Photo: Courtesy of BBC Radio 3
Battle of Dettingen
Twenty years into his tenure as court composer to the King of England, George Frideric Handel composed a special piece of music, the anthem The King shall rejoice. Also known as the Dettingen Anthem, it was composed along with a Te Deum to celebrate the allied Austrian and British victory over the French in the Battle of Dettingen, one of many battles of the War of the Austrian Succession in which England supported Maria Theresa of Austria.
Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle
The War of the Austrian Succession came to a conclusion in 1748 with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which spawned celebrations in many countries.
In France, the treaty was the impetus for Jean-Philippe Rameau to compose the opera Naïs. The English Bach Festival Singers and Baroque Orchestra perform Rameau’s masterpiece on a release from Erato Records.
While Rameau had composed an opera in France, Handel did something on a smaller scale yet grand in design. He composed music to accompany a display that included a specially built fireworks machine and fire pictures of an allegorical nature. During the premier performance, the fireworks pavilion caught on fire, a confrontation between the two in charge of the fireworks and pictures broke out, and, on top of everything, it rained! Nevertheless, the Royal Fireworks Music was performed successfully…without fiddles.
The English Concert performs the work in its original 1749 orchestration on the Archiv release entitled Handel, Music for the Royal Fireworks.
Music for a Spanish wedding
When a young Louis XIV married the Infata Maria Teresa in 1660, a treaty was forged between France and Spain, known as the Treaty of the Pyrenees. Unfortunately, Spain could not afford the dowry promised in the treaty and political intrigue ensued. In Spain, composer Juan Hidalgo produced two operas in celebration of the Infanta’s wedding. Of the two, Celos aun del aire matan is the only one that survives. The title translates as “Jealousy, even from the air, kills.”
The Newberry Consort performs Hidalgo’s opera on the HMU recording, ¡Ay Amor!.
Battle of the Organs
A relatively unknown battle took place in London from 1682-1688. The “Battle of the Organs,” as it was called, was a contest to see who could build the better organ for Temple Church. Two organs were erected, and both builders selected some of the best organists to represent their instruments, including both John Blow and Henry Purcell.
Father Bernard Smith was the victor, and it is not known if there was any musical celebration on his part. So, on Harmonia, we’ll take a moment to celebrate him. The New Chamber Opera Ensemble, directed by Gary Cooper, performs organ music by Henry Purcell on the CD release entitled The Greshman Autograph.
Our new release this week features the solo lute music of John Dowland. Entitled Fancyes, Dreams and Spirits, it is performed by English lutenist Nigel North. The CD is the first volume in an upcoming series to record all of Dowland’s music.