Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Dibdin: Georgian-Regency Renaissance Man

Charles Dibdin (c.1745-1814)

Dibdin flourished in London during the Georgian years and early Regency as something of an artistic Renaissance man. Poet, actor, songwriter, singer, he wrote around 1,400 songs and 30 theater pieces, including operas, and allegedly created the form of the one-man show.

The Shepherd's Artifice
Songs for the plays Love in the City and Love in a Village, by Isaac Bickerstaffe

Music for the play The Padlock

The Waterman

The Quaker
The Comic Mirror

Liberty Hall

Late 1780s-Early 1800s
Popular songs, often of a patriotic nature:
Poor Jack
'Twas on the Good Ship "Rover"
Saturday Night at Sea
Tom Bowling

Monday, May 21, 2007

Music in Jane Austen's Works

After playing some Italian songs, Miss Bingley varied the charm by a lively Scotch air...
--Chapter 10, Pride & Prejudice (1813)

Friday, May 18, 2007

Storace: The King of Drury Lane

Stephen Storace (1762-1796)

In terms of commercial success, Storace, whose works were produced at the Theatre Royal in Drury Lane, was the Andrew Lloyd Webber of his day, meeting popular tastes largely with ballad operas that featured visual spectacle, bold vocal turns and trendy, exotic themes. Most of his works survive only as reductions for voice and piano. Many were never printed in full score, largely from the fear of piracy, there being no copyright laws to protect artists' rights. Dido Queen of Carthage, a serious opera, was the rare Storace work rejected by the public. According to some sources, lack of demand rendered it unworthy of printing.

Despite "Dido," Storace was hugely popular well into the 19th century. "Of plighted faith," an air from his opera The Siege of Belgrade, may be heard on the recording Jane Austen's Songbook.

Selections from The Haunted Tower, which was modified after the original French text by the Marquis de Sade, may be heard at Romantic Era Songs, a Website by Paul Douglass of San Jose State University in California. The URL is www.sjsu.edu/faculty/douglass/music

The Haunted Tower

No Song, No Supper (One-act)

The Siege of Belgrade

The Music of the Pirates

The Cherokee


The Three and the Deuce
Dido, Queen of Carthage

The Iron Chest
Mahmoud, Prince of Persia

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Field: Irish Regency Romantic

John Field (1782-1837)

Dublin-born Field, a concert pianist and composer popularly called "the Irish Romantic," lived in Russia between 1801 and 1830. He reputedly developed the nocturne, a short musical form that usually showcases one particular mood. The first three of the nocturnes were published in 1812. The remaining appeared at various times throughout his career.

Field also wrote six piano concertos.

Piano Concerto No. 2 in A flat
Piano Concerto No. 3 in E flat

Piano Concerto No. 4 in E flat (revised in 1819)

Piano Concerto No. 5 in C

Piano Concerto No. 6 in C

Nightingale Sounds

It may not be music as such, but one of the most famous birdsongs was the subject of a poem written by John Keats in May 1819.

If you've ever read Ode to a Nightingale and wondered what the bird sounds like, click on Nightingale Sounds in the Links column. You'll be taken to a site that will offer a collection of nightingale vocalizations to choose from. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Regency Rossini, 1812-1820

Gioacchino Rossini (1792-1868)

Rossini, whose career is as fabled as his sense of humor, composed some of his greatest operas by 1820, before he was 30 years old. Here are the most significant hits. I believe all have been recorded.

La Scala di Seta (“The Silken Ladder”)

Il Signor Bruschino
L'Italiana in Algeri (“The Italian Girl in Algiers”)

Il Turco in Italia (‘The Turk in Italy”)

Elisabetta, Regina d'Inghilterra (“Elizabeth, Queen of England”)

Il Barbiere di Siviglia (“The Barber of Seville”)

La Cenerentola (“Cinderella”)
La Gazza Ladra (“The Thieving Magpie”)

Mosè in Egitto (“Moses in Egypt”)

La Donna del Lago (“The Lady of the Lake”)

Mozart: Always In Style

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)

Before the hard facts, a teeny bit of history: If the practice of Mozart’s infancy and early childhood had persisted, the play would have been called “Gottlieb” or “Theophilus,” not “Amadeus.”

Mozart’s father Leopold was the chapel master (Kapellmeister) for the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Salzburg, and, as seen in baptismal records at St. Rupert’s Cathedral in Salzburg, the name he gave baby Wolfie reflected what Austrian society considered the father’s exalted position in what was then part of the Holy Roman Empire: Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgang Theophilus. Papa Leopold subsequently substituted “Gottlieb” for “Theophilus.” In those days in that particular society, it didn’t matter because both names mean the same thing: “Theophilus” has been interpreted as “God's love” and "beloved of God" in Greek; “Gottlieb” is its rough equivalent in German. Mozart preferred the more musical-sounding Latin version: “Amadeus.”

