HANDWASHERS’ NEWSLETTER 18th APRIL 2021
ROADMAP TO REHEARSALS?
The on-time implementation of Step 2 of the Roadmap last Monday is encouraging for our Revised Provisional Plan for restarting rehearsals. (Click here to remind yourself: Provisional Plan March revision) If the data continues to move in the right direction and the step-by-step relaxation of Lockdown doesn’t result in an upsurge of cases, then summer rehearsals are a distinct possibility. Meanwhile, stay healthy, grab your jabs, keep your fingers crossed and keep the evening of Tuesday 22nd June free.
Here is something we all know and have probably sung at some stage in our lives. Cirencester Choral Society last performed Vivaldi’s Gloria in 2017 – it seems like yesterday!
Antonio Vivaldi (1678 – 1741)
The work was written for the choir of the Ospedale della Pieta, an orphanage for girls, which prided itself on the quality of its musical education. Vivaldi, a priest, music teacher and virtuoso violinist, composed many sacred and instrumental works for the school, where he spent most of his working life. The text, taken from the traditional from the Latin Mass, is presented in 12 cantata-like movements. The bright, sunny nature of the music has secured the work’s enduring popularity amongst audiences and performers alike. That said, this popularity is comparatively recent, as the work lay undiscovered for over two centuries until the 1920’s, when it was found amongst a pile of forgotten manuscripts. In 1939 the composer Alfredo Casella made the first modern edition of the work, essentially saving it from total oblivion.
Ospedale della Pieta in Vivaldi’s day
NORTHERN TRAVELS enjoyed by Diana Boulton:
Tim’s earlier article about his visit to the Hallgrinskirkja in Reykjavik reminded me of a trip to another wonderful city in northern lands!
My husband and I had travelled by train and boat over Midsummer 2019 to the Lofoten Islands. On the way back we were keen to spend several days in the beautiful city of Trondheim, founded in 997 by King Olav Tryggvasan. At its heart is the very impressive cathedral, Nidarosdomen. It is the inspiration for many pilgrims as it is the site of the death of Olav the Holy in 1030.
The city and cathedral have suffered many times from fire and destruction but the streets and traditional buildings and wooden warehouses evoke a busy trading past. Nidarosdomen still displays its magnificent sculpted west front and has, like many of our own churches, been wonderfully restored in 19th century Gothic.
Its 1930 Steinmeyer organ with 146 stops and 36 couplers is, apparently, one of the largest cathedral organs in Europe and a full renovation had recently been completed.
The opening concert of the International Music Series 2019 was given by the resident organist, Magne H. Draagen and it was a memorable evening- a feast for eyes and ears! We were able to gaze at the arching pillars and extraordinarily rich stained-glass windows whilst listening to a varied programme of organ music by European composers from 17th to 20th centuries including Grieg and Nielson.
Perhaps the highlight though was ‘Herr Jesu Christ, dich zu uns wend’ BWV655 by JS Bach. I’m told this is a deceptively challenging piece for the organist but that was no worry to me…. It is uplifting and joyous for the listener! https://youtu.be/Nfd8yoVIhWY
ITALY TO GERMANY VIA AMSTERDAM? Tim’s going for Baroque again:
As we noted back in November when describing his walk to Lubeck, Johann Sebastian Bach was willing to supplement his own genius by learning from the work of others. In particular, he studied works by contemporary Italian composers and even the amateur ear may pick up the influence of Vivaldi in several of his compositions.
Bach never left Germany so (in the absence of electronics!) how did he come to access this music from the other end of Europe?
I had read that he received scores from the Netherlands which seemed an unlikely route from Italy. However, when reading a CD booklet about Corelli’s Concerti Grossi, I found that these works had ‘ . . .come down to us in a luxurious edition, printed by Estienne Roger of Amsterdam in 1714’. Bach studied the works of Corelli and based an organ fugue (BWV 579) on Corelli’s Opus 3 of 1689: https://youtu.be/kvdMP6Nm2Nk
Estienne Roger (1664 – 1722) was born in Caen but the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685 drove his Huguenot family to flee to Amsterdam where he trained as a printer. He opened his own shop, eventually specialising in printing and publishing sheet music, in Kalverstraat in 1691.
Estienne Roger’s bookshop in Kalverstraat was the first or second on the right.
Between 1696 and 1722 Roger published over 500 editions of music written by a wide range of composers. In 1711 he published Vivaldi‘s Opus 3 L’estro armonico, a collection of 12 concerti for one, two, and four violins with strings: https://youtu.be/GWZTyiMXulQ?t=36 which Bach subsequently transcribed for keyboard instruments.
In some cases, Roger simply offered reprinted works that had been published by Giuseppe Sala in Venice or Ballard in Paris but mostly he worked from manuscript copies sent by the composers.
Thus, it seems likely that Estienne Roger’s business was the vital link between Vivaldi, Corelli and probably others, and J S Bach’s appetite for Italian music.
OUR FINAL TRIBUTE TO HRH PRINCE PHILIP Some music from yesterday’s funeral:
Music by the Massed bands: https://youtu.be/LL55C3pgiEo?t=7165
Eternal Father strong to save: https://youtu.be/79oJWx3lxlU
Croft’s Funeral Sentences: https://youtu.be/0Mi4DD7v5OY
Russian Kontakian of the Departed: https://youtu.be/cvwW5ju6PH8
AND FINALLY . . .
While inspecting massed military bands in pouring rain, the Duke of Edinburgh asked the Drum Major whose dress uniform was covered in gold braid, ‘Do you think you’ll go rusty?’