Washington's Birthday - Reinagle

Feb 22, 2018

Credit SC Public Radio/Mary Noble Ours

Today is the birthday of George Washington, so I thought I’d talk about… Alexander Reinagle. And in case this doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice to you, I’ll explain. 

Reinagle was a keyboard player and composer who was born in England in 1756 but who came to America in 1786, landing first in New York and then moving to Philadelphia. He was a close friend of C.P.E. Bach, and is said to have introduced Philadelphia to the music of Haydn and Mozart. And one of his greatest admirers, it turns out, was none other than George Washington. Washington once wrote that he could, “neither sing…nor raise a single note of any instrument,” but that “nothing,” and I quote, “is more agreeable and ornamental, than good music.” Washington apparently often listened to that good music at Alexander Reinagle’s concerts, and he thought so highly of Reinagle that he engaged him to teach music to his adopted granddaughter, Nelly Custis.

This has been A Minute with Miles – a production of South Carolina Public Radio, made possible by the J.M. Smith Corporation.