William Selby

William Selby (1738–1798[1]) was an American composer,[2] organist and choirmaster.[3]

William Selby
London, England
Died1798 (aged 59)
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation(s)church musician, composer
Years active1755–1798

Early lifeEdit

Born in England, Selby was the third known son of Joseph and Mary Selby of London.[4]: 12  Beginning at the age of 17, he held several positions in London as organist. Selby emigrated to Boston, Massachusetts.[4]


In 1774, Selby became the organist at Trinity Church in Newport, Rhode Island. Three years later, Selby became organist at King's Chapel in Boston where he organized the first colonial music festival.[5]

Selby's surviving works include two voluntaries and one Fugue for the organ, a lesson in C for the harpsichord, and an anthem for Thanksgiving Day. In addition to his musical endeavors, he managed a grocery and liquor shop.[6]


  1. ^ "American Composer Timeline". Vox Novus.
  2. ^ Flood, W. H. Grattan (1 August 1924). "New Light on Late Tudor Composers: I. William Selby". The Musical Times. Musical Times Publications Ltd. 65 (978): 703–704. doi:10.2307/912257. JSTOR 912257.[dead link]
  3. ^ McKay, D. (1971). "William Selby, Musical Emigre in Colonial Boston". The Musical Quarterly. LVII (4): 609–627. doi:10.1093/mq/LVII.4.609. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  4. ^ a b Temperley, Nicholas (2003). Bound for America: Three British Composers. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02847-3.
  5. ^ Biggs, E. Power, ed. (1955). A Treasury of Shorter Organ Classics. Bryn Mawr, PA: Merrymount Music Press. p. 1.
  6. ^ Lindstrom, Carl E. (1939). "William Billings and His Times". The Musical Quarterly. 25 (4): 479–497. doi:10.1093/mq/XXV.4.479. ISSN 0027-4631. JSTOR 738861.