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the house of the latter, after remarking that the number of eminent mufical performers of all kinds, both vocal and inftrumental, with which London abounded, was far greater than in any other city of Europe, it was lamented that there was no public periodical occafion for collecting and confolidating them into one band; by which means a performance might be exhibited on fo grand and magnificent a fcale as no other part of the world could equal. The birth and death of Handel naturally occurred to three fuch enthusiastic admirers of that great master, and it was immediately recollected, that the next (the laft) year, would be a proper time for the introduction of fuch a cuftom: as it formed a complete century fince his birth and an exact quarter of a century fince his decease.
"The plan was foon after communicated to the governors of the Mufical Fund, who approved it, and promifed their affiftance. It was next fubmitted to the directors of the concert of Antient Mufic, who, with an alacrity which does honour to their zeal for the memory of the great artist Handel, voluntarily undertook the trouble of managing and directing the celebrity. At length, the defign coming to the knowledge of the King, it was honoured with his Majefty's fanction and patronage. Weftminster-Abbey, where the bones of the great musician were depofited, was thought the propereft place for the performance; and application having been made to the Bishop of Rochester for the use of it, his lordship, finding that the fcheme was honoured with the patronage of his Majefty, readily confented; only requefting, as the performance would interfere with the annual benefit for the Weftminfter Infirmary, that part of the profits might be appropriated to that charity, as an indemnification for the lofs it would fuftain. To this the projectors of the plan acceded; and it was afterwards fettled, that the profits of the first day's performance fhould be equally divided between the Mufical Fund and the Westminster Infirmary; and those of the fubfequent days be
folely applied to the ufe of that fund which Handel himself fo long helped to fuftain, and to which he not only bequeathed a thoufand pounds, but which almost every musician in the capital annually contributes his money, his performance, or both, to fupport.
Application was next made to Mr. James Wyatt, the architect, to furnish plans for the neceffary decorations of the abbey; drawings of which having been fhewn to his Majefty, were approved. The general idea was to produce the effect of a royal mufical chapel, with the orchestra terminating one end, and the accommodations for the royal family, the other.
"The arrangement of the performance of each day was next fettled, and I have authority to fay, that it was at his Majefty's inftigation that the celebrity was extended to three days, inftead of two, which he thought would not be fufficient for the difplay of Handel's powers, or fulfilling the charitable purpofes to which it was intended to devote the profits. It was originally intended to have celebrated this grand Mufical Festival on the 20th, 22d, and 23d of April; and the 20th being the day of the funeral of Handel, part of the mufic was, in fome measure, fo felected as to apply to that incident. But, in confequence of the fudden diffolution of parliament, it was thought proper to defer the feftival to the 26th, 27th, and 29th of May, which seems to have been for its advantage: as many perfons of tender conftitutions, who ventured to go to Weftminster-Abbey in warm weather, would not have had the courage to go thither in cold.
Impreffed with a reverence for the memory of Handel, no fooner was the project known, but most of the practical muficians in the kingdom eagerly manifefted their zeal for the enterprise; and many of the most eminent profeffors, waving all claims to precedence in the band, offered to perform in any fubordinate ftation, in which their talents could be most useful."
Then follows the advertisement, and an account of the organ, and of fome inftruments rarely ufed, which were placed in the orchestra on this occafion. S 2
The Doctor then proceeds: "In celebrating the difpofition, difcipline, and effects, of this moft numerous and excellent band, the merit of the admirable architect who furnished the elegant defigns for the orchestra and galleries muft not be forgotten; as, when filled, they conftituted one of the grandeft and moft magnificent spectacles which imagination can delineate. I am acquainted with few buildings that have been conftructed from plans of Mr. Wyatt in which he exercifed his genius in Gothic; but all the preparations for receiving their Majefties, and the first perfonages in the kingdom, at the eaft end; upwards of five hundred muficians at the weft; and the public in general, to the number of between three and four thoufand perfons, in the area and galleries, fo wonderfully correfponded with the ftyle of architecture of this venerable and beautiful ftructure, that there was nothing vifible, either for ufe or ornament, which did not harmonize with the principal tone of the building, and which may not, metaphorically, have been faid to be in perfect tune with it. But, befides the wonderful manner in which this conftruction exhibited the band to the fpectators, the orchestra was fo judiciously contrived, that almoft every performer, both vocal and inftrumental, was in full view of the conductor and leader; which accounts, in fome meafure, for the uncommon eafe with which the performers confefs they executed their parts.
