Saturday, 19 September 2009

What did the charcoal hawker start ...?

And where did Handel fit in or the ancient instrument: the trumpet? Just three hundred years ago we needed charcoal for our braziers, which were used to cook on and heat our lodgings, while light was supplied by candles – so charcoal hawkers were a necessary part of London life.

Music as an art was beginning to take shape. The word ‘concert’ (of which ‘concerto’ is the Italian form) means a performing together and was long used solely in that sense; in the late
1700s a concert was not an event in musical performance, but a combination of performers. It was at that time often an entertainment to be viewed, discussed, listened to – not necessarily, and not usually, as an artistic expression worthy in its own right.

A keyed trumpet at the Reid Concert Hall Museum of Instruments in Edinburgh.
It seems that the first actual paying concerts were started by John Banister, a London violinist in 1672 who, together with a few other performers, gave a programme daily at 4.00 in the afternoon in a sort of ‘tavern like’ atmosphere.

Thomas Britton, who by day hawked charcoal for a living round the streets of London, had converted his loft into a music-room, where, as a self-taught musician and scholar, who enjoyed the friendship of the most cultured people of his day, including many of the nobility, had installed the necessary musical apparatus, including a tiny organ of five stops, on which Handel was wont to play.
The Proms 2005. Most people sit, while Promenaders stand in front of the orchestra. The Royal Albert Hall Organ is in the background.

This man of humble origins, who carried sacks of charcoal to light braziers in people’s houses, was the originator in 1678 of a series of concerts that were held weekly for thirty six years until his death in1714. These concerts originally were free, until Britton charged ten shillings a year subscription and one penny for a cup of coffee (so coffee was ‘common’ by 1700). Ned Ward, a humorist of the day reported that “anybody that is willing to take a hearty Sweat may have the Pleasure of hearing many notable performers in the charming Science of Musick”.

The diverse aspects of early music spread, allowing different groupings of musicians to gather and play together, exposing not only their talents, but also their instruments to the music loving society of London in various taverns, music premises, theatres, meeting rooms, halls throughout the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
Stop knobs of the Baroque organ in Weingarten, Germany

The great courts of Europe employed a kapellmeister, designating a person in charge of music-making (kapelle means “choir”, “orchestra”, or literally “chapel”, and meister “master”). Bach, Handel, Haydn amongst other great composers established their reputations through these positions, while at this time there was a great inter-change of ideas across Europe, which allowed the kapellmeisters or freelancers (as Beethoven and Mozart preferred to remain) to influence music in the great cities at that time, of which London was one.

Haydn, in the 1790s, travelled twice to London to perform and conduct his compositions including the Concerto in E flat-Flat Major for Trumpet and Orchestra, which he had composed for his long standing friend, Anton Weidinger, an Austrian trumpet virtuoso in the classical era. Weidinger experimented with a 5-keyed trumpet, a version of the instrument on which a full chromatic scale became possible, before the introduction of the valve trumpet in the 19th century.
A Promenade concert in the Royal Albert Hall, 2004. The bust of Henry Wood can be seen in front of the organ.
During the 1800s concert performances became more and more popular ranging across the professional musicians’ genre: voice, instrumentation, solos, orchestra, church music etc. Numerous concert halls were built including Queen’s Hall, at which The Promenade Concerts (to be become popularly known as The Proms) were begun in 1895. Popular concerts for the public opened their ears to the possibilities of the orchestral classics, as well as making acquaintance with orchestral novelties via the annotated programmes supplied for the concerts.

The Proms, is an 8 week summer season of daily orchestral, classical music concerts held annually and predominantly in the Royal Albert hall, but now include chamber concerts at Cadogan hall and additional Proms in the Park events across the country. Jiri Belohlavek the Czech conductor, has described The Proms as “the world’s largest and most democratic musical festival”.

