Baptized: Feb­ru­ary 16, 1709, New­cas­tle up­on Tyne, Eng­land.

Died: May 9 or 10, 1770, New­cas­tle up­on Tyne, Eng­land.

Buried: St. An­drew’s Church, New­gate Street, New­cas­tle up­on Tyne.


Avison is best known as a com­pos­er and writ­er about mu­sic. Lit­tle is known of his ear­ly life, but he did tra­vel to It­aly to stu­dy as a young man. Up­on re­turn to Eng­land he be­came a stu­dent of Ge­mi­ni­ani.

He be­came or­gan­ist at St. John’s Church in New­cas­tle in 1735, and at St. Ni­cho­las’ Church in 1736.

Two years lat­er, he be­gan di­rect­ing con­certs in New­cas­tle. He al­so gave les­sons in the harp­si­chord, vio­lin, and flute.

Music his­to­ri­ans re­mem­ber him for his 1752 Es­say on Mu­si­cal Ex­pres­sion, which has been des­cribed as the first work of English mu­sic cri­ti­cism.

Avison was of­fered (and de­clined) po­si­tions in York, Dub­lin, Ed­in­burgh, and Lon­don, spend­ing his en­tire life in New­cas­tle.