The present list, which will be amended, focuses on major works and is by no means definitive:

Concerto for Violin in A major, K. 219 (“Turkish”)

Serenade in D Major, K. 250 (“Haffner”)
Serenata Notturna in D, K. 239 (recalls Boccherini’s serenade, “Night Music of Madrid”)

Concerto for Flute and Harp in C Major, K. 299
Les petits riens ("The Little Nothings"), Ballet

Idomeneo, re di creta ("Idomeneo, King of Crete"), Opera K. 366

12 Variations in C Major on "Ah vous dirai-je, maman," K. 265

Mass in C Minor, K. 427

Concerto in E-Flat Major for Piano, K. 482
Fantasia for Piano in c minor, K. 475
Song, Das Veilchen (“The Violet”), K. 476

Concerto in c minor for Piano, K. 491
Der Schauspieldirektor (“The Impressario”), Opera, K. 486
Le Nozze di Figaro (“The Marriage of Figaro”), Opera, K. 492
Symphony in D Major, No. 38 (“Prague), K. 504

Don Giovanni, Opera, K. 527

Arrangement, Handel’s Messiah, K. 572

Cosi fan tutte (sometimes translated as "Women Are Like That"), Opera, K. 588

Ave Verum Corpus, Motet in D Major, K. 618
Die Zauberfloete ("The Magic Flute")
La Clemenza di Tito, Opera, K. 621
Requiem in d Minor, K. 626

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Lists in Progress

Editor's Note: Upcoming segments will feature rescue operas of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Mozart, Handel, Haydn, and cross-references on comic operas, dramatic operas, chamber music, vocal music, choral music, and music for the pianoforte, all for the ease of writers who would rather search by type of piece or instrument than by composer.

Schubert: Appropriate, But Out of Bounds

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)

“Out of Bounds” is a period-authentic phrase that appears in Byron’s “A Vision of Judgement.” It applies to Schubert in that Schubert wrote many of his most familiar works during the Regency period, but few were published or made known to the general public until after the end of the Regency in 1820.

Also, much of his mature work, like the song cycles Die Winterreise (“The Winter’s Journey”) and Die Schoene Muellerin (“The Miller’s Beautiful Daughter”) were not composed or published, or otherwise exposed to the public, until the early and mid-1820s.

Composition of Die Erlkoenig(“The ErlKing”), D. 328

Lazarus, Oratorio, D. 689
Quartettsatz (Quartet piece) in c minor, D. 703
Fantasy for piano, “Wanderer,” D. 760
Die Zauberharfe, (“The Magic Harp”), Opera, D. 644

Erlkoenig sung in concert on Feb. 8

Symphony No. 8 in b minor, D. 759 (“Unfinished”), composition begun

Die schoene Muellerin, song cycle, D. 795
Die Winterreise, D.911, song cycle

Variations on Death and the Maiden

Shakespeare songs: “Hark, Hark, the Lark!” and “Who is Silvia?”

Monday, May 14, 2007

"Safe" Minor Composers ( Died Before 1811)

This is a partial list of minor but nonetheless popular composers who died before the start of the Regency in 1811. The works are presumed likely to have been played and heard during the Regency, and are, therefore, safe to include in a Regency setting.

Luigi Boccherini (1743-1805)
Major works: Cello concertos and various string and quitar quintets and other chamber works, some with strong flamenco influence. The String Quintet in E, Op. 11, No. 5, includes a popular minuet.

Cristoph Willibald von Gluck (1714-1787)
Operas: Orfeo ed Euridice (1762), features Orfeo’s aria “Che faro senza Euridice” (“What Will I Do Without Euridice?”) and the Dance of the Blessed Spirits, a ballet with a virtuoso flute solo; Iphegenie en Tauride (1777) and Iphegenie en Aulide (1774).

Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816)
Paisiello, one of Napoleon's favorite composers, wrote more than 90 operas, including Il Barbiere di Siviglia (1782). Perhaps his most popular work was the arietta “Nel cor più non mi sento" (“My heart no longer feels”) from his opera La Molinara (1790). The small aria has survived as a recital song and as the theme for a set of variations by Beethoven (1795).

Niccolò Piccinni (1728-1800)
Gluck’s rival. Major works include the opera Iphegenie en Tauride (1781), reputedly an attempt to show Gluck how Gluck should have interpreted the subject in his 1777 opera of the same name.