Last weekend the final night of The Proms 2009 was held; the BBC interlinking from the Royal Albert Hall to outside venues across Great Britain. Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto was once again played by Alison Balsom, an extremely talented leggy blonde, who has recently won the Classical Brit Award for her trumpet playing, and has made her mark in the fiercely competitive world of classical music; a fantastic achievement bearing in mind the fairly limited repertoire available for this instrument.

The trumpet, that dates back at least to Tutankhamun’s era (1300BC), when bronze and silver trumpets were found in his grave, and Alison Balsom’s splendid performance over 3,000 years later may not have come about except for men like, Thomas Britton, the charcoal hawker.

Handel, in 1710 had been appointed Kapellmeister to George, Elector of Hanover, and when George became King George I of Britain, travelled to London with his court where he joined the general cognoscenti’s acceptance that Britton, despite from humble origins, opened the musical doors to a much wider social audience, which continues to this day.
Alison Balsom's performance at The Proms 2009 - on You Tube

Hallo again Mr Postman - life has been tricky - my uncle has rather suddenly had to go into the hospice and I am now sleeping at his house, as well as generally looking after things for him .. my mother continues on and I relay messages backwards and forwards between the two hospitals! I think there's a life out there - is there?! So I'm grateful to you for delivering this letter to both my mother and my uncle. My uncle sadly cannot read any more - another challenge we need to help him with. I hope he'll be able to go home with care in place. We live each day as it comes. It's been gloriously sunny today here - a really hot balmy summer's day.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

20 comments:

Daphne @ Joyful Days said...

Hilary,

My heart goes out to you. I'm amazed you still manage to write these detailed posts with two people in two different hospitals to look after. It can't be easy, yet you manage. You're wonderful.

And since this post is about music, I hope that music is helping you through this difficult time as only music can...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Daphne .. we're surviving .. both patients are exemplars and not distressed or upset about anything .. my uncle today is not at all well, but seems content and knows things are being handled on his behalf.

I'm not really musical - I have no sense of rhythm and I find it distracting at times .. but I have it on occasionally. I am enjoying hearing the music friends recommend .. and now perhaps I have my iphone set up I can listen to more .. or podcasts. I'm happy with silence! Time to think.

Yes - music does help .. and I'll get myself organised sometime!! & I do love it ..

Thanks for coming by .. very much appreciated and your comments -Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Bob Weisenberg said...

What an interesting blog. Have you read the Mozart biography by Alfred Einstein? Based on your interest above, I think you'd really enjoy it.

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. thanks for coming over - good to see you here. I haven't read the Mozart biography .. just added it to my list of books to buy - or Christmas prezzies. Sounds good .. you and your son Joey play wonderfully well and the www.myspace.com/padreehijo is so well worth a listen to your flamenco guitar: I've just put it on again .. everyone - well worth a listen??!!

Thanks for the complementary comment on the blog - glad you like it .. something for everyone? I think ...

I'll play your flamenco to my mother .. she'll enjoy it .. and to my uncle ...

All the best - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Bob Weisenberg said...

Hi, Hillary.

Thanks for your comment on my website. Just to clarify, because I get the names mixed up, too, the Mozart biography is by ALFRED Einstein. To confuse things, I have a piece on my site about ALBERT Einstein.

You will also enjoy this little poem about "Yoga and Mozart": http://wp.me/PlUox-eR

Bob Weisenberg
http://YogaDemystified.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. I did surprisingly get to the Mozart piece .. but as I'm totally switched off at the moment with the hospice and the nursing centre, and two houses .. and .. and a.. and .. I'm a bit doolally myself. Ok so the piece on your site is by Albert Einstein, and the Mozart bio is by Alfred Einstein .. what was Einstein? Oh yes I looked on Wiki .. Albert .. is that your Einstein!?

I did .. but I'm in a muddled existence .. as you can understand perhaps ..

Go well - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Letters

Wilma Ham said...

