William Crotch has a funny name. I know this because choristers laugh when you say it. Also, on a few copies of the choristers' music, his last name is circled.
So, ha ha. Very funny. But who is this William Crotch exactly? Well, turns out his name may be funny, but Crotch was a serious musician.
The son of a carpenter (like Jesus?), Crotch was a musical child prodigy. At 18 months, he was already picking out tunes on the family house organ (also like Jesus?)
Now, back in the time of Crotch (is that a good name for a band, or what?), the circus was a popular form of entertainment. Unlike today, however, circuses (pronounced: SIR-cuh-sees) consisted not of animal entertainment, but mostly child entertainment. It is for this reason that persons with Dwarfism were often employed by later circuses: they were the new "children" in an era of oppressive child-labor laws.
HIDDEN (a Crotch size clarification): There's nothing small about our Crotch. He eventually reaches full size.
In the circus, William Crotch resided in a tent that contained an organ, whereupon he would bedazzle his listeners with his improvisations. These were probably not great musical feats, but for a two year old to improvise chords to a melody learned by ear is certainly something. Also, he got free cotton candy.
HIDDEN (inappropriate remark): One wonders if this tent had a fly, and whether it was open or closed.
Today's "soccer moms" descend from a league of overbearing "circus moms" who enlisted their young children in these precocious presentations of prodigy. Crotch's mother, Isabella, accompanied Crotch and the circus on a grand world tour.
HIDDEN (another one): It was in this way that her young Crotch gained much exposure.
Anyway, long story short. Crotch the freak-show boy-wonder grew up to be Crotch the mildly adequate composer. Though he did play the organ at Kings College, Cambridge, which is pretty cool.
Incidentally, when I program my own concerts, I want to end up with a poster that looks like this:
selections from Palestine
also, music by Bach, including his
Air on the G String
Crotch also may have provided the basis for Louis Vierne's Carillon de Westminster if he did indeed design the Westminster Chime.
Crotch the painter: Crotch's talent didn't limit itself to music. He was also a painter.
Alma mater tangent: It is with not a small amount of pride and a tinge of nostalgia that I note that an image search for crotch brings up a number of unflattering pictures of Paris Hilton and photo taken in an Oberlin music theory classroom.
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