WILLIAM HENRY FRY (1813 - 1864)
William Henry Fry was the first native-born American to compose for large symphonic forces and the first to write a grand opera, as well as the first music critic for a leading newspaper. Much of his music won contemporary popularity in the United States.
Fry’s first opera, Aurelia the Vestal, was followed by the grand opera Leonora, based on Bulwer-Lytton’s The Lady of Lyons, and the lyrical drama Notre Dame of Paris, after Victor Hugo.
Fry’s best-known work is his ‘Christmas Symphony’ Santa Claus, a celebration of Christmas, sacred and secular. His pictorial symphony Niagara was written for P.T. Barnum and the operatic The Breaking Heart was popular in its time. His Overture to Macbeth, a late work, is again programmatic.