Regency Beethoven, 1811-1820

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

The following Beethoven works were published or premiered during the Regency, 1811-1820. This list is by no means all-inclusive. My purpose is let non-musicians know what major classical works were around during the period in question, so they can have a sense of what fashionable, early nineteenth century ears had to contend with. Beethoven also wrote military marches and incidental music for plays (dramatic soundtracks, if you will), and he was very much a popular performer and composer. In one regard, he was to the music of his day what the Beatles were to middle twentieth century rock and roll: revolutionary, but not so revolutionary as to be revolting and out of touch with what attracts, captures, and moves an audience.

Symphony No. 7 in A major, Opus 92 (composed 1811-1812)
Wellington's Victory, Opus 92 (A descriptive piece, or what the Romantics would later call a "tone poem," that celebrates Wellington's victory over the French at the Battle of Vitoria in Spain)

Piano Sonata No. 27 in E minor, Opus 90
Symphony No. 8 in F major, Opus 93 (composed 1811-12)

Calm Sea and Prosperous Voyage, Opus 112 (for chorus and orchestra)

An die ferne Geliebte, Opus 98 (song cycle)

Piano Sonata No. 29 in B-flat major, Opus 106 ("Hammerklavier")

The remainder of Beethoven's major works--The Ninth Symphony, Missa Solemnis, and the Diabelli Variations--are not included here because they were published or premiered after 1820 and were, therefore, largely unknown to the general public.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pre-Regency Beethoven, 1795-1810

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827)

I'm starting with major works that would have been available and familiar to musicians and audiences by the start of the Regency in 1811. The dates in the list are publication or premiere dates:


Song, Adelaide
Variations on "Nel Cor piu non mi sento," from Paisiello's opera La Molinara (1790)

Aria, "Ah perfido!"
Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor, Opus 2
Piano Sonata No. 2 in A major, Opus 2
Piano Sonata No. 3 in C major, Opus 3

Piano Concerto No. 1 in C major, Opus 15 (1796-97)
Piano Sonata No. 4 in E-flat major, Opus 7

Piano Concerto No. 2 in B-flat major, Opus 10
Piano Sonata No. 5 in C minor, Opus 10
Piano Sonata No. 6 in F major, Opus 10
Piano Sonata No. 7 in D major, Opus 10
Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Opus 13 ("Pathétique")
Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 2 in F major, Opus 50

Piano Sonata No. 9 in E major, Opus 14
Piano Sonata No. 10 in G major, Opus 15

Piano Sonata No. 11 in B-flat major, Opus 22
Symphony No. 1 in C major, Opus 22

Piano Sonata No. 12 in A-flat major , Opus 26 ("Funeral March")
Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-flat major, Opus 27
Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor, Opus 27 ("Moonlight")
Piano Sonata No. 15 in D major, Opus 28 ("Pastoral")
The Creatures of Prometheus, Opus 43 (overture and ballet music)
Violin Sonata No. 5 in F major, Opus 24 ("Spring")

Fifteen variations and a Fugue on an Original Theme in E-flat major, Opus 35 ("Eroica Variations")
Piano Sonata No. 17 in D minor, Opus 31 ("Tempest")
Piano Sonata No. 18 in E-flat major, Opus 31 ("The Hunt")
Romance for Violin and Orchestra No. 1 in G major, Opus 40

Oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives, Opus 85
Piano Concerto No. 3 in C minor, Opus 37
Piano Sonata No. 21 in C major, Opus 53 ("Waldstein")
Symphony No. 2 in D major, Opus 36
Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major ("Kreutzer")

Fidelio (Opera, composed 1803-1805)
Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor, Opus 57 ("Appassionata")
Symphony No. 3 in E-flat major, Opus 55 ("Eroica")
Triple Concerto for Violin, Cello, and Piano in C major, Opus 56

The "Rasumovsky" Quartets: String Quartet No. 7 in F major, Opus 59; String Quartet No. 8 in E minor, Opus 59; String Quartet No. 9 in C major, Opus 59

Coriolan Overture, Opus 62
Symphony No. 4 in B-flat major, Opus 60

Choral Fantasy for solo piano, chorus, and orchestra, Opus 80
Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Opus 67
Symphony No. 6 in F major, Opus 68 ("Pastoral")

Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat major, Opus 73 ("Emperor")
String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat major, Opus 74 ("Harp")

Piano Sonata No. 26 in E-flat major, Opus 81a ("Les adieux/Lebewohl")
String Quartet No. 11 in F minor, Opus 95 ("Serioso")

c. 1810
Bagatelle in A minor, Opus 59 ("Für Elise")