"The whole preparations for thefe grand performances were comprised within the western part of the building, or broad aifle; and fome excellent judges declared, that, apart from their beauty, they had never feen fo wonderful a piece of carpentry as the orchestra and galleries, after Mr. Wyatt's models. Indeed, the goodnefs of the workmanship was demonftrated by the whole four days of commemoration in the abbey being exempted from every fpecies of accident, notwithftanding the great crouds, and conflicts for paces, which each performance produced.
"At the east end of the aifle, juft be
fore the back of the choir-organ, fome of the pipes of which were visible below, a throne was erected in a beautiful Gothic ftyle, correfponding with that of the Abbey, and a centre box, richly decorated, and furnished with crimfon fattin, fringed with gold, for the reception of their Majefties and the royal family; on the right hand of which was a box for the bishops, and, on the left one for the Dean and Chapter of Westminster; immediately below thefe two boxes were two others, one, on the right, for the families and friends of the directors, and the other for thofe of the prebendaries of Weftminfter. Immediately below the King's box was placed one for the directors themfelves; who were all diftinguished by white wands tipped with gold, and gold medals, ftruck on the occafion, appending from white ribbands. Thefe their Majefties likewife condefcended to wear at each performance. Behind, and on each fide of the throne, there were feats for their Majefty's fuite, maids of honour, grooms of the bedchamber, pages, &c.
"The orcheftra was built at the oppofite extremity, afcending regularly, from the height of feven feet from the floor, to upwards of forty, from the bafe of the pillars; and extending from the centre to the top of the fide aifle.
"The intermediate fpace below was filled up with level benches, and appropriated to the early fubfcribers. The fide ailes were formed into long galleries, ranging with the orchestra, and afcending, fo as to contain twelve rows on each fide: the fronts of which projected before the pillars, and were ornamented with feftoons of crimfon morine.
"At the top of the orchestra was placed the occafional organ, in a Gothic frame, mounting to, and mingling. with, the faints and martyrs reprefented in the painted glafs on the weft window. On each fide of the organ, clofe to the window, were placed the kettle-drums. The choral bands were principally placed in view of Mr. Bates, on fteps, feemingly afcending into the clouds, in each of the fide aifles, as their termination
was invifible to the audience. The principal fingers were ranged in the front of the orchestra, as at Oratorios, accompanied by the choirs of St. Paul, the Abbey, Windfor, and the ChapelRoyal.
"The defign of appointing fubdirectors, was to diminish, as much as poffible, the trouble of the noblemen and gentlemen who had projected the undertaking, as well as that of the conductor: and this was effected with great diligence and zeal, not only in fuperintending the business at the doors of admiffion, and conducting the company to their feats, which fell to the Thare of Dr. Cook, Dr. Ayrton,and Meff. Jones, Aylward, and Parfons, all profeffors of the firft clafs; but in arranging the performers, and conveying fignals to the feveral parts of that wideextended orchestra: departments which fell to the lot of Dr. Arnold and Mr. Dupuis, organifts and compofers to his Majefty, and Mr. Redmond Simpfon, eminent and refpectable profeffors, of great experience, who may be faid to have acted as Adjutant-Generals on the the occafion; Dr. Arnold and Mr. Dupuis having been placed on different fides of the orcheftra, over the vocal choir, and Mr. Simpfon in the centre, over the fubordinate inftrumental performers. In felecting thefe delegates among the members of the Mufical Society, great care was taken not to enfeeble the orcheftra, by employing fuch performers as were likely to augment its force; but fuch as had either ceafed to play in public, or whofe inftruments being the organ and harpfichord, of which only one was wanted, accepted of parts which were not the lefs ufeful for being filently performed.
"Of the care and intelligence with which preparations were made for these performances, fome judgment may be formed from the fingle circumftance of the mufic-books that were provided for each day: as two hundred and feventyfour were requifite for the firft performance, in the Abbey; a hundred and
thirty-eight for the Pantheon; and two hundred and fixty-feven for the Meffiah; amounting in all to seven hundred and feventy-nine; not one of which was miffing or mislaid, nor was an inftru ment wanting during the whole commemoration: as the porters had ftrict orders to convey all the inftruments into the orchestra, at the Abbey, by feven o'clock in the morning of each day, to prevent the company from being incommoded by the admission of fuch as were unwieldy.
"Few circumftances, will perhaps, more aftonish veteran muficians, than to be informed, that there was but one general rehearsal for each day's performance: an indifputable proof of the high ftate of cultivation to which practical mufie is at prefent arrived in this coun try; for, if good performers had not been found, ready made, a dozen rehearsals would not have been fufficient to make them fo. Indeed, Mr. Bates, in examining the lift of performers, and enquiring into their feveral merits, fuggefted the idea of what he called a drilling rehearsal, at Tottenham-ftreet Concert-Room, a week before the formance; in order to hear fuch volunteers, particularly chorus-fingers, as were but little known to himself, or of whofe abilities his affiftant was unable to fpeak with certainty*. At this rehearfal, though it confifted of a hundred and twenty performers, not more than two of that number were defired to attend no more."
The concourfe of people, our author then tells us, who gained admiffion with the performers into the Abbey, at the first rehearsal, occafioned the directors to fix the price of admiffion to the future rehearsals to half a guinea for each perfon. After some remarks on the abfence of a coryphæus to beat time in these performances, the doctor thus concludes the introduction:
"As this Commemoration is not only the firft inftance of a band of fuch magnitude being affembled together,
*This was Mr. John Afhly, of the guards, whofe unwearied zeal and diligence were conftantly employed with fuch intelligence and fuccefs, as greatly facilitated the advancement of the plan, and diminished the anxiety of Mr. Bates, as well as the weight with which he had voluntarily loaded his
but of any band, at all numerous, performing in a fimilar fituation, without the affiftance of a manuductor, to regulate the meafure, the performances in Westminster-Abbey may be fafely pronounced, no lefs remarkable for the multiplicity of voices and inftruments employed, than for accuracy and precifion. When all the wheels of that huge machine, the orchestra, were in motion, the effect refembled clock-work in every thing, but want of feeling and expreffion.
"And, as the power of gravity and attraction in bodies is proportioned to their mafs and denfity, fo it feems as if the magnitude of this band had commanded and impelled adhesion and obedience, beyond that of any other of inferior force. The pulfations in every limb, and ramifications of veins and arteries in an animal, could not be more reciprocal, ifochronous, and under the regulation of the heart, than the members of this body of musicians under that of the conductor and leader. The totality of found feemed to proceed from one voice, and one inArument; and its powers produced, not only new and exquifite fenfations in judges and lovers of the art, but were felt by those who never received pleasure from Music before.
"Thefe effects, which will be long remembered by the prefent public, perhaps to the disadvantage of all other choral performances, run the risk of being doubted by all but those who heard them, and the prefent defcription of being pronounced fabulous, if it fhould furvive the prefent genera
A lift of the performers follows the introduction, with a plan of the orcheftra and difpofition of the band; and then comes the account of the five days performances, of which it is hardly neceffary to fay, that four were at the Abbey, and that one was in the Pantheon-but for these we must refer the reader to the book itself, and fhall only remark, that they can scarcely be read without pleasure, and that the musical remarks are enlivened with feveral curious anecdotes.
with a letter from Count Benincasa, a Venetian nobleman, to the author, containing a fhort account of fome foreign mufical performances. This letter is preceded by the following remarks:
"Thus ended the fifth and laft of the performances for this memorable celebration; and fo great and perfect was the pleafure which the audience had received, that those who had attended all the five exhibitions feemed moft to regret this final clofe. There remains, however, a hope, that a performance fomewhat fimilar may be annually established under the auspices of their Majefties and the fame directors, for the benefit of the Musical Fund. The plan is not yet wholly digefted; but I have authority to fay that their Majefties have graciously condefcended to take this Society and Charity under their royal patronage and protection; that the noblemen and baronets who fo admirably directed the late Commemoration have deigned to become in a particular manner patrons of the inftitution, by accepting the offices of honorary Prefident and VicePrefidents of this Society; and that an annual performance, on a grand and extenfive fcale, is in meditation, at which pieces felected from the works of the immortal Handel, now confecrated by time, reafon, fcience, and univerfal approbation, will be performed in the most perfect and fplendid manner poffible.
