Composers

Listed in alphabetical order

John Banister

NPG D11669,John Banister,by and published by; after Robert Williams; Thomas Murray

John Banister (1630–3 October 1679) was the son of one of the waits (municipal musicians) of the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields, and that profession he at first followed. His father was his first instructor, and he arrived at such proficiency on the violin that Charles II became interested in him and sent him for further education to France. On his return, Charles appointed him to the post of leader of his own band, vacated by the death of Thomas Baltzar in 1663.

On 30 December 1672, he inaugurated a series of concerts at his own house, which are remarkable as being the first lucrative concerts given in London. One peculiarity of the arrangements was that the audience, on payment of one shilling, were entitled to demand what music they wished to be performed. These entertainments continued to be given by him, as we learn from advertisements in the London Gazette of the period, until within a short time of his death, which took place on 3 October 1679. He was buried in the cloisters of Westminster Abbey.

His most important composition is the music to the tragedy of Circe by Dr. C. Davenant, which was performed at the Duke of York’s Theatre in 1676. Manuscript copies of the first act are preserved in the library of the Royal College of Music, and in the Fitzwilliam Museum at Cambridge. In the same year he wrote music to The Tempest in conjunction with Pelham Humphrey.

Charlie Barber

Charlie Screen+shot+10

Charlie Barber has worked in a wide variety of musical genres: orchestral and chamber works, film, music-theatre and dance.

His music draws on a wide range of influences – including early music in Western culture, European minimalism, as well as the music of Southeast Asia, Africa and the Middle East – bringing these elements together in a highly personal synthesis.

His works have been performed at festivals in the USA, Hong Kong, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Holland and the Czech Republic, as well as major music festivals and venues across the UK.

Working across a number of different artforms has resulted in a rich series of collaborations with artists in other disciplines. Recent projects include Afrodisiac with Seckou Keita (kora) and Chartwell Dutiro (mbira); Salomé (music for percussion quartet featuring the 1923 film starring Nazimova); and Michelangelo Drawing Blood, a stage work for countertenor, performers and period instruments.

Thomas Linley

Thomas Linley, c. 1771 by Gainsborough

Thomas Linley was born in Bath on 7 May 1756, the son of a harpsichordist, composer and singing teacher. Thomas Linley senior played a prominent role in Bath’s musical life and introduced members of his prodigiously talented family to the public at an early age. Thomas junior was playing violin concertos at the age of seven and was an experienced composer before he went to Italy to study with Nardini (where he met Mozart, his exact contemporary). Thomas returned to England in 1771 and quickly became a leading figure in London’s musical life, helped by his father’s appointments as leader of the Drury Lane orchestra (1773) and musical director of the theatre (1774).

Linley was drowned in a boating accident at the age of 22, while staying at Grimsthorpe Castle in Lincolnshire. Linley’s early death was immediately recognised as a tragedy for English music. For his part, Mozart later told a fellow musician that “Linley was a true genius” who “had he lived, would have been one of the greatest ornaments of the musical world”.

Matthew Locke

Matthew Locke

Matthew Locke (ca. 1621 – August 1677) was born in Exeter and later trained in the choir of Exeter Cathedral, under Edward Gibbons, the brother of Orlando Gibbons. At the age of eighteen Locke travelled to the Netherlands, possibly converting to Roman Catholicismat the time.

Locke, with Christopher Gibbons (the son of Orlando), composed the score for Cupid and Death, the 1653 masque by Caroline-era playwright James Shirley. Their score for that work is the sole surviving score for a dramatic work from that era.[2] Locke was one of the quintet of composers who provided music for The Siege of Rhodes (1656), the breakthrough early opera by Sir William Davenant.[3] Locke wrote music for subsequent Davenant operas, The Cruelty of the Spaniards in Peru (1658) and The History of Sir Francis Drake (1659).[4] He wrote the music for the processional march for the coronation of Charles II.[5]

In 1673 Locke’s treatise on music theory, Melothesia, was published. The title page describes him as “Composer in Ordinary to His Majesty, and organist of her Majesty’s chapel”—those monarchs being Charles II and Catherine of Braganza. Locke also served King Charles as Composer of the Wind Music (“music for the King’s sackbutts and cornets”), and Composer for the Violins. (His successor in the latter office was Henry Purcell;[6] Locke was a family friend and may have had an influence on the young composer[7]). In 1675 he composed the music for the score of Thomas Shadwell’s Psyche.

