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RISE and PROGRESS of the FIRST COMMEMORATION of
[From Dr. Burney's Account of the Musical Performances in West
miniter Abbey, and the Pantheon, in May and June, 1784.]
nerated, cherished, and rally occurred to three fuch en-
was next submitted to the directors 66 In a conversation between lord of the concert of Ancient Music, viscount Fitzwilliam, fir Watkin who, with an alacrity which does Williams Wynn, and Joah Bates, honour to their zeal for the mecfq. commissioner of the victual mory of the great artist Handel, ling-office, the beginning of last voluntarily undertcok the trouble year, 1783, at the house of the of managing and directing the ceJaiter, after remarking that the lebrity. At length, the design number of eminent musical per- coming to the knowledge of the formers of all kinds, both vocal king, it was honoured with his maand instrumental, with which Lon- jesty's fanction and patronage. Westdon abounded, was far greater than minster Abbey, where the bones of in any other city of Europe, it was the great musician were deposited, lamented that there was no public was thought the properest place for periodical occafion for collecting the performance; and application and consolidating them into one having been made to the bishop of band; by which means a perform, Rochester for the use of it, his ance might be exhibited on to grand lordship, finding that the scheme and magnificent a scale as no other was honoured with the patronage part of the world could equal. The of his majesty, readily confented;
only only requesting, as the performance to apply to that incident. But, in would interfere with the annual consequence of the sudden diffolubenefit for the Westminster Intir. tion of parliament, it was thought mary,
that part of the profits might proper to defer the festival to the be appropriated to that charity, as 26th, 27th, and 29th of May, which an indemnification for the loss it seems to have been for its advan. would sustain. To this the pro- tage: as many persons of tender jectors of the plan acceded; and it constitutions, who ventured to go was afterwards settled, that the pro. to Westminster Abbey in warm wea. fits of the first day's performance ther, would not have had the cou. should be equally divided between rage to go thither in cold. the Musical Fund and the West- “ Impressed with a reverence for minfter Infirmary; and those of the memory of Handel, no sooner the subsequent days be solely ap- was the project known, but mott plied to the use of that fund which of the practical musicians in the Handel himself so long helped to kingdom eagerly manifested their sustain, and to which he not only zeal for the enterprise ; and many bequeathed a thousand pounds, but of the most eminent professors, wave which almost every musician in the ing all claims to precedence in the capital annually contributes his mo- band, offered to perform in any subney, his perforinance, or both, to ordinate station, in which their tafupport.
lents could be most useful. “ Application was next made to " In order to render the band as Mr. James Wyatt, the architect, to powerful and complete as poffible, furnish plans for the necessary de- it was determined to employ every corations of the abbey ; drawings species of instrument that was caof which having been shewn to his pable of producing grand effects in majesty, were approved. The ge- a great orchestra and fpacious buildneral idea was to produce the effect ing. Among these the facbut, or of a royal musical chapel, with the double trumpet, was sought; but orchestra terminating one end, and so many years had elapsed fince it the accommodation for the royal had been used in this kingdom, that family, the other.
neither the instrument, nor a per" The arrangement of the per- former upon it, could easily be formance of each day was next fet. found. It was, however, discovertled, and I have authority to fiy, ed, after much useless enquiry, not that it was at his majeity's instiga, only here, but by letter, on the tion that the celebriiy was estand- continent, that in his majesty's mied to three days instead i two, litary band there were fix musicians which he thought wounc rhot be suf- who played the three several spe. ficient for the display of Handel's cies of lacbut; tenor, base, and powers, or fuifilling the charitable double base. The names of these purposes to which it was intended performers will be found in the geto devote the profits. It was ori• neral list of the band. ginally intended to have celebrated “ The double bassoon, which was this grand musical festival on the so conspicuous in the orchestra, and 20th, 22d, and 2 3d of April; and powerful in its effect, is likewife a the 20th being the day of the fu- tube of fixteen feet. It was made, Deral of Handel, part of the music with the approbation of Mr. Hanwas, in some meafure, so selected as del, by Staintby, the Aute-maker,
for the coronation of his late ma- communication with the harpfijesty, George the Second. The chord, at which Mr. Bates, the late ingenious Mr. Lampe, author conductor, was feated, extended of the justly admired music of The nineteen feet from the body of the Dragon of Wantley, was the per organ, and twenty feet seven inches son intended to perform on it ; but, below the perpendicular of the sec for want of a proper reed, or for of keys by which it is usually playsome other cause, at present un- ed. Similar keys were first conknown, no use was made of it at trived in this country, for Handel that time; nor indeed, though it himself, at his oratorios ; but to has been often attempted, was it convey them to so great a distance ever introduced into any band in from the instrument, without renEngland till now, by the ingenuity dering the touch impracticably and perseverance of Mr. Athly, of heavy, required uncommon ingethe Guards,
nuity and mechanical resources. " The double-base kettle-drums “ In celebrating the disposition, were made from models of Mr. discipline, and effects of this most Athbridge, of Drury-lane orchestra, numerous and excellent band, the in copper, it being impossible to merit of the admirable architect, procure plates of brass large who furnished the elegant designs enough. The tower-drums, which, for the orchestra and galleries, must by permisfion of his grace the duke not be forgotten; as, when filled, of Richmond, were brought to the they constituted one of the grandest abbey on this occasion, are those and most magnificent spectacles which belong to the ordnance stores, which imagination can delineate. and were taken by the duke of I am acquainted with few build. Marlborough at the battle of Mal- ings, that have been constructed plaquet, in 1709. These are he- from plans of Mr. Wyatt, in which mispherical, or a circle divided; he exercised his genius in Gothic; but those of Mr. Ambridge are but all the preparations for receive more cylindrical, being much long- ing their inajefties, and the first er, as well as more capacious, than personages in the kingdom, at the the common kettle-drum; by which east end ; upwards of five hundred he accounts for the superiority of musicians at the west; and the pubtheir tone to that of all other drums. lic in general, to the number of These three species of kettle-drums, between three and four thousand which may be called tenor, base, persons, in the area and galleries, and double-base, were an octave to wonderfully corresponded with below each other.
