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Christian Ludwig Boxberg (1670-1729): Bestelle Dein Haus

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January 27, 2015

Boxberg isn't terribly well known today and this is one of the few pieces of his music that's been recorded. He was born on April 24th 1670 in Sondershausen´and was a student under Johann Schelle at Leipzig's Thomasschule between 1682 and 1686. He had a solid rather than a spectacular career with a ten year stint as organist in Grossenhain, (north of Dresden) between 1692 and 1702. He had two musical careers a religious one and a secular one, the secular being defined by his association with Leipzig where he studied under the Leipzig Opera's director Nikolaus A. Strungk for four years between 1688 and 1692 as well being active as a singer, librettist, and composer of operas in his own right. He was evidently well thought of as a composer because his operas were performed at the court of Ansbach. However he renounced his operatic career in 1702 to take up an appointment as  organist at the church of Ss Peter und Paul in Görlitz where he remained until his death twenty-seven years later. While in Görlitz he wrote a number of cantatas  in a variety of forms including both choral works and solo cantatas for soprano and trio sonata accompaniment.

Bestelle Dein Haus (Set thy house in order) is a funerary cantata, I don't know whether it was written for a particular occasion or for general use, it's an interesting and worthwhile piece of music that makes good use of the chorale. The text makes use of Isaiah 38:1 and Psalm 39:4. If in places it's reminiscent of the Actus Tragicus that's because Bach made made use of the same texts and the same musical rhetoric. (He was also by no means averse to quoting other composers). But the approach Boxberg adopted is on the whole very different from Bach's. For a start Isaiah's injunction to "set thy house in order" comes before the psalmic commentary which Boxberg develops further by combining it with a somewhat terse movement that contrasts the bass with the choir (Herr, lehre doch mich … (psalm 39)).  In fact terseness is perhaps the defining characteristic of this cantata – Boxberg made use of the musical rhetoric expected in a funerary cantata such as the tremolo repeated notes on the stringed instruments which in baroque sacred music by convention represents the Christian soul's dread of condemnation and awe of God. He made use of it and it's a competent piece of music that repays the time spent listening and helps place Bach's music in perspective of the music of his time. Bach took up where Boxberg left off and in BWV 106 brought the rhetoric to as close to musical perfection as we're likely to hear in this life.

markfromireland

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William Byrd (±1539-1623): Deficit in dolore

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January 26, 2015

Byrd's AATTB motet Deficit in dolore (Wasted in grief) takes its text from the psalms and free text he published it in the 1589 Cantiones sacrae. Like much in that book Byrd selected and arranged the texts to describe personal suffering before expressing hope. 

mfi

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BBC Documentary: David Starkey’s MUSIC & MONARCHY 4. Re-inventions

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January 25, 2015

Dr David Starkey's exploration of how the monarchy shaped Britain's music concludes with the 19th and 20th centuries, when the crown rediscovered the power of pageantry and ceremony and when native music experienced a renaissance.

David discovers the royal origins of such classics as Edward Elgar's 'Land of Hope and Glory', Hubert Parry's 'I Was Glad' and William Walton's 'Crown Imperial', as well as finding out how the twentieth century's coronations - culminating in the crowning of Elizabeth II - cemented the repertory of royal classics in the hearts of the British people. He hears music written by Queen Victoria's beloved Albert, Prince Consort, played for him in Buckingham Palace on a lavish golden piano which was bought by Victoria and Albert themselves. There are also specially recorded performances from St Paul's Cathedral Choir and Westminster Abbey and of works by Felix Mendelssohn, Arthur Sullivan, Charles Villiers Stanford, and Ralph Vaughan Williams, as well as Hubert Parry's classic 'Jerusalem'.

David uncovers a rarely seen, diamond-encrusted conductor's baton that was a gift from Queen Victoria to her private organist, Sir Walter Parratt. He also recounts the duets sung by Italian opera composer Gioacchino Rossini with George IV in his decadent pleasure palace, the Brighton Pavilion; and visits the Royal College of Music in London, and St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, both of which played a crucial role in the revival of British music.

Enjoy :-)

mfi

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Rutter – Blow thou winter wind – The Cambridge Singers – YouTube

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January 24, 2015

Rutter's setting of Amiens' song from  Act II, Scene VII of As You Like It, sung here by The Cambridge Singers. Enjoy :-).

mfi

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Franz Tunder (1614-1667): Salve mi Jesu

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January 23, 2015

Tunder tends to get just a footnote in the musical histories as Buxtehude's father in law, predecessor, and founder of the tradition of Abendmusik concerts that Buxtehude brought to full fruition.  His contemporaries thought very well him and he was well-travelled having studied under such masters as Borchgrevinck in Copenhagen and Frescobaldi in Florence before accepting the post of Werckmeister (administrator and treasurer of the church) and organist of the Marienkirche in Lübeck. Prior to accepting the Marienkirche post he was the music tutor to Johann Georg I of Saxony daughters and this makes me suspect that he was appointed to the position in Lübeck specifically as a moderniser. He soon made his presence felt introducing the music of such Italian masters as Grandi, Rovetta, and Vesi to the North German city. Not much of his own music has survived but that which has is certainly worth listening to. His motet Salve mi Jesu the text of which is the Marian Salve with Jesus' name being substituted for that of The Virgin is very Italianate both in structure and in the vocalisms you'll find it below together with a translation of the text showing both the original and the adaptations – enjoy :-).

mfi

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