Notes by Peter Dennison
Thomas Shadwell’s adaptation of The Tempest which opened at the Duke’s Theatre, Dorset Garden, about 30 April 1674, was the most sumptuously staged production that the Restoration had yet seen. It was an expansion of an adaptation of Shakespeare’s play made in 1667 by Dryden and Davenant, and was specifically designed to incorporate the elaborate spectacle, stage machinery and musical episodes that were becoming increasingly popular with Restoration audiences as the Court’s taste for French enetertainment spread. The music for the new production was lavish. Two elaborate masques were provided by Pelham Humfrey, he and Pietro Reggio each contributed a song, and four slight songs by the elder John Banister were retained from the production of 1667. The incidental instrumental music within the play was by G. B. Draghi and is not known to have survived, but Matthew Locke’s instrumental music that framed the acts testifies handsomely to the magnificence of the production.

The musical resources in the first season were also lavish. Singers, men and boys, were recruited from the Chapel Royal, and a rubric before the quarto text of the play stated that “the Band of 24 Violins, with the Harpsicals and Theorbo’s which accompany the Voices, are plac’d between the Pit and the Stage”. The band was the King’s but was probably the 24 in name rather than in actual number; by this time they were more likely to have numbered twelve.

Curtain Tune audio click here

Michael Nyman

Michael Nyman

Michael Nyman, CBE (born 23 March 1944) is an English composer of minimalist music, pianist, librettist and musicologist, known for numerous film scores (many written during his lengthy collaboration with the filmmaker Peter Greenaway), and his multi-platinum soundtrack album to Jane Campion’s The Piano. He has additionally written a number of operas, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Letters, Riddles and WritsNoises, Sounds & Sweet Airs, Facing Goya, Man and Boy: Dada, Love Counts, and Sparkie: Cage and Beyond, and he has written six concerti, fourstring quartets, and many other chamber works, many for his Michael Nyman Band, with and without whom he tours as a performing pianist.

Prospero’s Books (1991), written and directed by Peter Greenaway, is a cinematic adaptation of The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. John Gielgud is Prospero, the protagonist who provides the off-screen narration and the voices to the other story characters. Stylistically, Prospero’s Books is narratively and cinematically innovative in its techniques, combining mime, dance, opera, and animation. Edited in Japan, the film makes extensive (and pioneering) use of digital image manipulation (using Hi-Vision video inserts and the Paintbox system), often overlaying multiple moving and still pictures with animations. This was the last of the collaborations between director Peter Greenaway and composer Michael Nyman. Most of the film’s music cues, (excepting Ariel’s songs and the Masque) are from an earlier concert, La Traversée de Paris and the score from A Zed & Two Noughts.

Michael Nyman - Miranda

Henry Purcell

Henry Purcell 4

Henry Purcell ( c. 10 September 1659 – 21 November 1695), was an English composer. Although incorporating Italian and French stylistic elements into his compositions, Purcell’s legacy was a uniquely English form of Baroque music. He is generally considered to be one of the greatest English composers; no other native-born English composer approached his fame until Edward Elgar.

In 1692, he composed The Fairy-Queen (an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream), the score of which (his longest for theatre) was rediscovered in 1901 and published by the Purcell Society. The Indian Queen (adapted from a tragedy by Dryden and Sir Robert Howard) followed in 1695, in which year he also wrote songs for Dryden and Davenant’s version of Shakespeare’s The Tempest (recently, this has been disputed by music scholars).

Overture in G minor audio click here

From ‘Classical Archives’

Starting with Dioclesian in 1690, Purcell began to increase the significance and length of the musical sections of the plays to the point that they required as much time as the spoken portions. This prompted Purcell’s contemporary Roger North to call Purcell’s works “semi-operas.” Purcell’s incidental music for The Tempest was part of an already established tradition of reinventing Shakespeare’s plays for the musical stage. In 1667, poet John Dryden made modifications to The Tempest, adding characters and augmenting it with incidental music. Thomas Shadwell revised Dryden’s version in 1674, inserting two masques with musical contributions from several composers, most importantly, Matthew Locke. This seems to have been the preferred version until sometime in the 1690s, when it was supplanted by a new, Italianate setting, anonymous but ultimately attributed to Purcell.

In recent years, serious doubt about Purcell’s authorship of the music for The Tempest have arisen. Much of the string writing resembles that of Arcangelo Corelli more than anything else Purcell composed. The complete da capo arias in the Italian style are unlike those composed by Purcell at the end of his life. Scholars agree, however, that the song, “Dear pretty youth,” is indeed by Purcell. It is thought that most of the music was composed by Purcell’s student, John Weldon, in or around 1712. There are similarities between some of the music in The Tempest and other examples of Weldon’s music for the stage; however, some find The Tempest to be of far greater quality than anything else Weldon composed. It may never be known for certain who wrote most of The Tempest.