the style of architecture of this ve“ The excellent organ, erected nerable and beautiful structure, at the west end of the abbey, for that there was nothing visible, either the commemoration performances for use or ornament, which did not only, is the workmanship of the harmonize with the principal tone ingenious Mr. Samuel Green, of of the building, and which may Islington. It was fabricated for the not metaphorically have been said cathedral of Canterbury ; but be- to be in perfect tune with it. But, fore its departure for the place of besides the wonderful manner in its destination, it was permitted to which this construction exhibited be opened in the capital on this me- the band to the spectators, the ormorable occasion. The keys of chestra was so judiciously contrived,
that almost every performer, both jesties likewise condescended to wear
6. The orchestra was built at the
morine. " At the east end of the aisle, 6. At the top of the orchestra just before the back of the choir- was placed the occasional organ, organ, some of the pipes of which in a Gothic frame, mounting to, were visible below, a throne was and mingling with, the faints and erected in a beautiful Gothic style, martyrs represented in the painted corresponding with that of the ab. glass on the west window. On each bey, and a center box, richly de- lide of the organ, close to the wincorated and furnifhed with crimson dow, were placed the kettle-drums farin, fringed with gold, for the described above. The choral bands reception of their maiesties and the were principally placed in view of royal family : on the right hand of Mr. Bates, on Iteps, seemingly which was a box for the bishops, ascending into the clouds, in each and, on the left, one for the dean of the fide aisles, as their termi. and chapter of Westminster; im- nation was invisible to the audience. mediately below these two boxes The principal fingers were ranged were two others; one, on the right, in the front of the orchestra, as at for the families and friends of the oratorios, accompanied by the choirs directors, and the other for those of St. Paul, the abbey, Windfor, of the prebendaries of Westmin- and the chapel loyal. fter. Imme 'iately below the king's “ The design of appointing subbox was placed one for the direc. directors, was to diminish, as much tors themselves, who were all di- as possible, the trouble of the no. ftinguished by white wands tipped blemen and gentlemen who had with gold, and gold medals, ftruck projected the undertaking, as well on the occafion, appending from as that of the conductor : and this white ribbands, There their ma- was çffected with great diligence
and zeal, not only in superintend- missing, or miflaid, nor was an ining the bufiness at the doors of ad- strument wanting during the whole million, and conducting the com- commemoration : as the porters pany to their seats, which fell to
had strict orders to convey all the the share of Dr. Cook, Dr. Ayr- instruments into the orchestra, at ton, and messieurs Jones, Aylward, the abbey, by feven o'clock in the and Parsons, all professors of the morning of each day, to prevent firit class; but in arranging the per- the company from being incomformers, and conveying lignals to moded by the admission of such as the several parts of that wide-ex- were unwieldy. tended orchestra: departments which “ Few circumstances will perfell to the lot of Dr. Arnold and haps more astonish veteran musiMr. Dupuis, organists and com- cians, than to be informed, that posers to his majelty, and Mr. Red- there was but one general rehearsal mond Simpson, eminent and re- for each day's performance: an inspectable profeffo:s, of great expe- disputable proof of the high ttate rience, who may be said to have of cultivation to which practical acted as adjutant-generals on the music is at present arrived in this occasion ; Dr. Arnold and Mr. Du- country; for, if good performers puis having been placed on different had not been found, ready made, sides of the orcheitra, over the vocal a dozen rehearsals would not have choir, and Mr. Simpson, in the cen- been sufficient to make them fo. terover the subordinate instrumental Indeed, Mr. Bates, in examining performers. In selecting these de- the list of performers, and enquirlegates among the niembers of the ing into their several merits, luge Musical Society, great care was gested the idea of what he called a taken not to enfeeble the orchestra, drilling rehearsal, at Tottenhamby employing such performers as ftreet Concert Room, a week before were likely to augment its force; the performance ; in order to hear but such as had either ceased to such volunteers, particularly chos play in public, or whose intru- rus singers, as were but little known ments being the organ and harpsi- to himself, or of whose abilities his chord, of which only one was alfitant was unable to speak with wanted, accepted of parts which certainty. At this rehearsal, though were not the less useful for being it confilted of a hundred and twen. filently performed.
ty performers, not more than two " Of the care and intelligence of that number were desired to atwith which preparations were tend no more. made for these performances, fome « At the general rehearsal in judgment may be formed from the the abbey, mentioned above, more fingle circumstance of the music than five hundred persons found books that were provided for each means to obtain admilsior, in spite day: as two hundred and seventy- of every endeavour to fhut out all four were requisite for the first per- but the performers ; for fear of informance, in the abbey ; a hun- terruption, and perhaps of failure dred and thirty-eight for the Pan. in the first attempts at incorporating theon; and two hundred and sixty- and consolidating such a numerous seven for the Melliah ; amounting, band: consisting not only of all in all, to seven hundred and seven- the regulars, both native and fo. ty-nine; not one of which was reign, which the capital could fure 5