858 she played all Beethoven's late sonatas (opp. 106 to 111), as well as a wide repertory of new music, and in 1859 gave his ‘Eroica’ symphony as a piano solo at the Bradford festival; she also appeared at festivals in Leeds (1858), Birmingham (1861–70), and Gloucester (1865). She married Davison on 12 May 1859. From 1873 to 1876 she toured America, Australia, and India; before leaving, she gave a farewell concert in March 1873, accompanying some of the most distinguished soloists of the day as well as playing solos. She virtually retired in 1880, though her last concert was with Sims Reeves on 21 March 1882; she was given a benefit concert at St James's Hall on 9 March 1890. The latter part of her life was lived at Tunbridge Wells in failing health and comparative obscurity. She died in Boulogne on 6 April 1922.
Sources From Mendelssohn to Wagner: being the memoirs of J. W. Davison, forty years the music critic of The Times, ed. H. Davison (1912) · Brown & Stratton, Brit. mus. · The Times (26 March 1885) · Grove, Dict. mus. · [S. Morison and others], The history of The Times, 2 (1939), 65, 443, 594 · Correspondance générale: Hector Berlioz, ed. P. Citron, 3 (Paris, 1978) · Correspondance générale: Hector Berlioz, ed. P. Citron, 4 (Paris, 1983) · A. W. Ganz, Berlioz in London (1950) · MT, 26 (1885), 221 · m. cert. · d. cert.
- 1861 census return: RG9/71 folio 112 page 23