He was born at Shrewsbury, and educated at Shrewsbury.
Burney wrote some music for Thomson’s Alfred, which was produced at Drury Lane theatre on 30 March 1745. In 1749 he was appointed organist of St Dionis-Backchurch, Fenchurch Street, with a salary of £30 a year
Burney’s portrait was painted by Joshua Reynolds in 1781 for Henry Thrale’s library at Streatham Park.
His bust was cut by Nollekens in 1805. He also appears in James Barry’s The Thames (also known as Triumph of Navigation) that was painted in 1791 for the Society of the Arts and Manufactures.
He had a wide circle of acquaintance among the distinguished artists and literary men of his day. At one time he thought of writing a life of his friend Dr Samuel Johnson, but retired before the crowd of biographers who rushed into that field.
Portrait by Sir Joshua Reynolds
oil on canvas, 1781 © National Portrait Gallery, London