Feb 20

Those Ladies and Gentlemen who honour the Oratorios at Covent Garden Theatre with their Presence this Season, are desired to take Notice that the Manner of letting the Boxes for those Performances having been found to be attended with many Inconveniences[,] Places for the Oratorios are to be taken of Mr. Sarjant (only) at the Stage Door of the Theatre as on common Play Nights.[1]




Feb 21

An elegant new Building for the Orchestra on the Stage is preparing for the Performance of the Oratorios this Season at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden, under the Direction of Messrs. Toms and Arnold.[2]




Feb 23

Messrs. Smith and Stanley request the Favour of those Ladies and Gentlemen who intend honouring the Oratorios with their Presence at Drury-Lane Theatre the ensuing Season, to send for Tickets for the Boxes to Mr. Johnson, at the Stage-Door of the Theatre.  The Managers of the Opera have been so obliging to give their Consent for Sig. Gaudagni [sic] to sing with Messrs. Smith and Stanley, and they have engaged Mr. Norris of Oxford to perform the principal Tenor Part.[3]




Feb 24

Mr. Rodolpho, a celebrated Musician in the Service of the Duke of Orleans, lately arrived from Paris, whose extraordinary Performances on the French Horn have been so highly applauded at Almack’s, is engaged to perform a Concert on every Friday; and Mr. Fisher, the eminent Hautboy, on every Wednesday during the ensuing Oratorio Season, at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden.  The Band will be led by Mr. Giardini, who will also perform a Solo or Concerto between the Parts of every Evening Entertainment.[4]




Feb 27

YORK ORATORIOS. / AT the Theatre Royal; immediately after the Assizes (which begins the 24th of March) will be performed by a numerous Band of Music, / The Oratorios of / SAMSON, ISRAEL in BABYLON, and the MESSIAH / Several of the most principal Performers in the Kingdom will be engaged. / Particulars will be timely advertised. / F The Managers sensible of the Obligations received from the Public last Year, assure them that no Care or Expence shall be wanting to render the above Performance as compleat as possible.[5]




Feb 28

We doubt not but it will be highly agreeable to all Lovers of Music to be informed, that Mr. Tenducci is engaged as a Performer in the Oratorios at Covent Garden.[6]




Mar 1

Between the Parts of the Oratorio of the Messiah, which is to be performed To-morrow at Covent Garden Theatre, will be a Solo by Mr. Giardini, and a Concerto by Mr. Rodolpho, lately arrived from Paris, whose extraordinary Performances on the French Horn have been received with the greatest Applause at the Concert at Almack’s.[7]




Mar 2

The new Organ erected for the Managers of the Oratorio’s, at the Theatre Royal Drury-Lane, is built by Mr. John Byfield, Organ-Builder in Ordinary to his Majesty, and Mr. Samuel Green.[8]




Mar 2

Last Night was perform’d at the Theatre Royal, Covent-Garden, to a numerous and brilliant Audience, the Oratorio of the Messiah, under the Direction of Messrs. Toms and Arnold.—The elegant new Building for the Orchestra on the Stage was design’d and painted by Mr. Dall[.]—After the first Part of the Oratorio was a Solo by Mr. Giardini; and after the second Part a Concerto by the celebrated Mr. Rodolpho, where extraordinary Performances on the French Horn are universally allowed to have carried that Instrument to a Degree of Perfection of which it has hitherto been thought incapable.  The vocal Performers were, Mr. Reinhold, Mr. Vernon, Mrs. Mattocks, Mrs. Barthelemon, and Sig. Tenducci.  The Chorusses were allowed to be remarkably well filled, and the whole of the Performance received with the greatest Applause.[9]




Mar 5

By particular Desire of several Ladies, Servants will be admitted to keep Places in the Front as well as Side Boxes on the Oratorio Nights at the above Theatre [i.e. Covent Garden].  Tickets and Places to be had of Mr. Sarjant only at the Stage Door.[10]




Mar 6

A sacred Oratorio, never performed, intitled The Resurrection, with entire new Music, composed by Mr. Arnold, is now in Rehearsal, and will speedily be produced at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden.[11]




Mar 10

The new Oratorio of the Resurrection, composed by Mr. Arnold, was performed at the Theatre Royal, Covent-Garden, last Night, and received with universal Applause; and the celebrated Oratorio, called La Passione, translated and adapted to the original Musick, composed by Signor Niccolo Jomelli, is in Rehearsal at the same Theatre, with additional Chorusses, by Leo[,] Graun, and other eminent Masters.[12]




Mar 10


                  LAST night the new sacred Oratorio, called the Resurrection, set to music by Mr. Arnold, was performed, for the first time, at the theatre-royal in Covent-garden, to a very splendid audience, who expressed uncommon satisfaction at the composition.  The performers were Mr. Tenducci, Mrs. Bartholemon, Mrs. Mattocks, Messrs. Vernon and a young Gentleman (Mr. Bellamy) lately one of the King’s scholars, who undertook the part allotted to Mr. Rhein[h]old at a very short notice, as the last mentioned Gentleman was indisposed.

