Monday, July 2, 2012

Music of 18th century England

The 18th Century is justly famous for its music -- J. S. Bach, Antonio Vivaldi, F. J. Haydn, and W. A. Mozart all made their contributions.

The music of England during this period is also quite good, in this writer's opinion, but, aside from the German transplant G. F. Handel, is little known.

File:George II by Thomas Hudson.jpg
King George II of Great Britain and Hanover (reigned 1727-1760) by Thomas Hudson (+1779).  Namesake of Georgia.

Let us begin with the best known: George Frideric Handel (+1759AD), born in what is modern Germany, he became a kapellmeister to George, Elector of Hanover, in 1710, and followed his employer to England when he became King of Great Britain in 1714.  The following Concerto Grosso gives you a taste of his style with what is, perhaps, a less familiar piece of music.  This is a section from his Concerto Grosso, Op. 6, N. 12 in B minor:

Next, William Boyce (+1779), was London-born, and became "Master of the King's Music" in 1755.  He was tremendously important in his own day, but little known today.  If the gentle reader listens to his work, one has to wonder why he is not better known.  This is from his Symphony No. 5 in D major:

Sir William Herschel (+1822) is another transplant from Germany, who actually ended up far more famous for his discovery of the planet Uranus (which he wished to name the "Georgian Star" after his king) in 1781, than for his music.  Music was his profession, astronomy his hobby.  The first discovery of a new planet since the dawn of mankind, however, allowed him to go professional in his astronomical hobby and leave music behind.  A shame, I think, if you listen to what he composed!  This magnificent movement is from his Symphony No. 8 -- very minor key.

Thomas Shaw (+1830) was a Bath-born composer who was known for his ability with strings.  Enjoy!  This is from his Violin Concerto in D:

Live well!

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