Thames Valley Early Music Forum
Tamesis Issue 181
Our next event is the Striggio 40-part motet for voices and instruments (including recorders) at Waltham Abbey. I’m sure it will be just as good as Philip Thorby’s day last year doing Tallis’s 40-part spem, so I’m really annoyed that I can’t come because I’m playing in a concert the same day. I’d just like to say how much I enjoyed seeing everyone at the baroque day in Oxford which Peter Collier organised magnificently as usual, bringing a load of harpsichords down from Manchester and arranging all the groups and their music, as well as coping with a few unexpected hitches – including the absence for the first hour of two string players and their harpsichord after a flock of sheep escaped from an overturned lorry on the motorway.
This has been a good month for me musically, because I’ve also just spent a weekend in Cambridge, singing in Trinity College chapel with Michael Procter, organised by EEMF. The music was Ludwig Daser’s Missa super Ave Maria, based on Josquin’s motet Ave Maria…Virgo Serena. The motet, which we also sang, exists in a four-part version and also in a six-part, to my mind improved, version with the additional two parts possibly added by Daser himself. Daser was born in Munich in about 1525 and became Kapellmeister of the Hofkapelle in 1552, four years before Lassus joined the choir. I’d never heard of him before this weekend was announced, but I rightly assumed that Michael would have found some very worthwhile music for us to work on, as he always does. It was lovely to sing in Trinity College chapel, and it crossed my mind that perhaps TVEMF could do something similar in Oxford. I was at St Hugh’s which only has a small chapel, but if any other member has connections with a college with a suitable chapel please let me know.
Many thanks to D Arrowsmith for his contribution to Tamesis this month. He always sends something at this time of year and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
Owing to various clashing events such as the Viola da Gamba Society meeting, the Renaissance Day was poorly attended though it was musically viable and, as far as I know, quite successful. The Baroque day attracts people from far and wide, drawing on the participants in the Oxford Baroque Week as well as many from TVEMF. I thoroughly enjoyed my day and am most grateful to Peter Collier for all his hard work.
It may not be too late to sign up for Striggio's Ecce beatam Lucem on the 6th May, though singers will probably have to sing from a part rather than a score. Whilst is not quite in the same class as Tallis's Spem in Alium it is a fine work, and I have happy memories of studying it under Philip Thorby at a Beauchamp house summer school and of the final performance, which was stunning.
The following EEC regulations affecting musicians came into use on the first of this month:
Most printed music will now have to carry a safety warning because the Health and Safety Executive considers that the sharps might be dangerous. It is thought that it might be possible to evade this by renaming them "blunts" and this could be tied in to the other change of nomenclature whereby, to conform to EEC standards, flats will have to become apartments.
To conform to race-relations guidelines, pianos and harpsichords will no longer be permitted to have segregated black and white notes - all notes will be grey.
It seems that the rule whereby up to two musicians were allowed to perform in pub without a licence is being misunderstood by some authorities. Application of the "Two in a bar" rule has meant that minuets, waltzes etc. are being banned in some areas but this is only a temporary problem (see below). Music is being metricated. In future all bars will contain ten beats, each of which may be subdivided into ten deci-beats. Octaves will disappear to be replaced by decaves, so 12-tone music will have to be rewritten as 10-tone music.
Although it is thought unlikely that the changes will cause any serious problems, the government has set up a heavily-funded new body to be known as Music Advice for Decimalisation (MAD).
Popes, Prelates and Priests – a music quiz
Taken by kind permission of Susan Yaxley from “The Larks Music Quiz Omnibus”
published by the Larks Press, Ordnance Farm, Guist Bottom, Norfolk .
Answers at the end.
Which composer was turned out of the Pope’s choir because he was married?
Which composer was a personal friend of Pope Pius IX?
Which composer was known as the ‘Red Priest’?
Which composer was successively director of music to two Italian cardinals?
Who was given the ‘Order of the Golden Spur’ by Pope Gregory XIII?
Which Pope added four modes to the plainsong repertory?
Which two composers took part in an organ and harpsichord competition at the request of Cardinal Ottoboni?
Which composer was described as ‘a cheerful saint’?
Who made a poem by Cardinal Newman into a major choral work?
Which composer was first employed, then humiliated by the Archbishop of Salzburg?
I first came across the Larks Press when I bought their booklet about the Elizabeth actor Will Kemp who danced from London to Norwich (now unfortunately out of print). They have a varied and interesting catalogue, much of it about local history, which you can see at www.booksatlarkspress.co.uk and in exchange for permission to use some of their music quizzes in Tamesis I’ve been asked to mention their latest publication “Life of Song” by Robert Yates.
Letter to the editor
Christine Edwards's account of Music for the Annunciation with Andrew Carwood (Perivale, 25 February) makes me wish I had not had to work that day. However, she must be confusing her bucolic occupations in ascribing Verbum caro factum est to John Farmer: John Sheppard, surely?
Yrs, Michael Frost
1. Palestrina 2. Liszt 3. Vivaldi 4. Corelli 5. Lassus 6. Pope Gregory the Great 7. Handel and Scarlatti 8. Franck 9. Elgar 10. Mozart