Flamsteed Astronomy Society

Did you know...

William Herschel, discoverer of the planet Uranus, was a fine musician and composer

CD review from Martin Male


Music; William Herschelís other talent?


I recently brought a CD of Symphonies by William Herschel (Chandos Records CHAN10048 ó Amazon £12.99) that I have found to be really excellent.


Iím sure every one will know that Herschel discovered the Planet Uranus in 1781. Many will know that he was a prolific observer and telescope maker, discovered infrared radiation and drew up a long list of deep sky objects. Many of you may know that Herschel came to England to further his career as a musician, with astronomy as a private passion, a passion that secured his place in the history books. A lot of great musicians also have a real gift for mathematics; there must be something special about the way their brains can handle numbers and notes that we mere mortals struggle with!


I imagine fewer of you will have actually heard any music by him. I admit that I had not.† Jane and I are both passionate about classical music. We attend many live performances and are avid listeners of Radio3 and have an unhealthily large CD collection.†† I brought this CD out of curiosity, not really expecting to discover an unknown master. I was really stunned by what I heard. The disc contains six short symphonies in the baroque manner, using a small chamber orchestra. His style is reminiscent of Handel or Telemann, which is saying something! He had real talent as a composer, as this disc attests. The music is really involving and one wishes that there were more of his music on record†† I hope this brief review will prompt others to explore this facet of the great astronomer.



March 15, 2005

Read more about Herschel at ó


Our Herschel Page


Visit to the Herschel Museum, Bath