Born in London, the son of Thomas Barrett and a Welsh mother (Mary Lewis) from Dinas Mawddwy, at which place the family was brought up. The father was a skilled violin player. William Barrett was given violin lessons when he was quite young; he also learned to play the flute. He was apprenticed to a merchant in Old Change, S. Paul's, London.
He received further instruction on the flute from Rockstro and was appointed (1868) flautist to the Italian Opera, Lutz. For twelve years he played under the conductorship of Sir Michael Costa in the performances of the Sacred Harmonic Society. He was with the Carl Rosa Company for seven years and took part in performances by the Philharmonic Society and the ‘Bach Choir.’ He was chief flautist at the musical festivals of ‘The Three Choirs’ in Birmingham and Leeds and in concerts given by Herschell and Richter; and played before queen Victoria at Balmoral and at Windsor. He accompanied Madame Albani on a musical tour of Canada and the United States of America. In 1883 he became teacher of the flute in the Royal College of Music, a post which he held until 1910. He was considered the foremost flute player in the country. He died 10 January 1927 at the Savage Club, London, and was buried at Kensal Rise.
Published date: 1959
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