J. P. Salomon

Johann Peter Salomon (1745-1815)

by Sir William Beechey in 1784

Born in Bonn, the violinist and impressario J. P. Salomon spent the first half of his life in Germany, but moved to London in 1780 to become an orchestral leader. He persuaded Haydn to visit London and compose music for a series of his concerts, which led to the twelve 'London' or 'Salomon' symphonies. No. 97 actually includes a solo violin part for Salomon, wittily marked Salomon Solo ma piano (softly!).

Before Haydn finally departed from London, Salomon gave the composer a libretto for an oratorio The Creation, but to his disappointment the work was composed and first performed in Vienna, and even its London première was presented by his rival, John Ashley.

Salomon was also a minor composer, whose most ambitious work was an English opera entitled Windsor Castle.
In Haydn's absence, Salomon's former pre-eminence in London musical life declined, and he died of dropsy, aged 70. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

The portrait was painted in 1784 by the Burford-born portraitist Sir William Beechey (1753-1839), whose monumental painting His Majesty Reviewing the Third Dragoon Guards and the Tenth Light Dragoon helped him to secure a knighthood and become Royal Academician. It is perhaps ironic that this painting was to perish in the 1992 fire at Windsor Castle