This was the title of a presentation by Ruth Barlow which included a range of music popular in that century. London at that time was a rapidly growing city and the largest in Europe. The country was becoming prosperous as a result of the growing empire and people were looking for entertainment which would of course have included music.
Music was also coming out of the great houses and into the public sphere with an ever-increasing number of public concerts. Indeed, it was noted that if you wanted to learn about music you went to Paris or Italy, if you wanted to earn a living, you came to England.
The evening started with a performance of Corelli’s Concerto Grosso No 8 (excerpts) and ended with the last movement of Haydn’s Symphony No 4 nicknamed the ‘London’. This framing so to speak seemed to sum the century up with Corelli’s piece echoing the previous century and Haydn’s symphony, written in 1795, which ended it and gave hints of what was to come.
In between, we heard pieces by Handel, JC Bach, Thomas Arne, and William Boyce. We also heard part of the Beggar’s Opera, hugely popular in its day receiving 62 performances in its first season, on a recording directed by Ruth’s husband Jeremy which must be a first for the Society.
Music from men only ‘catch clubs’ was also performed. Today we would call them rounds but they are centuries old and involve singers coming in one by one singing the same melody. We heard examples by Henry Purcell and JS Smith sung by the Hilliard ensemble.
A sad moment was a Violin Sonata in A major by Thomas Linley, and English prodigy born in Bath who was certainly destined for great things. He was a friend of Mozart and they met and became friends in Italy. Unfortunately, he died at the tender age of 22 thus ending what was likely to have been a successful career.
Altogether a well put together programme and an interesting evening.