                  Mr[.] Tenducci and Mrs. Bartholemon were greatly admired; and the latter was repeatedly encored in her last song, which was allowed one of the most elegant pieces of musical expression that has hitherto appeared.[13]




Mar 13

Those Ladies and Gentlemen who have taken Places at the Theatre Royal, Covent-garden, for the new Oratorio of The Resurrection, composed by Mr. Arnold, may depend on having d[u]e Notice of the Nights of its being perform’d.[14]




Mar 14

Mr. Reinhold is so well recovered from his late Indisposition as to be able to sing in the Oratorio of Samson This [sic] Evening at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden.[15]




Mar 20

Those Ladies and Gentlemen who have taken Places at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden for the new Oratorio of the Resurrection, are requested to take Notice that it will be performed (for the second Time) on Friday.  With a Solo on the Violin by Mr. Giardini, and a Concerto on the French Horn by Mr. Rodolpho.[16]




Mar 21

MUSIC. / THE Week after next will be ready to deliver to the Subscribers, The Complete Score of Jephtha: And soon after will be ready for Sale, The Complete Score of L’Allegro Il Penseroso.  Both composed by Mr. Handel. / Printed for William Randall, Successor to the late Mr. J. Walsh, in Catherine-street, in the Strand. [...][17]




Mar 21

A young Lady, of twelve Years old, is under the Tuition of a celebrated Master of Music, who can, at this Time, go a Note higher than any of her Sex who have ever appeared in public.[18]




Mar 22

Yesterday the Right Hon. the Lord Mayor gave a most splendid Entertainment at the Mansion-House to a very numerous, though a select Number of Persons of both Houses of Parliament.... / Amongst other Loyal and Patriotic Toasts, the following, after Silence for each was proclaimed by Sound of Trumpet, were drank; and the Pieces of Music performed with the utmost Elegance and Approbation. / [...] / Coronation Anthem by Mr. Handel. / [...] / Overture by Mr. Handel. [...][19]




Mar 23

Between the Parts of the Oratorio of The Resurrection, which is to be performed this Evening at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden, Mr. Tenducci will sing the favourite Song which was so much approved on Wednesday.[20]




Mar 26

The new Oratorio of The Resurrection will be performed at the Theatre Royal in Covent-Garden (for the 3d Time) on Friday next, of which those Ladies and Gentlemen who have taken Places for that Performance are requested to take Notice.[21]




Mar 27

To the Printer of the Public Advertiser.


IF you can find Room among your numerous political Essays for a Musical Anecdote, the following is at your Service.

UPON the Death of that exalted Genius Mr. Handel, some Professors and Lovers of Music were talking of his Works and unanimously agreed that his Chorusses far excelled those of all other Composers, and that he had carried that Stile of Music to a Degree of Perfection it had never before attained, at the same Time regretting his Loss, and that they could hear no more of those inimitable Productions.  One of the Company said he thought there were Materials in Mr. Handel’s instrumental Works which might be formed into Chorusses little inferior to some of the most celebrated of that great Author.  This was looked upon as a wild chimerical Idea, laughed at, and pronounced to be impracticable: However, at his Leisure the Projector tried the Experiment, and produced to them several Fugues from Mr. Handel’s Concertos wrought into Chorusses.  The Professors to whom they were shewn were surprised and convinced, and wished to have them introduced into some Performance to hear the Effect.  An Oratorio was the only Thing they could with Propriety be a Part of: These, with the Addition of more Chorusses from the Anthems which Mr. Handel composed for the Duke of Chandos, Songs and Duettos from his Operas, and some favourite Movements from his instrumental Pieces, produced Israel in Babylon.  It was twice performed at the King’s Theatre in the Haymarket, for the Benefit of decayed Musicians and their Families, and received with universal Approbation, and it is esteemed the best Compilation that has been made from the Works of that great Master.





Mar 29

To the Printer of the Public Advertiser. / SIR, / ALLOW me, Mr. Printer, to give your Readers some Account of a new Oratorio, which bids fair (as Musical Productions ever advance in public Esteem, if they have Merit, the more they are heard) to stand at least upon a Par with the most Capital of those Kind of Entertainments.  I need not add, ’tis the Resurrection I mean: Your Readers would have named it for me. / The Words of this Oratorio, like those of the Messiah, are compiled from Scripture; the Music also, like that celebrated Production, excels in the Pathetic; and, in the Grandeur, and even Sublimity of it’s [sic] Chorusses, the Design of the Compiler is set forth in the Argument; and Mr. Arnold has well availed himself of those Advantages the Subject afforded him: It is almost Injustice to this admirable Composition, to attempt pointing out it’s [sic] particular Excellencies. / The second Song, “Although the Fig-Tree shall not blossom;” the next, “Lo! this is our God,” and the last Chorus of the first Part, were received with unusual Applause.  From the Song of Tenducci’s, “He was oppressed”, to the End of the second Part, the Audience seemed wholly engaged: The most affecting Scenes of the Drama never commanded a more general Attention, or more hearty Approbation: It could only be equalled [sic] by that which accompanied, “Violence no more shall be heard in thy Borders;” and the following Song in the third Part, and the concluding Chorus. / Let me add, that these Compilations, from Scripture, are of particular Use, as they keep those Writings (which are not wholly useless) from becoming utterly obsolete: Many People considering the Bible as a mere School-Book, of which they were heartily tired, read no Part of it any more but on such Occasions.  Of what infinite Advantage would it be to these People should they chance to recollect, that every Syllable they are so attentive to, is true, and of the most important Concern to themselves? / I am, SIR, / Your humble Servant. / SERIOUS.[23]




Mar 29

Mr. Rodolpho having been unexpectedly obliged to return to France, Mr. Crosdill is engaged to play a Solo on the Violoncello Tomorrow Evening between the Parts of the Oratorio of the Resurrection, at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden.[24]




Apr 4

The Oratorio of The Cure of Saul, which was intended to have been performed at the Theatre Royal in Covent Garden on Friday next, is obliged to be laid aside, a Repetition of the new Oratorio of The Resurrection having been particularly desired for that Evening, which will be the last of the present Season.[25]




Apr 5

MUSIC. / THIS Day is ready to deliver to the Subscribers, The Complete Score of the Oratorio called JEPHTHA.  And the latter End of this Month will be ready for Sale.  The Complete Score of L’Allegro Il Penseroso.  Both composed by Mr. Handel. / Printed for William Randall, Successor to the late Mr. J. Walsh, in Catherine-street, in the Strand. / Of whom may be had, Proposals for Printing by Subscription, The complete Score of the Oratorio called, Israel in Egypt; as it was originally composed by Mr. Handel. / N. B. Just now publish’d, A new Edition of the complete Scores of Mr. Handel’s Works, printed on Imperial Paper.[26]




Apr 7

[first performance, 7 April 1770]


[Gaetano Guadagni’s dedication “To the Nobility and Gentry”]

                  The original Composer [i.e. Gluck] made himself a perfect master of his author’s [i.e. Calzabigi’s] meaning; and infused the genius of the poetry into his music; in which he followed the example of my great master Handel, the phoenix of our age; who in all modes of musical expression, where sense was to be conveyed, excelled beyond our praise.[27]




“Account of a very Remarkable Young Musician [= Mozart].”


[…]Having stated the above mentioned proofs of Mozart’s genius, when of almost an infantine age, it may not be improper perhaps to compare them with what hath been well attested with regard to other instances of the same sort. [... 287] The Rev. Mr. Manwaring [sic] (in his Memoirs of Handel) hath given us a still more apposite instance, and in the same science.

This great musician began to play on the clavichord when he was but seven years of age; and is said to have composed some church-services when he was only nine years old, as also the opera of Almeria when he did not exceed fourteen.

Mr. Manwaring likewise mentions that Handel, when very young, was struck sometimes whilst in bed with musical ideas; and that, like Mozart, he used to try their effect immediately on a spinnet, which was in his bedchamber.

I am the more glad to state this short comparison between these two early prodigies in music, as it may be hoped that little Mozart may possibly attain to the same advanced years as Handel, contrary to the common observation, that such ingenia praecocia are generally short-lived.

I think I may say without prejudice to the memory of this great composer, that the scale most clearly preponderates on the side of [288] Mozart in this comparison, as I have already stated that he was a composer when he did not much exceed the age of four.


Jan. 21, 1780.

On this republication of what appeared in the LXth [1770] volume of the Philosophical Transactions, it may be right to add, that Mozart (though a German) hath been honoured by the pope with an order of merit called the Golden Spur, and hath composed operas in several parts of Italy.[28]




“Account of Mr. Charles Wesley.” [Bristol, 1757-]


A gentleman carried him next to Mr. Stanley, who expressed much pleasure and surprize at hearing him, and declared he had never met one of his age [a little over than 4] with so strong propensity to music.  The gentleman told us, he never before believed what Handel used to tell him of himself, and his own love of music, in his childhood.



[Rev. Charles Wesley’s account of his son Samuel:] Samuel was born on St. Matthias’s Day, Feb. 24, 1766, (the same day which gave birth to Handel 82 years before). [291] As his brother employed the evenings in Handel’s Oratorios, Sam was always at his elbow, listening and joining with his voice.  Nay, he would sometimes presume to find fault with his playing when we thought he could know nothing of the matter.

He was between four and five years old when he got hold of the oratorio of Samson, and by that alone taught himself to read words, soon after he taught himself to write.  From this time he sprung up like a mushroom, and when turned of five could read [293] perfectly well; and had all the airs, recitatives, and choruses of Samson and the Messiah, both words and notes, by heart.

Whenever he heard his brother begin to play, he would tell us whose music it was, (whether Handel, Corelli, Scarlatti, or any other) and what part of what lesson, sonata, or overture.

Before he could write he composed much music.  His custom was, to lay the words of an oratorio before him, and sing them all over.  Thus he set (extempore for the most part) Ruth, Gideon, Manasses, and the Death of Abel.  We observed, when he repeated the same words, it was always to the same tunes.  The airs of Ruth in particular he made before he was six years old, laid them up in his memory till he was eight, and then wrote them down.

He was full eight years old when Dr. Boyce came to see us; and accosted me with, “Sir, I hear you have got an English Mozart in your house: young Linley tells me wonderful things of him.”  I called Sam to answer for himself.  He had by this time scrawled down his Oratorio of Ruth.  The doctor looked over it very carefully, and seemed highly pleased with the performance. [... 294] As soon as Sam had quite finished his Oratorio he sent it as a present to the Doctor, who immediately honoured him with the following note: [...]

He returned with us to London greatly improved in his playing.  There I allowed him a month for learning all Handel’s Overtures.  He played them over to me in three days.  Handel’s Concertos he learnt with equal ease; and some of his Lessons, and Scarlatti’s.  Like Charles, he mastered the hardest music without any pains or difficulty. [295] He borrowed his Ruth to transcribe for Mr. Madan.  Parts of it he played at Lord D’s, who rewarded him with some of Handel’s Oratorios.

Mr. Madan now began carrying him about to his musical friends.  He played several times at Mr. W’s, to many of the nobility, and some eminent masters and judges of music.[...]

Lord B. Lord A. Lord D. Sir W. W. and other lovers of Handel, were highly delighted with him, and encouraged him to hold fast his veneration for Handel, and the old music.  But old or new was all one to Sam, so it was but good.  Whatever was presented he played at sight, and made variations on any tune: [296] and as often as he played it again made new variations.  He imitated every author’s stile, whether Bach, Handel, Schobert, or Scarlatti himself.[...]

Between eight and nine he was brought through the small-pox by Mr. Br—’s assistance; whom he therefore promised to reward with his next Oratorio.[...]

Nothing could exceed his punctuality.  No company, no persuasion, could keep him up beyond his time.  He never could be prevailed on or hear any opera or concert by night.  The moment the clock gave warning for eight, away ran Sam, in the midst of his most favourite music.  Once in the playhouse he rose up after the first part of the Messiah, with, “Come, Mamma, let us go home, or I shan’t be in bed by eight.” [297 ...] Mr. Madan brought Dr. N. to my house, who could not believe that a boy could write an oratorio, play at sight, and pursue any given subject.

[Barrington’s comments:] [302] He was able to sing at sight...from the time of first knowing his notes; [... 303] his more favourite songs were those of Handel, composed for a base voice, as “Honour and Arms,” &c. [303] [when a march of his was performed by one of the regiments of guards, he corrected their mistakes and] ordered the march to be play’d again, which they submitted to with as much deference as they would have shewn to Handel. [304] If left to himself when he played on the organ, there were oftener traces of Handel’s stile than any other master, and if on the harpsichord, of Scarlatti; [304] He would as readily compose a song proper for the serious or comic opera the instant it was requested, particularly the airs of Handel for a base voice. [305, note] His father, the Rev. Mr. Wesley, will permit any one to see the score of his Oratorio of Ruth, which he really composed at six years of age, but did not write till he was eight; his quickness in thus giving utterance to his musical ideas is amazingly great; and, notwithstanding the rapidity, he seldom makes a blot or a mistake. [307][29]




37.  The Passion: an Oratorio.  As performed at the Theatre-Royal in Covent-Garden.  8vo.  Pr. 1s.  Griffin.

                  ‘Passion, and pathos, totally forgot.’[30]




Jul 1

[Thomas Chatterton to Thomas Cary, 1 July 1770.]



You accuse me of Partiality in my Panegyric on Mr Allen.  Pardon me, my Dear Friend, but I believe there are few, very few in Bristol who know what Musick is.  Broderip, has No Taste, at least no real Taste [… 641 …] Broderip is an Exact Copy of these Ornamental Carvers, his Genius runs parallel with theirs, and his Music is always disgraced with littleness flowers, and Flourishes.  What A Clash of Harmony Allen Dashes upon the Soul!  How prettily Broderip tickles their Fancy by winding the Same dull tune over again.  How Astonishingly Great is Allen when Playing An Overture from Handel, How absurdly ridiculous is Broderip when blundering in new modelling the Notes of that Great Genius, and how emptily Amusing, when torturing and twisting airs, which he has Stolen from Italian Operas.[31]




Jul 6

[MS date: 6 July 1770.]





For you, ye fair, whose heavenly charms,

Make all my arrows useless arms;

For you shall Handel’s lofty flight

Clash on the list’ning ear of night,

And the soft melting sinking lay

In gentle accents die away:

And not a whisper shall appear,

Which modesty would blush to hear.[32]


[note from Meyerstein: apposite allusion to Handel for the setting of Marybone Gardens.  Because “It was in these Gardens that Dr. John Fountayne of the Manor House School, being asked by Handel his opinion of an air the band was playing, said, “It’s very poor stuff,” to which Handel replied, “You are right, Mr. Fountayne, it is very poor stuff.  I thought so myself when I had finished it.” (399, n.) See Thomas Smith, History of Marylebone, p. 34][33]






At Salisbury music-meeting, in July, 1770, Miss Linley while singing the air in the oratorio of the Messiah, “I know that my Redeemer liveth,” a little bulfinch, that had found means by some accident or other to secret itself in the cathedral, was so struck with the inimitable [274] sweetness, and harmonious simplicity of her manner of singing, that, mistaking it for the voice of a feathered chorister of the wood, and far from being intimidated by the numerous assemblage of spectators, it perched immediately on the gallery over her head, and accompanied her with the musical warblings of its little throat through great part of the song.  This was perceived by all present with great satisfaction and pleasure, and considered as the strongest proof in nature that could be produced of the excellence of Miss Linley’s merit, except a lunnerly, senseless fellow that played on the bassoon, who took aim with his instrument, as with a gun, at the gallery, and the bird, immediately frightened—flew away.[34]




Jul 20

[Thomas Chatterton to unknown recipient, probably his sister, 20 July 1770.]



I am now about an Oratorio, which, when finished, will purchase you a gown.[35]




[Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in France and Italy]


Electricity is universally allowed to be a very entertaining and surprising phenomenon, but it has frequently been [4] lamented that it has never yet, with much certainty, been applied to any very useful purpose.  The same reflexion has often been made, no doubt, as to music.  It is a charming resource, in an idle hour, to the rich and luxurious part of the world.  But say the sour and the worldly, what is its use to the rest of mankind?  To this it may be answered, that, in England, perhaps more than in any other country, it is easy to point out the humane and important purposes to which it has been applied.  Its assistance has been called in by the most respectable profession in this kingdom, in order to open the purses of the affluent for the support of the distressed offspring of their deceased brethren *.  Many an orphan is cherished by its influence .—The pangs of child-birth are softened and rendered less dangerous [5] and dreadful by the effects of its power *. It helps, perhaps, to stop the ravages of a disease which attacks the very source of life .  And, lastly, it enables its own professors to do what few others can boast—to maintain their own poor: by that admirable and well-directed institution, known by the name of The Society for the Support of decayed Musicians and their Families.* [3-5]


Jun 14

[Paris, Thursday 14 June.  Impressions from attending a concert Spirituel. The piece he criticizes is Beatus Vir, a motet in grand chorus]


But the last chorus was a finisher with a vengeance! It surpassed, in clamour, all the noises I had ever heard in my life.  I have frequently thought the choruses of our oratorios rather too loud and violent; but, compared with these, they are soft music, such as might sooth and lull to sleep the heroine of a tragedy.



Jun 15

[Paris, Friday 15 June.]


But it seems to be with the serious French opera here, as it is with our oratorios in England; people are tired of the old by hearing them so often; the style has been pushed perhaps to its utmost [33] boundary, and is exhausted; and yet they cannot relish any new attempts at pleasing them in a different way: what is there in this world not subject to change? [32-33]


Jul 20

[Friday 20 July.]


The singing, though in general rather better than at our oratorios, was by no means so good as we often hear in England at the Italian opera.



Aug 9

[Venice, 9 August.]


There was music this evening at the church of St. Laurence, composed and directed by Signor Sacchini, at which, as it was the vigil of this saint, there was a great crowd.  I suffered, as well as every one else, too much by the heat, perhaps, to be easily pleased, and the composition seemed rather more common than that I had heard of this ingenious master before; however, the vocal parts were not so well performed, as there were no other singers than those of St. Mark’s church, who most excel in mere church music, accompanied only by the organ.  The voices were not good enough for long solo parts, nor strong enough to get through a large band; however there were many very pleasing and agreeable movements, and some of the choruses [157] were well worked in the fugue and oratorio way.  But for this kind of music, that of Handel will, I believe, ever stand superior to all other writers; at least I have heard nothing yet on the continent of equal force and effect.  There is often in the compositions of others, more melody in the solo parts, more delicacy, and more light and shade, but as to harmony and contrivance, no one comes near him by many degrees.  I must confess that I had heard some of Handel’s music so long, and often so ill performed, that I was somewhat tired and disgusted with it; but my Italian journey, instead of lowering the esteem I ever had for the best writings of that truly great artist, exalted them in my opinion, and at my return renewed my pleasure in hearing them performed.  As yet I had heard little but church music in Italy; however, in that stile, with instruments, all other compositions appeared feeble by comparison.  The subjects of the fugues were, in [158] general, trivial and common, and the manner of working them dry and artless.  Indeed the church stile, without instruments, except the organ, was well known in Italy, and all over Europe, long before Handel’s time; and melody is certainly much refined since: it is more graceful, more pathetic, and even more gay; but for counter-point, fugues, and choruses of many voices, with instruments, I repeat it, I neither have heard, nor do I ever expect to hear him equaled.



Aug 12

[Venice, Sunday 12 August]


If we compare the music of Mr. Handel’s first oratorios with the operas he composed about the same time, it will appear that the airs of the one are often as gay as those of the other.  And as to the choruses of an opera, which are all to be in action, and performed by memory, they must of course be shorter and less laboured than those of an oratorio, where every singer has his part before him, and where a composer is allowed sufficient time to display his abilities in every species of what is called by musicians good writing.



Aug 25

[Bologna, Saturday 25 August.]


[Farinelli] repeated a conversation he had with Queen Caroline, about Cuzzoni and Faustina; and gave me an account of his first performance at court to his late majesty George the IId. in which he was accompanied on the harpsichord by the princess royal, afterwards princess of Orange, who insisted on his singing two of Handel’s songs at sight, printed in a different clef, and composed in a different stile from what he had ever been used to.  He told me of his journey into the country with the Duke and Duchess of Leeds, and with Lord Cobham; of the feuds of the two operas; of the part which the late Prince of Wales took with that managed by the nobility; and the Queen [217] and Princess Royal with that which was under the direction of Handel.



Sep 25

[Rome, 25 September.]


Signor Santarelli obliged me with extracts from two MS. Volumes of curious anecdotes, and passages from old and scarce books relative to music […] I must add to these favours, that of procuring me some of the most curious and scarce printed books which I sought at Rome: it was owing to his friendly zeal likewise, that, after three weeks spent in vain by myself and friends there, in search of the first oratorio that was ever set to music, I at length got a sight and copy of it […]





Oct 17-18

[Charles Burney to David Garrick, 17{-18} October 1770]


{…} I have found out the Music of the 1st Opera & 1st Oratorio that ever were set to Music—{…}[37]



Oct 26

[Naples, 26 October]


Friday 26.  This morning I first had the pleasure of seeing and conversing with Signor Jomelli, who arrived at Naples from the country but the night before.  He is extremely corpulent, and, in the face, not unlike what I remember Handel to have been, yet far more polite and soft in his manner.



Nov 11

[Rome, 11 November.]


In the afternoon I went to the Chiesa Nuova, to hear an oratorio in that church, where the sacred drama took its rise.  There are two galleries; in one there is an organ, and in the other a harpsichord; in the former the service was begun by the matins in four parts, alla Palestrina; then the Salve Regina was sung a voce sola, after which there were prayers; and then a little boy, not above six years old, mounted the pulpit, and delivered a discourse, by way of sermon, which he had got by heart, and which was rendered truly ridiculous by the vehicle through which it passed.  The oratorio of Abigail, set to music by Signor Casali, was then performed.  This drama consisted of four characters, and was divided into two parts.  The two first [364] movements of the overture pleased me very much, the last not at all.  It was, as usual, a minuet degenerated into a jigg of the most common cast.  This rapidity in the minuets of all modern overtures renders them ungraceful at an opera, but in a church they are indecent.  The rest of the music was pretty common place, for though it could boast of no new melody or modulation, it had nothing vulgar in it.

