Early English Composers

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On this week’s An English Pastorale we’ll feature music by early English composers. Join us Sunday morning at 9.

Orlando Gibbons belongs to the generation of English composers which followed that of William Byrd, 40 years his senior, who died in 1623. He was a chorister at King’s College, Cambridge, where his elder brother was Master of the Choristers, and later became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal, which he served as an organist and to which he later added the position of organist at Westminster Abbey. He wrote music for the Church of England, madrigals, consort music and keyboard works.

William Boyce’s instrumental music includes a set of Eight Symphonies in eight parts, published in 1760, compositions that reflect the changing tastes of the time. His set of Twelve Trio Sonatas followed a fashion that had started with Corelli in the previous century and was now coming to an end.

In 1762, Johann Christian Bach traveled to London to première three operas at the King’s Theatre. That established his reputation in England, and he became music master to Queen Charlotte. By the late 1770s, his music was no longer popular and his fortunes declined. His steward had embezzled almost all his wealth and Bach died in considerable debt in London on New Year’s Day, 1782.

Carl Frederick Abel (picture) went to London in 1759, where he was appointed chamber musician to Queen Charlotte in 1764. When J.C. Bach arrived in London in 1762, they became friends and in 1765 established the “Bach and Abel” concerts that included the first public performances in England of Joseph Haydn’s symphonies. Abel and Bach also befriended the young Mozart when he visited London. One of Abel’s symphony was mistaken for an early Mozart work for many years.

Playlist:

Orlando Gibbons – Fantasia a 4 No. 1
Anonymous – Concerto Grosso in F minor
William Boyce – Concerto Grosso in B-flat Major
Johann Christian Bach – Piano Concerto in D Major, KOp. 1 No. 6
Carl Frederick Abel – Symphony No. 6 in E-flat Major

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