When we think of New Year’s Day, many traditional images come to mind: the sights and sounds of fireworks, the counting down of the final seconds before midnight, and the numerous parties held in celebration of the ending of the year and beginning of a new one. These are among the many events that take place around the world in order to observe an important day in our lives.
If we look back at the last couple of millennia, not much has changed by way of celebrating January 1st.
An unusual kind of New Year’s celebration occurred in church during the middle ages. January 1st was better known as the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ. In France, the normal celebration of mass by the clergy was turned upside down. Young people were chosen to take role of clergy and parody the Church’s rites and customs. Presided over by sub-deacons, the semi-dramatic event was a festival known as The Feast of Fools, which traced its origins to pre-Christian pagan rituals.
Baude Cordier and Guillaume Dufay were two composers from the late-middle ages who wrote songs typical of their day, which included ones in praise of January 1st.
The German baroque is replete with celebratory music for January 1st, no place more so than the churches of Lutheran and Catholic traditions.
Our new release of the week comes from the Dorian/Sono Luminus label. Baroque flutist Stephen Schultz is the featured performer in Boismortier’s complete concertos for five flutes, op. 13.
Here's a video of Stephen Schultz performing the first movement from Boismortier's Concerto in D major, op. 15, no. 3: