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Dexter, Keri

The Provision of Choral Music at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, and Eton College, c.1640-1733

Ph.D. Royal Holloway, University of London, 2000
(k.dexter@cloister.force9.co.uk)

Until relatively recently, musicologists' account of church music in post-Restoration and early Georgian England has been substantially incomplete due to an almost exclusive preoccupation with the music (and musicians) of the Chapel Royal. The balance is now being redressed, and this thesis - focusing on the choirs of St George's Chapel, Windsor, and Eton College - seeks to begin the task of filling one of the remaining lacunae in our understanding of the field. It represents the first detailed examination of the practical workings of a (provincial) choral foundation during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, placing the musicians within their wider historical and social context(s), and based on a comprehensive study of the extant archival material.

In effect, the thesis falis into two parts. Chapters 2-4 consider the musicians themselves: their origin and recruitment; their changing roles (particularly during the early eighteenth century); and the increasing overlap of personnel between the Eton, Windsor and Chapel Royal choirs. They also assess the impact of the Civil War and Commonwealth on the Anglican choral tradition: Chapter 2 presents evidence to show that the Eton College choir continued to be employed (albeit in a substantially-reduced musical capacity) throughout much of the 1640s and 1650s.

Chapter 5 begins by highlighting the wider administrative role of the St George's Chapel music copyists, and illustrates how non-musical sources can assist in the task of scribal identification. The development of the post-Restoration Windsor repertoire, the work of composer William Child, and issues of transmission and performance are then documented through a critical examination of surviving music manuscripts.

Extensive appendices supply biographieal listings of the St George's Chapel and Eton College choirs, together with detailed inventories of selected Windsor partbooks, and of nine (previously uncatalogued) organ books at Eton.