Johann Christoph Pepusch

Johann Christoph [John Christopher] Pepusch (1666/7-1752)

Born in Berlin, Pepusch was a musical theorist and composer who worked in London for most of his life. He was an instrumental band player at several theatres, for which he also composed masque music. He wrote the overture and arranged much of the music for John Gay's The Beggar's Opera, first performed in 1728.

He was much in demand as a teacher, with several pupils later becoming notable musicians. One such student was William Boyce, later to become Master of the King's Musick. For many years Pepusch was musical director to the Duke of Chandos at Cannons, a large London house. The resident composer for two years during this period was GF Handel.

Pepusch's academic achievements included the award of Doctor of Music from Oxford and Fellowship of the Royal Society, but arguably his most important contribution to musical scholarship was as one of the founders of the Academy of Vocal Music, established in 'an attempt to restore ancient church music'. It included some of the most prominent foreign musicians in London, and its first meeting was 'held at ye Crown Tavern near St. Clement's'. In 1736 he became Director of the Academy, by now the Academy of Ancient Music, a post which he held until his death.