The vocal sections of Purcell’s semi-operas were often cast as self-contained “scenes,” enabling coherent performance outside the theater. The overture to The Tempest is a contrapuntal delight, with fugal entries featuring an inverted version of the subject. The incidental music begins with the masque of devils in the second act, containing the most famous number of the piece, the da capo aria, “Arise, ye subterranean winds,” with the word “Arise” set to upward leaps. Italian influence is clear in the appearance of an instrumental interlude after the first line of text. Also, melismas are on accented syllables and set to long vowels. This Purcell also learned from Italian practice. The dance following “Arise, ye subterranean winds” is from the Prologue of Lully’s Cadmus et Hermione. Four more songs appear in Act III and two dances and the song, “Dear pretty youth” take place in Act IV. Among these, “Æolus, you must appear,” is notable for its instrumental symphony and “Halcyon days” is an excellent da capo aria featuring a solo oboe. In Ariel’s “Dry those eyes,” Purcell avoids the potential monotony of the ground bass by introducing the instruments at different points in the aria. It should be: In “Full Fathom Five,” we hear an imitation of bell sounds in both the continuo and chorus. It is not certain where the two dances, “The Devil’s Grand Dance” and “The Sailor’s Dance,” belong in the second act.

John Christopher Smith

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John Christopher Smith (born Johann Christoph Schmidt; 1712, Ansbach – 1795, London) was an English composer who, following in his father’s footsteps, became George Frideric Handel’s secretary and amanuensis.

John Christopher Smith, Jr. had a few lessons from Handel and Johann Christoph Pepusch but studied mostly with Thomas Roseingrave. He later became Handel’s secretary, musical assistant and amanuensis, when blindness prevented Handel from writing or conducting in his later years. The last year where Handel conducted performances of his oratorios was 1752. Handel bequeathed to Smith the keyboard instruments in his house at 25 Brook Street and his manuscripts.

Later operas included three written by David Garrick and based on Shakespeare – The Fairies (3 February 1755 at the Drury Lane, London), after A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and The Tempest (11 February 1756, Drury Lane, London) – and a successful afterpiece, The Enchanter (13 December 1760, Drury Lane, London). His successful collaboration with Benjamin Stillingfleet produced his last opera Medea in 1763.

John Weldon

John Weldon

John Weldon (19 January 1676 – 7 May 1736) was born in Chichester in the south of England, he was educated at Eton, where he was a chorister, and later received musical instruction from Henry Purcell. By 1694 Weldon had been appointed organist of New College in Oxford and became well known in the musical life of that city, writing music for masques as well as performing his organist duties.

Weldon moved to London and in 1701 took part in a competition to set Congreve’s libretto The Judgement of Paris to music. Perhaps surprisingly, Weldon’s setting was chosen over contributions by his older, more experienced and better-known competitors, Daniel Purcell (younger brother of Henry), John Eccles and Godfrey Finger. Even more curiously, Purcell’s and Eccles’s scores were later published by John Walsh. Weldon’s however was not and remains in manuscript, though the lack of recognition of his relatively new name may also have played a part. There is some evidence to suggest that the judges of the competition were not entirely impartial, however it has also been suggested that Weldon’s setting was considered less old fashioned than his somewhat older contemporaries. In the same year as the competition, Weldon was made a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal.

Having established his reputation in London, Weldon continued for some years to write music for the theatre. Music for The Tempest, until the mid-1960s believed to have been composed by Henry Purcell, was in all probability written by Weldon for the Drury Lane Theatre, in 1712. Weldon’s musical style owes much to Purcell’s influence but is more Italianate and also embraces the ‘modern’ French styles and forms that were becoming increasingly popular at the time.

John Weldon - Dance of the Winds 1

John Weldon devoted the latter part of his life almost exclusively to the duties of the Chapel Royal and to writing church music. He succeeded John Blow (1649-1708) as Chapel Royal organist, and in 1715 was made second composer under William Croft (1678-1727). He wrote six anthems for the tenor Richard Elford. From 1714, Weldon also held the post of organist at two London Churches, St Bride’s, Fleet Street and St Martin-in-the-Fields. He died on 7 May 1736 and is buried in St. Paul’s Church, Covent Garden, London.

John Weldon’s grandson Samuel Thomas Champnes would follow in his musical footsteps and become one of Handel’s soloists. Many of their descendants were involved in the church and took the Weldon surname as their second name, often writing the music for hymns in the Ancient and Modern song book.

Painting 3a

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