II. Surviving Works, New Editions, and Recordings
Jane Savage was an English musician and composer, the daughter of the prominent London musician William Savage (ca. 1720–1789) and Mary Bolt Savage (d. 1788). Growing up in a musician’s family, she would have become familiar with current practice. She would have been able to study music, including composition, with her father, a noted teacher, and she would have had opportunities to perform.
Other than that she was a virtuoso keyboard player and an accomplished composer of keyboard music, songs, and other vocal music, little is known of Jane Savage’s life. In view of the popularity of her music during her lifetime, it is likely that she composed further works that have not survived. Probably around 1790, after her mother and father had died, she married Mr. R. Rolleston, whom R.J.S. Stevens (1757–1837), one of her father’s former students, described as “a respectable merchant of Mincing Lane.” Whether she continued her musical activities, she apparently published no music under her married name. Whether she continued her musical activities, she apparently published no music under her married name.
Her surviving works consist of seven titles, opus numbers 2 through 8, all published in London. Though her opus 1 has not survived, typically at this time it would have been a set of keyboard sonatas. Opp. 2 and 8 were published by “the author,” and opp. 3 through 7 were published by Longman & Broderip “for the author,” designations that suggest that she was able to sell her music and probably had students. In 1783 she published Six Easy Lessons for the Harpsichord or Pianoforte … opera 2d. The Six Rondos for the Harpsichord or Pianoforte … op. III probably followed soon after. Her address, according to the title page, was No. 22 East Street, Red Lion Square.
The next two works are for voice and keyboard instrument: Strephan & Flavia, A Favorite Cantata … opera IV; and Hall the Woodman, A Favorite Song … opera V. A Favorite Duett for Two Performers on One Pianoforte or Harpsichord, Opera VI, appeared in 1789. Her last two surviving titles are: Two Duetts, for voices (and keyboard) … opera VII; and God Save the King, Adapted as a Double Lesson for the Pianoforte, Opera 8th.
Jane Savage’s father, William Savage, began his career as a professional singer and teacher of singing. In 1744 he was appointed a Gentleman-in-Ordinary in the Chapel Royal, as a bass voice, and in 1747, Almoner, Vicar Choral, and Master of the Choristers in St. Paul’s Cathedral. He sang bass in G. F. Handel’s oratorios and operas, conducted by Handel, and sang as principal bass in William Boyce’s Band of Musicians to his Majesty King George the Third. Savage also composed anthems and other kinds of church music that were widely known and performed, and a few of his works were published. He made a substantial living as a musician, and his wife, Mary Bolt, brought a considerable fortune to the marriage as well. Stevens later described her as “a very amiable and accomplished woman,” adding that “she was also considered a beautiful woman,” and “in the latter part of her life she published a small book of poems which were thought to be ingenious compositions.”
Besides their daughter, Jane, the Savages had two sons, William (named for his father), who became a clerk for the East India Co. and “died prematurely in the West Indies” (according to Stevens), and the Reverend George Savage (d. 1816). In 1777 or 1778, William Savage (Jane’s father), having suffered ill health since 1773, retired from London (presumably, with his family) to an estate at Tenterden, in Kent, living there for three or four years. When his health was restored, in 1780 or 1781, he returned to London and lived (according to Stevens) in East Street, Red Lion Square, Holborn—the address given in Jane Savage’s Six Rondos, op. 3. He resumed teaching singing and the “science of music” (music theory and composition), but was unable to regain his former cathedral positions. Jane Savage published her music, then, during the years after the family’s return to London.
II. Surviving Works and Modern Edition
Works are listed in order of publication. Library locations are from Barbara Garvey Jackson, “Say Can You Deny Me”: A Guide to Surviving Music by Women from the 16th through the 18th Centuries (Fayetteville, AR: Univesity of Arkansas Press, 1994): 336–37.
Op. 2: Six Easy lessons for the harpsichord or pianoforte … opera 2d. London: author . 21 pp. GB: Lam.
Op. 3: Six rondos for the harpsichord or pianoforte … op. III. London: Longman & Broderip, for the author [ca. 1783, sometimes dated 1786, sometimes ca. 1790]. 13 pp. GB: Cu, Gu, Lam, Lbl.
- New edition (from Lbl copy) of nos. 1, 3, and 5, edited, with introduction, by D. Hayes, in Women Composers: Music Through the Ages, edited by Sylvia Glickman and Martha Schleifer (12 vols; New York: G. K. Hall/Macmillan, 1995– ), vol. 3, pp. 127–141.
Op. 4: Strephan & Flavia. A favorite cantata … opera IV. (Solo voice with kbd.) London: Longman & Broderip, for the author [ca. 1790; sometimes dated 1786]. 9 pp. GB: Gu, Lam, Lbl.
Op. 5: Hall the woodman. A Favorite Song [with keyboard accompaniment] … opera V. London: Longman & Broderip, for the author [ca. 1790]. 5 pp. GB: Gu, Lbl.
Op. 6: A Favorite Duett [C] for Two Performers on One Pianoforte or Harpsichord, Opera VI. London: Longman & Broderip, for the author [ca. 1790]. GB: Lam, Lbl, Ob.
Op. 7: Two Duetts, for Voices [with keyboard accompaniment]… opera VII. London: Longman & Broderip, for the author [ca. 1790, sometimes dated 1789]. 8 pp. GB: Gu, Lbl.
Op. 8: God Save the King. Adapted as a Double Lesson for the Pianoforte. Opera 8th. London: author [ca. 1790]. 5 pp. GB: Ckc, Lbl, Ob.
Brown, James Duff. British Musical Biography: A Dictionary of Musical Artists, Authors and Composers Born in Britain and its Colonies. Birmingham: Stratton, 1897.
Caldwell, John. English Keyboard Music Before the Nineteenth Century. New York: Praeger, 1973.
Cowgill, Rachel E. “Jane Savage.” Grove Music Online, accessed February 2013.
Cudworth, Charles. “Jane Savage.” New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. London: Macmillan, 1980.
———. “Jane Savage.” New Grove (Norton/Grove) Dictionary of Women Composers. London: Macmillan, 1994. New York: Norton, 1995.
Farmer, Henry George. “A Forgotten Composer of Anthems: William Savage (1720–89).” Music and Letters 17/3 (July 1936): 188–99.
Jackson, Barbara Garvey. “Say Can You Deny Me”: A Guide to Surviving Music by Women from the 16th through the 18th Centuries. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1994.