St Paul's Cathedral & the River Thames, Canaletto, c.1745

Baroque Music in London

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the third of the series, is on Baroque music in London.


St Paul's Cathedral & the River Thames, Canaletto, c.1745

St Paul’s Cathedral & the River Thames, Canaletto, c.1745

The best known composers in England during the Baroque Period are Henry Purcell, and Handel. London was a hive of musical activity during this period with music composed and performed for the church, court, and public performance. DHSBE will almost certainly be playing music by Handel, and Purcell on the tour.

Henry Purcell is the best know English composer in the 17thc. He worked primarily for the Royal Court, and also wrote incidental liturgical and instrumental music, and music for a number of plays. He composed the opera-like ‘masques’ King Arthur, and The Fairy Queen, and what is generally considered to be the first English opera – Dido & Aeneas, c.1686 (although his less well known contemporary, John Blow, had composed his opera – Venus & Adonis, in 1683.  In 1695, Queen Mary died of smallpox and Purcell composed the music for her funeral. A few months later Purcell died, and, at the request of his musical colleagues and with permission of the King, his music for Queen Mary was rather touchingly played at his own funeral.

Chorus from Dido & Aeneas:

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Incidental music for Aphra Behn’s play Abdelazer:

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Song – Here the Deities Approve – improvisation:

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John Blow – Venus & Adonis:

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Handel

The German-born composer George Frederick Handel settled in London in 1712 after a period of studying opera in Italy; subsequently becoming a naturalized British citizen, and living in London until his death in 1752. He is probably best known for his Oratorio Messiah, and the Coronation Anthem Zadok the Priest, composed for the coronation of King George II in 1727, and played at the coronation of every subsequent British monarch. He was an organist and harpsichordist, and prolific composer of instrumental, keyboard, and liturgical music, and over 40 operas.

Handel composed Messiah in 3 weeks in 1741, apparently fueled principally by coffee:
Messiah – Hallelujah Chorus (video of the first performance of the oratorio on period instruments since the 18th century):
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Zadok The Priest – British Coronation Anthem

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The term Concerto Grosso features extensively in 18th century music – it is a form of instrumental baroque music in which the musical material is passed between a small group of soloists (the concertino), and full orchestra (the ripiano or concerto grosso). This is in contrast to the solo concerto which features a single solo instrument with the melody line, accompanied by the orchestra.

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Handel’s principal musical rival in London was the Italian-born violinist and composer Francesco Geminiani. His treatise, Art of Playing on the Violin is a valuable source of information about baroque performance style. In 1715 Geminiani played his violin concerti for the court of George I, playing harpsichord. Geminiani made a living by teaching, writing music, and dealing in art.  Many of his students went on to have successful musical careers, such as Charles Avison.

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Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

Saint James's Church

London Concert Venue

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the second of the series, is on the concert venue the ensemble will play in London.


Saint James's Church

Saint James’s Church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and completed 1684

The first concert of the DHSBE 2020 tour will be in St James, Piccadilly, which has an acoustic well suited to the performance of baroque music.

The church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren (architect of St Paul’s Cathedral), was completed 1684. It is built of red brick (a style quite new in the late 17th century) with Portland stone dressings (a pale color stone much used for government buildings). Its interior has galleries on three sides supported by square pillars and the nave has a barrel vault supported by Corinthian columns. The carved marble font, and limewood reredos are both notable examples of the work of the Anglo-Dutch stone mason and woodcarver Grinling Gibbons (his work can also be seen in St Paul’s Cathedral, and in Trinity College, Cambridge, the venue for the second concert by Davis High school Baroque Ensemble).

 

 


Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

The 'London Eye' with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background

London Places of Interest

Over the coming months there will be four blog posts for each city on the Davis High School Baroque Ensemble’s 2020 England-France Tour tour: Place of Interest; Concert Venue; Music; History of the city. This week’s post, the first of the series, is on places of interest in London.


The 'London Eye' with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background

The ‘London Eye’ with Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in the background

London has a many important cultural sites including:

  • The Tower of London
  • St. Paul’s  Cathedral
  • Westminster Abbey
  • Palace of Westminster
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Trafalgar Square
  • National Gallery and adjacent National Portrait Gallery
  • Science Museum, and nearby Victoria & Albert Museum
  • The London Museum
  • Handel & Jimi Hendrix House Museum
  • ‘London Eye’
  • Covent Garden market
  • Boat trips on the Thames

Transportation in central London is easy by the ‘Tube’, and many sights are close enough to walk between them (e.g., St Paul’s, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, & Tate Modern; London Eye, Houses of Parliament, & Westminster Abbey). Oxford Street, Regent’s Street, Bond Street, & Covent Garden Market are popular areas for shopping. The historic sites – Hampton Court Palace, and Greenwich are further afield.

