18thc. Music in England - 2



Vauxhall Gardens, one of several pleasure gardens in London, was open to the public as a commercial venue that hosted an array of entertainment including organ concertos by Handel, other orchestral works, and a vast array popular songs and ballads. Handel Organ Concerto 'Cuckoo & the Nightingale': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DJ-3cakmglM

St. Paul's Cathedral and a Royal Barge on the River Thames, London, Canaletto, c.1750 The Water Music was composed by Handel in response to King George I's request for a concert on the River Thames, and only wind instruments were used. Details of the first performance were recorded in The Daily Courant, the first British daily newspaper: "On 17 July 1717, King George I, and several aristocrats, boarded a royal barge at Whitehall for an excursion up the Thames toward Chelsea. The rising tide propelled the barge upstream without rowing. Another barge contained about 50 musicians who performed Handel's music. Many other Londoners also took to the river to hear the concert...The king was so pleased with the Water Music that he ordered it to be repeated at least three times". https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=664QhBOhBgc


London, c.1750, Canaletto. Other 18thc. composers working in London: Francesco Geminiani, Italian violinist, composer, and art dealer, lived in London for much of his professional life, and some thought him Handel's equal, although Geminiani's range of compositions was much more limited. His best-known compositions are three sets of Concerti Grossi. In 1715, he played his violin concerti for the court of King George I, with Handel playing harpsichord. Concerto Grosso - La Follia https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHeQcbBJngo Cello Sonata, Op 5. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBiMn6n-emA William Croft, 'Ground' in C minor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHPxERX2gII William Boyce The first movement of Boyce's Symphony No. 1 in B-flat was the first piece of music played during the procession of the bride and bridegroom at the conclusion of the wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle in 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCmzK3Q7uLY Jeremiah Clarke, 'Prince of Denmark's March' - Trumpets, Timpani, and continuo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkogtWx0Pes

Although they never met, Handel and Bach did share the same unfortunate experience as their eyesight started to fail. Enter the English 'quack' doctor Chevalier John Taylor, a self-styled eye surgeon who practiced all over Europe in the mid 18thc.; although it became evident that his major talent was that of self-promotion rather than surgical skill. In 1750, Taylor operated on J S Bach twice - both operations were failures. In 1751, one of Handel's eyes started to fail as a result of a cataract, and he too was operated on by Taylor. Taylor's technique was to poke about in the eye to break up the cataract. This did not improve Handel's eyesight, and likely made it worse; Handel was completely blind by 1752. John Taylor's career went downhill sharply by the time he published his autobiography in 1761, and he died in well deserved obscurity in 1770 after spending the last years of his life (ironically) blind.


Next Week -

17thc. & 18thc. Music in 'Nueva España', and 'Brasil Colonial'