"This information may, perhaps, a little abate the defpair of thofe lovers of mufic, who imagined that fuch an artificial want was created by the late grand and exquifite performances, as it was impoffible ever again to gratify; regarding the concurrence of favourable circumftances which produced such an audience, and fuch a performance, as totally out of the reach of purchase or power of chance.
Indeed the late performances, for fome time, fo diminished the effect of orchestras which always used to be thought the moft confiderable, that many of the performers in the Operaband, after having been at the Abbey The account of the fifth day finishes on the two Saturday mornings of Com
memoration, imagined, at night, that half their brethren were absent, and the other half asleep.
"And though there may, perhaps, be a difference of opinion concerning the comparative excellence of particular movements in the compofitions of each day, as well as the performance of individuals; yet the effects and perfection of the whole; the precifion with which this mufical phalanx moved, and weight and dignity it gave to every feries of founds in melody, and combination in harmony, can only be controverted by extreme ignorance, or perfect infenfibility. But if, befides thefe, there should still be others, who, withing to be thought more delicate in their feelings, and accurate in their decifions than the reft of mankind, are unwilling to do juftice to thefe performances; they may furely be asked what is good mufic, and good performance, if fuch as produced thefe effects be denied that title? Let us, at leaft, have fome fuperior ftandard of excellence erected, under which to enlift, before we abandon fenfibility to the merciless severity of unprincipled crities, who seem at war, not only with candour, truth, and good tafte, but with their own pleasures.'
By the accounts of the money received and expended at the five mufical exhibitions, it appears that they produced 12,7361. 12s. 10d. which, after paying expences, was all appropriated to charitable purposes, except 2861. 6s. 6d. which was left in the hands of Mr. R. Simpson, fub-treasurer, to answer fubfequent demands.
The whole concludes with an Appendix, which relates entirely to the Mufical Fund, or as it is now called, the Mufical Royal Society. For that is the name which has been affigned to it, fince their Majefties have graciously condefcended to honour it with their patronage.
an account of the plates with whcih the work is ornamented.
I. FRONTISPIECE. ftruck on occafion of the Commemoration of Handel, and worn by their Majefties and the directors, on the days of performance. Engraved by Bartolozzi, and defigned by Burney.
II. View of Handel's monument in Weftminster-Abbey, with the additional tablet, recording his commemoration. Engraved by Delatre, from a drawing by Burney.
III. Ticket of admiffion to the first day's performance, which was originally fixed for the 21st of April, to commemorate the day of HANDEL'S funeral. It reprefents a SARCOPHAGus, with a medallion of the great mufician over it. Engraved by Sherwin, and defigned by Rebecca.
IV, Ticket of admiffion to the fe cond performance. HANDEL compofing facred mufic, the Genius of Harmony crowning him, and a feraph wafting his name to heaven. Engraved by Bartolozzi, and defigned by Cipriani.
V. Ticket of admiffion to the third performance. Britannia pointing to a pyramid, on which the name of HANDEL is engraved: a genius offering the firft fruits of a facrifice to his memory; and on the back ground, a perfpective view of Weftminster-Abbey. Engraved by Haward, and defigned by Smirk.
VI. View of the gallery prepared for the reception of their Majefties, the royal family, directors, archbishops and bifhops, dean and chapter of Weitminster, heads of the law, and others of the principal perfonages in the kingdom, at the Commemoration of HANDEL, in Weftminster-Abbey. Engraved by Spilfbury, from a drawing by Burney.
VII. View of the orchestra and performers in Westminster-Abbey, during the Commemoration of Handel. Engraved by Collyer, from a drawing by
We fhall conclude this article with Burney.
TO THE EDITOR OF THE LONDON MAGAZINE.
THE HE difference in the apparent magnitudes of the fun and moon, near the horizon and on the meridian, is a phenomenon that has extremely embarraffed modern philofophers, and the folution given to it which is now gene