 

 


Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

louvre museum

2020 Tour Blog Introduction

louvre museumDavis Senior High School has the distinction of having a really excellent music program directed by Angelo Moreno. The Baroque Ensemble, founded by Mr Moreno, was the first in a public school in US, and even now there are very few public schools with a program focused on historically informed performance of baroque music, and only one other that uses period instruments.
The goal of the DHS Baroque Ensemble in 2019-2020 is to prepare to perform a repertoire of music from the baroque period in cities in England, Belgium, & France next summer, in addition to regular school and community performances using instruments of the type used during the baroque period. The European tour also provides an exciting opportunity for students & family to see major European cultural sites, to have the opportunity to speak ‘British’, French, and Flemish? Like the DHSBE tour in 2017, the tour next summer will be a formative experience, one to be cherished by students and families for years to come.
You can watch a performance of a Vivaldi concerto by the Davis Senior High School Baroque Ensemble on its 2017 Tour:

 

 


Will you help us make this amazing trip possible by making a contribution? We’ve made it easy to donate by going to https://dhs-holmes-orchestras.org/store/product-category/2020-baroque-tour-public-donations/

All donations are tax deductible. DHS/Holmes Orchestra Boosters 501(c)(3) tax identification#: 82-5177533

BEEP 24

Folías de España
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI0S-qUS5pw&list=PLpQR-EF8W5IcdEl94cJcDoQMPQ6zIzrTj

Less Well Known Baroque Stringed Instruments

The Evolution of the Violin Bow:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU48vc25vF0

17th century MEDICINE

In 17th-century Europe people were not aware that disease was spread by germs, and did not think of washing their hands before eating so diseases could spread quickly. People dreaded catching malaria, and cholera (both prevalent in parts of Europe in 17thc. and beyond), which they thought came from a poisonous gas called ‘miasma’ from sewers and cesspits. Doctors still believed the ideas of a Greek physician called Galen. He thought that the body was ruled by four humours, or fluids, which determined what your personality was and how you reacted to various diseases. The four humours were :

  • Blood/Sanguine – hot: fiery personality
  • Phlegm – cold: calm personality
  • Yellow bile – dry: bad-tempered personality
  • Black bile – moist: melancholy personality

In China, plants have been used for medicinal purposes for 4,500 years and some of these were brought to Europe. Many European plants, such as foxglove and marshmallow, were also used to treat illnesses. As well as these, doctors believed in the power of powders said to be made from strange ingredients such as horn from the mythical unicorn, and bezoar stone (made famous again in J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter books), which was claimed to be the tears of a stag turned to stone. Live worms, fox lungs (for asthma), spiders’ webs, swallows’ nests and the skulls of executed criminals were also highly sought-after ingredients.

Leeches are a type of slug-like worm, used for thousands of years to reduce blood pressure and cleanse the blood. A leech placed on the skin will consume four times its own weight in blood, and with the blood the toxins that produce diseases. While the leech is sucking it releases a chemical called hirudin, which prevents coagulation, or clotting of the blood. Fevers were thought to be the result of too much blood in the body: doctors deliberately cut veins or used leeches to release this ‘bad’ blood.

A Frenchman named Ambroise Pare discovered that the best way to treat a wound was not to put boiling oil on it, as had previously been the practice, but instead to apply a cold lotion made of egg yolk, oil of roses and turpentine. William Harvey published De Motu Cordis in 1628, determining the function of the heart & circulation of blood, using dissections and other experimental techniques – a great step forward in the understanding of working of the human body. New medications which became popular included tobacco, coffee, tea, and chocolate: all of them were first used as medicines!

In England, herbal treatment reached its peak of popularity with the publication of the Herbal by Nicholas Culpeper: The English Phystian, 1652. He described and illustrated many plants, and suggested medicinal uses for each plant. One such was the herb Wintergreen, which contains salicin, a natural form of the painkiller. Some advances in medicine came about through treating soldiers and sailors on the battlefield.

By the end of the 17th century, a more clinical and scientific approach to health, based on actual observation, gradually began to appear. This laid the foundations for the much greater medical progress in the 18thc. century and 19thc.

Wintergreen, The English Physitian, Culpeper:
“…Wintergreen is a singularly good wound herb, and an especial remedy for healing green wounds speedily; the green leaves being bruised and applied, or the juice of them. A salve made of the green herb stamped, or the juice boiled with hog’s lard, or with salad oil and wax, and some turpentine added to it, is a sovereign salve, and highly esteemed by the Germans who use it to heal all manner of wounds and sores. The herb boiled in wine and water, and given to drink to them that have any inward ulcers in their kidneys, or neck of the bladder, doth wonderfully help them. It stays all fluxes, and may take away any inflammation rising upon pains of the heart”.

Richard Webb