29th November 1705
24th July 1752
Michael Christian Festing was an English violinist and composer. His reputation lies mostly on his work as a violin virtuoso.
He first studied violin with Richard Jones and then later became a pupil of Francesco Geminiani. He made his professional debut on 6 March 1723 performing a concert at Hickford's Room, London. Not too long after that, Festing met a young Thomas Arne at the gallery of the Italian Opera to which Festing had access although Arne, still a boy, officially did not. Music historian Charles Burney wrote that Arne had crept into the gallery dressed as a liveryman to gain access to the fine collection of musical scores contained there. Upon befriending Festing, Arne became his pupil, studying violin for the first time and music composition. Festing, who was only four and a half years older, also broadened the young Arne's knowledge by taking him to numerous concerts, operas, and other performances. The teenagers were both present on 12 November 1725 to hear Thomas Roseingrave win the competition for the post of organist of St George's, Hanover Square. It is largely due to Festing's influence that Thomas's father allowed him to pursue a career in music instead of becoming a lawyer.
In the mid-1720s Festing began to compose music, mostly for the violin at the beginning but later works for orchestra, art songs, and a small amount of both sacred music and theatre music followed. The earliest mention of music composed by him is from a 1726 concert advertisement. That same year he helped found the Academy of Ancient Music, along with such composers as William Croft andGiovanni Bononcini, and participated in that group until he left over the Bononcini–Lotti affair in 1731. Festing remained active in concerts throughout London, notably replacing James Moore as a member of the King's Musick on 4 November 1726. His position at court led to the performance of three sets of his minuets for the birthdays of King George II and Queen Caroline, each "perform'd at the Ball at Court" in 1734 and 1735. Festing also performed several solo concerts in London, notably at the York Buildings, Villiers Street in 1729.