The 33rd Annual Conference on Music in 18th-Century Britain




CHAIRS – Ann van Allen-Russell, Colin Timms

10.00 Coffee and registration

10.15 Cheryll Duncan (RNCM) – Musical life in the King’s Bench Prison circa 1760:

new evidence from the Courts of Common Pleas and Exchequer

10.45 Colin Timms (Birmingham) – First and Last: Steffani and the Academy of

Ancient Music

11.15-11.45 Coffee / Reports (from 11.30)

11.45 Douglas MacMillan (Guildford) and Isobel Clarke  (RCM) – A musical enigma: the bass         recorder in the long eighteenth century

12.15 Catherine Crisp (Emsworth) – The clarinet in London’s popular culture

(circa 1760 -circa 1810)

12.45 Amanda Babington (Manchester) – The ‘other’ Scottish pipes: Bonnie Prince

Charlie’s Musette

13.15-14.00 Lunch

14.00 Roya Stuart-Rees (Royal Holloway) – Music for the Marine Society

14.30 Micah Anne Neale (Royal Holloway) – Erddig’s Servants: Music, Space, Status

15.00 Sally Drage (Congleton) – ‘Vital spark’: music and musicians in eighteenth-

century Liverpool


15.30-16.00 Tea

16.00 Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson (Chelmsford) – New light on the Baroness

16.30 Randall Scotting (RCM) – Influencing perceptions: Senesino in Bononcini’s

La Griselda of 1722


17.00 Conference ends

REGISTRATION FEE, including lunch and refreshments, and

admission to The Foundling Museum between 10am and 5pm, payable in advance, £17 (£21 on the day)

By cheque payable to ‘The Foundling Museum’ – please send to:

GCHC, The Foundling Museum, 40 Brunswick Square, London, WC1N 1AZ

By card: fee applies)

Organised by Claire Sharpe, Katharine Hogg and Colin Coleman

Cheryll Duncan – Musical life in the King’s Bench Prison circa 1760: new evidence from the Courts of Common Pleas and Exchequer

Lewis Christian Austin Granom’s Plain and easy instructions for playing on the German flute(1766) is significant in being the earliest work on the pedagogy of the flute by a named English author. The treatise, however, had an extraordinary genesis, being largely the product of the many lessons Granom gave to its dedicatee, John Bourke Esq., a wealthy Irish landowner who was incarcerated for debt in the King’s Bench Prison at the time. Recently discovered documents among the legal records held by The National Archives at Kew in London show that teacher and pupil, after an initial period of close friendship, quarrelled over money, in particular, unpaid fees due for the flute lessons that Granom gave Bourke daily (except Sundays) over a period of about fourteen months in 1766-67; other issues included the cost of writing and printing the Plain and easy instructions, and the price charged by Granom for copying and transposing various songs, and arranging them for the flute. Their relationship broke down irreparably on 21 October 1767 when Granom paid Bourke a social call in his apartments in prison, where he was given so much wine to drink that he became intoxicated; in the course of the evening he was also persuaded to play backgammon, with disastrous consequences. Next day he was informed that he had gambled away £95, which Bourke insisted should be deducted from the unpaid bill for his flute lessons. Granom then wrote to Bourke accusing him of ungentlemanly conduct and resigning as his teacher. The litigation, involving both the common law (Court of Common Pleas) and equity (Court of Exchequer), gives a fascinating insight into the patron/composer relationship, their musical tastes and views regarding Handel’s posthumous reputation, the sources used to compile the Instructions, the cultural and social life of one of London’s more salubrious gaols, and the cost of music lessons, copying and other related expenses.