Hi Hilary.
My best wishes to you too, I too admire your ability to come up with all this while coping at all levels with what you are coping with.
Isn't music wonderful, it never ceases to amaze me to see a concert and all the musicians in such synchronicity. It mesmerizes me and takes me into another world.
Lots of love, Wilma

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Wilma - thanks for being here. My blog brings me relief .. while actually providing a talking point for my mother and in particular my uncle - though that has now changed, since my uncle is in the hospice.

Yes - music is great .. and my eyes are being opened to more .. as I learn about so much. Just the development of music, concerts and the orchestral synchronicity is just amazing - especially as I can't hear anything in my head, if it's not actually being played, or I'm singing a song I've heard many times.

My uncle loved his music .. thanks so much for being here and the support -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Peter Baca said...

Hi Hilary,

It is amazing that we are using a technology that dates back to Tutankhamun's reign! I suspect that they used the trumpet for military purposes...to signal troop movements.

Quite fascinating that the trumpet is used in the armed forces and to play music.

Thank you for your post!

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. yes - there's so much from the past we don't know about. Also my posts offer such microscopic snippets .. that covering 3,500+ years of history is nigh impossible!

Yes - trumpets still are used as communication tools in pageants etc, as they were all those hundreds of years ago in the armies of the rulers, as the world we know today developed.

Thanks for your comment -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Marketing Unscrambled, learn to earn 14 said...

Hello Hilary,

Thank you for that great post on music. How inspiring it is to hear it when you think of what some of the great masters wrote and they were played for people to enjoy.

Sorry to hear that your mother and Uncle are in the hospital. You are being pull in all different directions. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy day to add a post.

Take care of yourself as well.

Give them hugs from us.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. good to see you - glad you liked the story. It is just so surprising how things that we take for granted started and came together - we just forget life was, in our eyes, primitive and look how it's developed and how technology has helped.

Yes - life is somewhat tricky at the moment .. but my uncle comes first at the moment, and I haven't seen as much of my mother as I should do.
I hope to get time to write another story shortly!

Thanks for being here - and for the thoughts -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Giovanna Garcia said...

Hi Hilary,

This is a great post, my American father plays the Trumpet. So, I am going to show this to him.
It always amaze me of what you can write about.
Thank you for sharing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gio .. great .. I didn't know you had an American father tucked away. How amazing he plays the trumpet .. that will be really intersting to hear what he says ..

Thanks for being here ..
all the best
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Marketing Unscrambled, learn to earn 14 said...

Hello Hilary,

We know that you have things to take care of. We are just glad to read your post as they come. We will stay in touch. Keep doing your best. Family is so important. Take care of those needs. We will see you when you can.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. thanks for your thoughts - I appreciate the long distance hugs! I'll be posting again sometime soon - as you say one thing at a time.

All the best - Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Paul Maurice Martin said...

If you start sounding like the history channel then I could become addicted...

When the patient is doing well mentally that does help a lot...

Interesting that brazier-burning started so far back - I'd thought it was just a hippie thing from the sixties.

(Kidding, although I did have to do a double-take with the spelling similarity there...)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Paul .. thanks very much for the complement - sadly I don't quite think I match up to their comprehensive content: but I like some of their thoughts and then add my own twist.

Yes - I must say if we can have that positive outlook, and not be too negative about things .. I have been so lucky with my mother and my uncle - they are so bright and with it.

Thanks for being here .. good to see you .. and yes light started before the 60s .. but some might not think so!

All the best - nice to have you here .. your book is coming shortly .. Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

Marketing Unscrambled, learn to earn 14 said...

Hello Hilary,

Here is hoping that you are having a great day. Hugs to your mother and uncle. An even bigger one for you that does so much for others.

Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. I'm coping .. hospice and Nursing Centre visits .. my uncle had a good day yesterday and enjoys his visitors, was tired this morning. My mother was sleeping. I took some flowers up - scented lilies, spray chrysants, and some lovely bright pink nerines.

Thanks for your thoughts and large hug!
You too- have a good weekend -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories