Thomas à Becket
Thomas a'Becket (March 17, 1808 - January 6, 1890) was an actor and musician credited with writing the music and the words, in 1843, to "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean". Born in Chatham, England, A'Becket came to the United States in 1837 and spent much of his life in Philadelphia. At one time, he served as the stage manager of the actor Edwin Booth and for many years was the director of the Walnut Street Theatre, in Philadelphia, where he also had a long acting career. During his early years in America, he gave music lessons and sang in operas.
He died in Philadelphia from heart failure and was buried in the Fernwood Cemetery, west of the city.. His diaries are in deposit at the New York Public Library. (Only one photograph of him is known to exist, and it is in Widener Library, of Harvard University.) His son, Thomas a'Becket, Jr. (1843-1918), was also a musician and, in his youth, worked with John Philip Sousa.
Despite the great renown of "Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean," A'Becket never received any fame from having composed it. This is quite probably because of the confusion over the anthem's authorship.
Birth and Death Data: Born 1808, Died 1890
Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1894 - 1940
Roles Represented in DAHR: arranger
|Company||Matrix No.||Size||First Recording Date||Title||Primary Performer||Description||Role||Audio|
|Berliner||28||7-in.||1/16/1896||Red, white and blue||Band (unidentified; Berliner Gramophone Co.)||Band||arranger|
|Berliner||165||7-in.||Before 1895||Red, white and blue||Male vocalist (unidentified; Berliner Gramophone Co.)||Male vocal solo||arranger|
|Berliner||1853||7-in.||June 1898||Red, white and blue||John Terrell||Male vocal solo||arranger|
|Berliner||3190||7-in.||Mar. 1898-Mar. 1899||Red white and blue||Virginia Powell Goodwin ; William L. Thornton||Female-male vocal duet, with vocal chorus||arranger|
|Berliner||0792||7-in.||12/8/1899||Columbia, the gem of the ocean||Florence Hayward||Female vocal solo||arranger|
|Victor||[Pre-matrix A-]826||7-in.||5/21/1901||The red, white and blue||J. W. Myers||Male vocal solo, with piano||arranger|
|Victor||[Pre-matrix B-]826||10-in.||4/29/1902||The red, white and blue||J. W. Myers||Male vocal solo, with piano||arranger|
|Victor||[Pre-matrix B-]3388||10-in.||5/21/1901||The red, white and blue||J. W. Myers||Male vocal solo, with piano||arranger|
|Victor||B-1831||10-in.||10/26/1904||American patriotic airs||Arthur Pryor's Band||Band||arranger|
|Victor||B-20474||10-in.||8/1/1917||Columbia, the gem of the ocean||Ferdinand Himmelreich||Piano solo||arranger|
|Victor||BVE-38076||10-in.||6/13/1927||Battle hymn of the Republic||Mark Andrews||Pipe organ solo||arranger|
|Victor||BVE-49434||10-in.||6/21/1929||Battle hymn of the Republic||Ralph Crane||Male vocal solo, with orchestra||arranger|
|Victor||BS-048771||10-in.||4/11/1940||America||Emile Coté ; Victor Mixed Chorus||Mixed vocal chorus, with organ||arranger|
|Columbia||47395||10-in.||2/28/1917||Red, white and blue||Adkins Morton||Male vocal solo, with orchestra||arranger|
|Brunswick||10593-10596||10-in.||5/9/1923||Red, white and blue||Brunswick Mixed Chorus||Mixed vocal chorus, with orchestra||arranger|
|Edison||3391||10-in.||Oct. 1914||The red, white and blue||Walter Van Brunt||Male vocal solo and vocal ensemble, with orchestra||arranger|
|Edison||6243||10-in.||6/21/1918||Columbia, the gem of the ocean||Thomas Chalmers||Male vocal solo and mixed vocal ensemble, with orchestra||arranger|
Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Becket, Thomas à," accessed September 18, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116650.
Becket, Thomas à. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved September 18, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/116650.
"Becket, Thomas à." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 18 September 2021.
DAHR Persistent Identifier
Send the Editors a message about this record.