George Onlsow (1784 – 1853)
George Onslow was dubbed “the French Beethoven”. Descendant of an aristocratic English family he was educated in France as a privileged gentleman, taking up composition in his twenties as an amateur cellist (and pianist who never performed publically). He studied composition with the famous Anton Reicha in 1808 (before Reicha wrote his own celebrated series of wind quintets). Onslow went on to become hugely popular, writing 36 string quartets and 34 quintets, with a strong following in Germany and England. He also wrote a number of piano trios, several operas, and four symphonies . As for wind quintets, he wrote only one (opus 81), rather late in his career (1850) aged 66. His music embodied the traditional school, announcing a rich Romanticism in harmony and lyricism. He received many public honours, and as his portrait above suggests, he was respected and appreciated for his very generous personality.