[… 365 …] Between the two parts of this oratorio, there was a sermon by a Jesuit, delivered from the same pulpit from whence the child had descended.  I waited to hear the last chorus, which, though it was sung by book, was as light and as unmeaning as an opera chorus, which must be got by heart.  With respect to a true oratorio chorus accompanied with instruments in the manner of Handel’s, I heard but few all the time I was in Italy.





Dec 25



On a blank Leaf of WEBB’s Beauties of Poetry, Painting, &c.




TO cultivate the Arts inclin’d,

Their Beauties skill’d to trace,

Bespeaks a liberal polish’d Mind;

Exists not in the base.


Perusing Shakespear’s lofty Thought,

Or what a Raphael drew,

By something Heavenly are we caught,

And learn to be so too.


Alike, when Handel’s magic Strains

The listening Soul invite,

Delight in every Bosom reigns,

And Virtue with Delight.


This, WEBB in every Page displays,

Himself the living Test;

And, rendering others ample Praise,

His own stands forth confess’d.

[… 150 …]

WATERSTOWN, Tuesday, Dec. 25th, 1770.[39]




Chapter V.  Comparative Degrees of Movement.  Of the Titles of entire Pieces.


124.  The following titles of entire pieces deserve to be taken notice of, before we finish this Chapter.


An Oratorio is a kind of spiritual opera.  The music is in a stile suitable for religious purposes, and the subject taken from some part of the Scripture history.[40]




CHORUS, that part of a piece of Musick where the Voices and Instruments perform all together, which is commonly at the conclusion.  In Oratorios the Choruses are intermixed with the Songs, Recitatives, &c.


DIALOGUE, a composition for two or more Voices or Instruments, which answer one another, and which frequently uniting at the close make a Trio with the Thorough Bass.  It is much used by the Italians in their Operas, Oratorios, Serenatas, &c.


DRUM, is an instrument in the form of cylinder, hollow within, and covered at the two ends with parchment to make it sound; one of the ends is struck with a stick; and there are braces on the sides, whereby the sound may be rendered higher or lower, as when it is played on in Operas, Oratorios, or Concerts, two Drums are used, the one to strike the key or fundamental Note, and the other a Fifth below it, which are the two only Notes used.


MUSICK […] In short, we may venture to say, from what we find wrote on this subject, that Musick did not begin to arrive [65] at any tolerable degree of perfection ’till towards the end of the last century, when the inimitable Correlli, and the great Purcel, obliged the world with their most agreeable and harmonical compositions; then it was that Musick begun to advance apace, and receive various improvements from many other ingenious composers and performers of several nations, but in particular the Italians and English.  And for these thirty or forty years last past it is amazing what number have applied themselves to this art; among whom the excellent Mr. Handel himself, deservedly named the prince of musicians, both for his compositions and performance on the Organ and Harpsichord, has abundantly and wonderfully performed his part.


ORATORIO, a sort of sacred drama of dialogue; containing Recitatives, Duettos, Trios, Ritornellos, Chorusses, &c.  The subject of the piece is generally taken from the scriptures, or life of some saint, &c.  The Musick for the Oratorios should be in the finest taste, and best chosen strains.  They are much used at Rome in time of Lent; and of late in England, the inimitable Handel being the instrument of bringing them to the greatest perfection ever known; his Oratorios being most assuredly the finest and best in the world.


STYLE, denotes a peculiar manner of singing, or playing, or composing; being properly the manner that each person has of playing, singing, or teaching, which is very different, both in respect of different geniuses, of countries, nations, and of the different matters, places, times, subjects, passions, expressions, &c.  This we say the style of Corelli, Handel, Lully, &c.[41]




George Frederick Handel.

This statue of that great master of music is finely executed.  The book of the Messiah lies open, in that part where is the much admired air, For I know that my Redeemer liveth.  He died in 1759, aged 75[.][42]




ORATORIO, is a sacred poem, set to Music or a spiritual Opera, and should be performed only in Churches.[43]



[1] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 20 February 1770, [2]; repr., Thursday 22 February 1770, [2].

[2] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 21 February 1770, [2].

[3] The Public Advertiser, Friday 23 February 1770, [2].

[4] The Public Advertiser, Saturday 24 February 1770, [2].

