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.
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:
Purcell Dido & Aeneas: To the Hills & the Vales | Triumphing Dance SFGC & Voices of MusicFrom Henry Purcell's opera Dido & Aeneas, the chorus "To the hills and the Vales" and the Triumphing Dance, performed by the San Francisco Girls Chorus and the Early Music ensemble Voices of Music. Live, 4K video from our performance at the Berkeley Early Music Festival 2018. This concert won the San Francisco Classical Voice "Best of the Bay" award in *three* categories: Best opera performance, best choral performance and best Early Music performance.
Complete performance here: https://youtu.be/hb1_GaI-1yI
Triumphing Dance 1:11
The San Francisco Girls Chorus directed by Valérie Sainte-Agathe; Voices of Music directed by Hanneke van Proosdij and David Tayler. Visit us on the web!
Incidental music for Aphra Behn’s play Abdelazer:
Henry Purcell: Rondeau from Abdelazer (Z570), Voices of Music; original instruments 4K UHDPlease subscribe to our channel https://www.youtube.com/VoicesofMusic/?sub_confirmation=1
The Rondeau from the incidental music (Z570) that Henry Purcell composed for the play Abdelazer, or the Moor's Revenge.
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Q. What is Early Music performance, or historical performance?
A. We play on instruments from the time of the composers, and we use the original music and playing techniques: it’s a special sound.
Q. Why are there no conductors?
A. Conductors weren’t invented until the 19th century; since we seek to recreate a historical performance, the music is led from the keyboard or violin, or the music is played as chamber music~or both 🙂
Q. What are period instruments or original instruments; how are they different from modern instruments?
A. As instruments became modernized in the 19th century, builders and players tended to focus on the volume of sound and the stability of tuning. Modern steel strings replaced the older materials, and instruments were often machine made. Historical instruments, built individually by hand and with overall lighter construction, have extremely complex overtones—which we find delightful. Modern instruments are of course perfectly suited to more modern music.
Q. Why is the pitch lower, or higher?
A. Early Music performance uses many different pitches, and these pitches create different tone colors on the instruments. See https://goo.gl/pVBNAC
HD Video from the Voices of Music Brandenburg Concerto project, 2013.
One of Purcell’s last works, the play was staged in 1695, the year of Purcell's death, and the text of the play was written Aphra Behn. The Rondeau’s place in history was assured when the composer Benjamin Britten chose it for his Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra: Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell (1946). After Purcell's death, his wife Frances gathered much of his unpublished works, and these were printed as “A collection of ayres, compos'd for the theatre and upon other occasions .”
Song – Here the Deities Approve – improvisation:
Philippe Jaroussky "Here the deities approve" (L'Arpeggiata)
Here the deities approve z339/3
from Welcome to all the pleasures (Ode for St Cecilia's Day, 1683)
Words by Christopher Fishburn
Arr. Christina Pluhar
Philippe Jaroussky, Wolfgang Muthspiel,
Doron Sherwin, Veronika Skuplik, Eero Palviainen,
Sarah Ridy, Haru Kitamika, Francesco Turrisi,
David Mayoral, Sergey Saprichev, Boris Schmidt,
Here the deities approve,
the God of Music and of Love;
all the talents they have lent you,
all the blessings they have sent you,
pleased to see what they bestow
live and thrive so well below.
Ici les divinités approuvent
le dieu de la musique et de l'amour ;
elles vous ont prêté tous les talents,
elles vous ont envoyé tous les bienfaits,
heureuses de voir que ce qu'elles dispensent
vit et prospère si bien ici-bas.
Hier bestätigen die Götter,
der Gott der Musik und der Gott der Liebe:
Alle Talente, die sie euch gaben,
alle Segnungen, die sie euch schickten,
gedeihen so prächtig dort unten.
Sie sehen mit Freude, was sie gewähren!
John Blow – Venus & Adonis:
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.
Zadok The Priest – British Coronation Anthem
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.
Handel: Concerto grosso In B Flat, Op.3, No.2 HWV 313 - 2. LargoProvided to YouTube by Universal Music Group
Handel: Concerto grosso In B Flat, Op.3, No.2 HWV 313 - 2. Largo · The English Concert · Trevor Pinnock
Handel: 6 Concerti Grossi Op.3
℗ 1984 Deutsche Grammophon GmbH, Berlin
Released on: 1984-01-01
Producer: Dr. Gerd Ploebsch
Studio Personnel, Balance Engineer: Hans-Peter Schweigmann
Producer: Klaus Behrens
Composer: George Frideric Handel
Auto-generated by YouTube.
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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