Colin Timms – First and Last: Steffani and the Academy of Ancient Music

It is well known that Steffani was elected president of the Academy of Ancient (at that time ‘Vocal’) Music, that he sent the academy copies of his existing works and that he composed some new pieces for its meetings. Nevertheless, there are some unanswered questions. He sent his madrigal ‘Gettano i re dal soglio’ in December 1726, before he had heard about the academy from his London-based friend Giuseppe Riva, so who first told him about the institution, and when? The madrigal is generally assumed to be the first new piece he sent, but it may have been preceded, as this paper points out, by a hitherto neglected, anonymous vocal duet that was meant as a kind of joke.  The last piece he sent the academy is his ‘Stabat Mater’, but a detail in the part-writing suggests that the work was not originally conceived for the instruments listed in the eighteenth-century English manuscripts, the only early sources to survive. This paper therefore speculates on the origins and compositional history of Steffani’s somewhat puzzling ‘masterpiece’.

Isobel Clarke and Douglas MacMillan – A musical enigma: the bass recorder in the long eighteenth century


The bass recorder, or ‘bassett’, is most commonly associated with the consort music of the sixteen and early seventeenth centuries. The instruments used in this period conformed to the Renaissance and transitional styles of recorder building, and there are several examples still in existence today. However, a recent study of collection checklists and indices has revealed that many Baroque-style bass recorders from the very late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries have also survived. Conversely, a study of contemporary compositions suggests that the assigned repertoire for these instruments was exceedingly small. In an attempt to reconcile this apparent contradiction, our paper will examine the organology of the bass recorder (particularly those by Bressan) as used in the eighteenth century, and its assigned repertoire. We will make brief comments on the minimal evidence for the existence of ‘great bass’ recorders in the English baroque era.

The practice of bass recorder performance and the sociality of this practice (in both amateur and professional environments) will also be discussed. Particular attention will be given to its possible use as a continuo instrument, proposed as a common practice by several authors. We will explore the reasons for and against this hypothesis, drawing on an examination of the attributes required of continuo instruments in eighteenth-century practice, and discuss the suitability for the bass recorder in this role. More than 100 bass recorders dating from the late seventeenth to early nineteenth centuries survive: it is the aim of our paper to present a comprehensive — and at times speculative —review of these instruments, their repertoire and usage, little of which has hitherto been presented in organological or musicological literature. The paper will be illustrated with musical examples.

Catherine Crisp – The clarinet in London’s popular culture (circa 1760-circa 1810)


Eighteenth-century London was a centre of diverse entertainments and music played a vital role in a myriad of events attended by differing levels of London society. The prevalence of music in London’s culture at this time offered an ideal showcase to present the newest woodwind instrument, the clarinet, to a variety of audiences.

This paper will examine references to the increasing appearance of clarinets at a variety of entertainments in 18th-century London, drawing on a selection of previously undocumented source material.  The entertainments considered will include circuses, fairs, the smaller pleasure gardens, debating societies and river parties, demonstrating the growing employment of the instrument in London at this time.

This paper will also provide an insight into how contemporary audiences responded to both the newest woodwind instrument and clarinettists in performance, using reviews and letters to interpret how the instrument was perceived in this centre.

In order to discuss the growing presence of clarinets in London’s popular culture, I will explore research questions such as:

  • Which events and entertainments featured clarinets and in what capacity?
  • To what extent was the clarinet known and recognized by London audiences and by different classes?
  • What contemporary reviews and reports exist of performances including clarinets given at these events?
  • Are extant reviews of these performances favourable? Amanda Babington – The ‘other’ Scottish pipes: Bonnie Prince Charlie’s MusetteIn the West Highland Museum there exists a rather worn-looking Musette attached to which there is a plaque that reads ‘Charles Edward Stuart, last PRINCE of the Royal House of Stuart’. Also known as the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart was born and raised in the Stuart court in exile in Rome. However, his father, James Francis Edward had previously held court in Avignon and had been brought up at the Stuart court in exile at the Chateau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye. There, the Stuarts had enjoyed the support and protection of Louis XIV, himself an enthusiastic Musette player and possibly even the source of the instrument bearing Bonnie Prince Charlie’s name. The Musette in the West Highland Museum was bought by I Skene of Rubislaw (an estate near Aberdeen) in Rome in 1802, supporting its alleged connection to the Stuart court in exile. But what evidence is there of the Musette being played in Scotland during the 18th Century? Did Bonnie Prince Charlie while away the long hours of travel during his 1745 campaign perhaps entertaining himself on the Musette? Or perhaps he entertained his guests on the Grand Tour with his skills on this little-known instrument? Perhaps it became yet another piece of code for Jacobite supporters? An unashamedly speculative investigation, this recital-paper seeks to uncover any evidence of this secretive instrument, examining whether there is any evidence to suggest that 18th century audiences might have heard it on UK soil or during their travels.
  • This paper will display the growing use of newest woodwind instrument in 18th-century London, offering fresh insight into the extent to which the clarinet was known and recognized by a wide cross-section of London society.

