Penn Library Department of Special Collections

William Penn

Keffer Collection of Sheet Music,
ca. 1790-1895

Content and design by John Bewley

Collection History
Guide Statistics
Focus on Philadelphia
Composers Publishers Lithographers Imagesand Music
List of Topics
Related Resources

Philadelphia Composers: Thomas à Becket (1843-1918)

Photographic portrait of Thomas à Becket
Thomas à Becket Jr.

Thomas à Becket, Jr., organist, pianist, composer, and critic, was born in Philadelphia on July 19, 1843. He studied music with his father, Thomas à Becket, Sr. (ca. 1817-ca. 1871), a popular composer and actor in Philadelphia. The younger Becket made his first public appearance as a pianist on a program with his father at the Walnut Street Theatre in 1855. Becket Jr. developed his skills as an accompanist to such a degree that his services were in constant demand. Visiting artists, such as the violinist Ole Bull, requested Becket as their accompanist for performances in Philadelphia. He also served as accompanist for local organizations, including the Orpheus Club from 1877 to 1898.

Becket also played an important role as an educator in the city. He was on the faculty at Girard College for forty-five years, beginning in 1873. In 1877 Becket served as a member of a committee assembled to assess methods of music education in Philadelphia public schools. As the organist at Girard College, Becket was among those who performed at the inaugural concert of the college's Jardine organ in 1878. After a short illness, Thomas à Becket died on August 17, 1918.

Works by Becket in the Collection

Item No.TitleImprintPlate No.Illustration
Box 20
no. 18
The Farmer Feeds us All : Song and Chorus / words and music by Knowles Shaw ; arranged by Thos. A'Becket, Jr. Boston: Thompson & Odell, 1874 45-2 Animals in a barnyard


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