[5] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 27 February 1770, [1]; repr., Saturday 3 March 1770, [1].

[6] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 28 February 1770, [2].

[7] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 1 March 1770, [2].

[8] The Public Advertiser, Friday 2 March 1770, [2].

[9] The Public Advertiser, Saturday 3 March 1770, [3].

[10] The Public Advertiser, Monday 5 March 1770, [3].

[11] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 6 March 1770, [2].

[12] The Public Advertiser, Saturday 10 March 1770, [3].

[13] The Independent Chronicle, Friday 9 March – Monday 12 March 1770, [2].

[14] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 13 March 1770, [3].

[15] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 14 March 1770, [2].

[16] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 20 March 1770, [2].

[17] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 21 March 1770, [1].

[18] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 21 March 1770, [2].

[19] The Public Advertiser, Friday 23 March 1770, [2]; repr., The Oxford Magazine: Or, Universal Museum 4 (January-June 1770): 118.

[20] The Public Advertiser, Friday 23 March 1770, [2].

[21] The Public Advertiser, Monday 26 March 1770, [2].

[22] The Public Advertiser, Tuesday 27 March 1770, [2].

[23] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 29 March 1770, [2].

[24] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 29 March 1770, [2.

[25] The Public Advertiser, Wednesday 4 April 1770, [2].

[26] The Public Advertiser, Thursday 5 April 1770, [1]; repr., Friday 6 April 1770, [1] and later.

[27] Ranieri de Calzabigi, Orfeo ed Euridice, Orpheus and Eurydice; An Opera, in the Grecian Taste (London: W. Griffin, 1770), [2].

[28] Daines Barrington, Miscellanies (London: J. Nichols, 1781), 286-88.

[29] Daines Barrington, Miscellanies (London: J. Nichols, 1781), 290-307.

[30] The Critical Review 29 (January-June 1770): 480.

[31] Thomas Chatterton, The Complete Works of Thomas Chatterton: A Bicentenary Edition, ed. Donald S. Taylor with Benjamin B. Hoover, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 1:640-41.

[32] Thomas Chatterton, The Revenge, A Burletta; Acted at Marybone Gardens, MDCCLXX.  With Additional Songs (London: C. Roworth, 1795), 38.

[33] Thomas Chatterton, The Complete Works of Thomas Chatterton: A Bicentenary Edition, ed. Donald S. Taylor with Benjamin B. Hoover, 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 1:630.

[34] The Macaroni and Theatrical Magazine, or Monthly Register, of the Fashions and Diversions of the Times 1 (October 1772 – September 1773): 273-74 [March].

[35] NOTE: I have been unable to verify the quotation in G. Gregory, The Life of Thomas Chatterton, with Criticisms on his Genius and Writings, and a Concise View of the Controversy concerning Rowley’s Poems (London: G. Kearsley, 1789), 263.

* At the Feast of the Sons of the Clergy.

The Messiah is annually performed for the benefit of the Foundling Hospital.

* The benefit every year for the Lying-in-Hospital, Brownlow street.

The musical performance for the Lock Hospital.

[36] Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in France and Italy: Or, The Journal of a Tour through those Countries, undertaken to collect Materials for A General History of Music (London: T. Becket, 1771).

[37] The Letters of Dr Charles Burney.  Volume I: 1751-1784, ed. Alvaro Ribeiro, SJ (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991), 65; repr., David Garrick, The Private Correspondence of David Garrick with the Most Celebrated Persons of his Time, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley, 1831), 1:404.

[38] Charles Burney, The Present State of Music in France and Italy: Or, The Journal of a Tour through those Countries, undertaken to collect Materials for A General History of Music (London: T. Becket, 1771), 316, 363-65.

[39] Samuel Whyte, The Shamrock: Or, Hibernian Cresses.  A Collection of Poems, Songs, Epigrams, &c. Latin as well as English, The Original Production of Ireland (Dublin: R. Marchbank, 1772), 149-50; also in A Collection of Poems, The Productions of the Kingdom of Ireland: Selected from a Collection published in that Kingdom (London: S. Bladon, 1773), 204-06.

[40] John Holden, An Essay towards a Rational System of Music (Glasgow: Robert Urie, 1770), 43.

[41] John Hoyle, Dictionarium Musica, being a Complete Dictionary: Or, Treasury of Music (London: the author, 1770), 14, 25, 30, 64-65, 70, 96.

[42] A Description of Westminster Abbey, Its Monuments and Curiosities (Brentford: P. Norbury, [?1770]), 85.

[43] Lew. C. A. Granom, Plain Easy Instructions.  For the German Flute (London: T. Bennett, [ca 1770]), 113.