Roya Stuart-Rees – Music for the Marine Society

The Marine Society was one of the most prominent charitable institutions in eighteenth-century London. Founded in 1756 by the philanthropist and merchant Jonas Hanway, its object was to tackle the dwindling numbers in the Royal Navy by recruiting destitute men and boys to serve on ships, and providing them with clothing and transport. Although the Society, given its purposes, might seem a surprising subject for musicological research, this paper reveals the multifarious ways in which the Society used music – in the theatre, in concert, in church services, and at celebratory dinners – to display and celebrate its accomplishments, enhance its public profile, and solicit donations. As the minute books document, committee members exploited their social connections to solicit the services of figures such as Handel, Arne, and David Garrick for benefit performances at Drury Lane and Ranelagh, and the Society also hosted anniversary dinners, at which Benjamin Cooke and the Westminster Abbey choristers under his care performed. These dinners were often preceded by thanksgiving sermons, featuring the performance of anthems (some specially commissioned), and processions through the City streets accompanied by drums and fifes. The minutes shed light on the planning, management, and success (or otherwise) of such performances, and vividly reveal the manner in which a group consisting largely of merchants fostered connections to – and engaged with – London’s musical life.

Micah Anne Neale – Erddig’s Servants: Music, Space, Status


The unusually complete records of Erddig House near Wrexham produce a considerably deeper insight into musicmaking among eighteenth-century domestic servants than is possible from most provincial sources. Not only has the house’s layout remained basically unchanged since the late eighteenth century, the Yorke family kept a large number of account books, letters and miscellaneous records. I have found a number of references to musical events across these sources, as well as a great deal of evidence of servants’ economic and social lives. Synthesising these, together with the limited direct evidence of servant musicmaking – a Black coachboy playing the horn, servants enjoying opera tunes in the servants’ hall – allows a compelling image to emerge of musical life for eighteenth-century domestic servants.

In tandem with other, well-trodden sources of information on provincial musical life in the eighteenth century, the picture which emerges is one of largely self-motivated entertainment. Detailed records of payments made to servants bear witness to a culture of consumption and sociality, confirming some aspects of servants’ behaviour depicted in contemporary fiction, memoirs and diaries. My paper outlines the decisive role of servants in the processes by which ‘elite’ musics become more widely known, and used, among the general population. Also made clearer are the ways in which servants engaged with eighteenth-century consumer entertainments and commercial music. The house itself, too, makes the spaces and places of servant musicmaking at Erddig eloquent and revealing.

Sally Drage – ‘Vital spark: music and musicians in eighteenth-century Liverpool


During the eighteenth century, Liverpool became England’s main slave trading port and, as its population grew, there was an increasing demand for cultural entertainment. This paper will discuss the development of secular and sacred music in Georgian Liverpool with particular reference to the contributions of two families, the Wainwrights and the Harwoods. It will also attempt to explain the unprecedented growth in popularity of a funeral piece composed by Edward Harwood, The Dying Christian to his Soul, more commonly known by the opening words of its text, ‘Vital spark’.

Robert and Richard Wainwright were both, in turn, organist at St Peter’s, the most fashionable church in Liverpool. Soon after his appointment in 1775, Robert directed an ambitious four-day music festival. His compositions were performed locally and he also organised subscription concerts. After his early death in 1782 at the age of 33, he was succeeded at St Peter’s by his brother, Richard, who had a longer but less illustrious career, although his three-part glee, ‘Life’s a bumper’ was well known.

Mary and Edward Harwood performed music by Robert Wainwright at Liverpool concerts and were part of the northwest contingent who sang at the Handel Commemoration in 1784. Mary became one of the best Handelian singers of the period but, like Robert Wainwright, Edward died young, at just 31. He composed two books of church music and six secular songs but he is remembered for only one work, ‘Vital spark’. It became one of the top ten psalmody pieces in America and it was even sung at the funeral of a Polynesian prince. If time allows, it is hoped that ‘Vital spark’ will be performed by all delegates as part of this paper.

Olive Baldwin & Thelma Wilson – New light on the Baroness

The Baroness was the most mysterious of the four female singing stars to appear on the London stage in the first decade of the 18th century, when all-sung opera was becoming established in England.   (The other three were the ‘first British prima donna’ Catheriine Tofts, Margherita de l’Epine and Maria Gallia.)   One advertisement, in January 1703, named her as  ‘the Famous Signiora Joanna Maria Lindehleim’, but this surname never appeared again.  In March 1706 she sang the role of Lavinia in the English version of Bononcini’s Camilla; the first collection of songs from the opera named her as ‘the Barr.ns’, and she was called the Baroness for the rest of her career.  She settled in London, became the partner or wife of Nicola Francesco Haym, and when she died in 1724 was buried as ‘The Right Hon.ble Mary Baroness of Linchenham’.  In the fifth edition of Grove’s Dictionarythe name was given conjecturally as Lindelheim and this spelling became generally accepted.  But what was her correct married name, and why did she call herself the Baroness?  We have recently been looking at documents that clarify matters a little, tell of the births of her children and throw more light on her career and her early relationship with Haym.

Randall Scotting Influencing perceptions: Senesino in Bononcini’s La Griselda of 1722

When he joined the Royal Academy of Music in 1720, the famed castrato Francesco Bernardi (known as Senesino) contrived to shape a favourable persona against gossip that had preceded him to London. In 1715 he was labelled a ‘conceited eunuch’ with ‘no respect for anyone’ and in 1719 he drew attention for ripping a score to pieces in a hot-headed rage. Desiring to combat unfavourable perceptions off stage, Senesino realised he could influence his reception by considerately constructing the characters he portrayed on stage.  To that end, the singer wielded influence to shape Muzio Scevola, Crispo, and especially La Griselda to best suit his talents and enhance his characters’ status.  The adjustments were successful, the Earl of Egmont imagined Senesino to be a ‘Man of excellent Sense’ based on his stage persona.

This talk demonstrates how Senesino favourably influenced his off-stage reception by modifying elements of music and drama in Bononcini’s London operas from 1720-1723. La Griselda presents a typical example of this mediation from Senesino: the number of arias for his role was nearly doubled and a pathos-filled scene playing to his strengths was added. Senesino modelled his fame-crafting intervention on observations of the castrato Nicolini in Italy and the prima donna Anastasia Robinson in London.  Finally, a comparison of Crispo and La Griselda illustrates that a seventeenth-century theatrical convention was employed whereby Senesino’s dramatic prowess was showcased in his alternating depiction of differing character types in these paired operas.

[original CFP follows]

Friday 24th November 2017 at the Foundling Museum, London.
Offers of contributions to the programme are invited. We encourage proposals for presentations focusing on all aspects of music in 18th-century Britain.  As well as formal papers we can accommodate formats such as round tables, reports on work-in-progress, lecture-recitals and performance. Proposals should be approximately 250 words.  The length of the paper or presentation is normally limited to 30 minutes, but longer or shorter formats will be considered.  Collaborative or related topic papers are also welcomed.

Please submit your abstract by e-mail to ; be sure to include your name, address or institution, telephone, and email address in the body of the message.  All submissions will be acknowledged by a return email.

Closing date for submissions is Thursday 28 September 2017. Please alert interested parties or those not necessarily on email.

Full conference details will follow shortly afterwards.