Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/256

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244
BISCHOFF.
BIRMINGHAM FESTIVAL.

theatre in King Street, in aid of the funds of the General Hospital. The first programme was exclusively Handelian, with a band of twenty-five and a chorus of forty, conducted by Mr. Capel Bond of Coventry, but since 1802 the programmes have been drawn from all sources. In 1778 a second festival was held, and in 1784 Lord Dudley and Ward was the president of the third festival, at which, for the first time, a body of noblemen and gentlemen assisted as stewards. In 1787 and 1790 the band was drawn from the King's Theatre in London, and with the chorus numbered 100 performers. In 1793 no festival was held, owing to the burning of the theatre, but from 1796 to 1829 there was a triennial festival. The next festival was in 1834, the first held in the New Town Hall, where the concerts have since taken place every third year. At the earlier festivals the male singers were members of the Worcester and Lichfield Cathedral choirs, the sopranos being selected from several Lancashire choral societies, famed then as now for the excellence of their voices. The members of a local Gentlemen's Musical Association also assisted in the chorus, which now consists of a local choral society, reinforced by members of the Sacred Harmonic Society, London. In 1805 the number of performers was increased to 120, in 1808 to 188, in 1811 to 204, in 1820 to 231, in 1834 (in the Town Hall) to 386, and at the last Festival in 1876 the band numbered 130 and the chorus 390. At first the duties of organist and conductor were combined, but in 1832 they were divided. The conductors included Capel Bond (1768), Dr. Crotch (1808), S. Wesley (1811), T. Greatorex (1820), W. Knyvett (1834–43), Mendelssohn and Moscheles (1846), Costa (1849 to the present time). The band included the most eminent orchestral players of the time. The solo instrumentalists and principal singers include almost every artist of note of the past and present century, many of whom have here made their first appearances.

The scheme of the first festival (1768) included the Dettingen 'Te Deum,' the Utrecht 'Jubilate,' the 'Coronation Anthem' and the 'Messiah' (sung in the church), and 'L' Allegro' and 'Alexander's Feast' in the theatre. In 1778 an organ concerto was introduced at the church performance. In 1784 Purcell's 'Te Deum' was sung, and a new oratorio, 'Goliath,' by Atterbury, produced. Year by year Handel's music, although still forming the major part of the programmes, was more and more varied by the music of other masters.

Among the most noteworthy events in the history of the festival may be mentioned:— the introduction of Haydn's 'Creation' in the place of one of Handel's oratorios in 1802; the engagement of Mr. Greatorex, organist of Westminster Abbey, in 1805, previous to which year the organists had been local performers; the use of Mozart's accompaniments to the 'Messiah' for the first time in 1808; the withdrawal of the orchestral accompaniment at the church service, and the use of additional wind parts for the 'Messiah,' by Greatorex, in 1820; the introduction of nine trombones in addition to the organ at the church service in 1823; the last performance in church in 1829, the year in which operatic performances in character were introduced, and in which Signor Costa was compelled to appear as a vocalist as a condition of the payment of his expenses by the committee, who refused to allow him to conduct Zingarelli's cantata; the appearance of Mendelssohn as the conductor of 'St. Paul,' and as solo organist in 1837; the production of 'Elijah' in 1846; the appointment of Signor Costa as conductor, and the rearrangement of the plan of the orchestra, in 1849; and the formation of the Birmingham Amateur Harmonic Association, to form the local contingent of the chorus, in 1855. Sir Michael Costa wrote his 'Eli' and 'Naaman' for performance at the festivals of 1855 and 1864. The receipts at the festivals have gradually risen, and the actual profit, which is handed over to the treasurer of the General Hospital, stood at upwards of £7500 in 1873, as compared with £299 in 1768. The number of persons present on the four days of the festival in 1876 reached a total of 14,916, and the gross receipts were £15,180. Since their foundation, the festivals have yielded a grand total of upwards of £100,000 to the hospital funds.

[App. p.547 adds "the festival of 1882 was the last conducted by Sir Michael Costa. It was distinguished by the first performance of Gounod's 'Redemption.' In 1885 Herr Richter was appointed conductor, and inaugurated his direction by producing the 'Messiah' as far as possible in the manner intended by Handel, i.e. without the additional accompaniment and the alterations introduced for effect. Gounod's 'Mors et Vita,' Stanford's 'Three Holy Children,' Dvořák's 'Spectre's Bride,' and Cowen's 'Sleeping Beauty,' were among the new works commissioned for the festival."

[ C. M. ]

BIS (Fr.), that is, 'twice,' a cry more in use abroad than here, and equivalent to Encore. The French even have a verb, bisser, to repeat.

When written, as it sometimes is in MS. music, over a phrase or passage, it signifies that the notes are to be repeated; the same thing would be effected by dots of repetition at the beginning and end of the phrase.

BISCHOFF, Dr. Ludwig Friedrich Christoph, born at Dessau Nov. 27, 1794. His father was a cello-player in the Duke's band, and the boy was early initiated into music, though (like so many musicians) intended for science. In 1812 he entered the university of Berlin, and attended the philological lectures of Boeckh. But the war of freedom put a stop to study; Bischoff volunteered, and was taken prisoner by the French. After the treaty of Paris he resumed his studies and took his degree. He filled various posts in Switzerland, was professor at Berlin, and director of the gymnasium at Wesel from 1823 to 1849. Here he was remarkably active in musical matters, founding societies, assisting performances, and making his house in every sense a home for music. After twenty-five years he took his leave, and settled first in Bonn and then in Cologne. There he founded the 'Rheinische Musikzeitung' (1850) and the 'Nieder-Rheinische Musikzeitung' (1853), and edited them to the day of his death (Feb. 24, 1867), acting also as reporter to the 'Cölnische Zeitung,' and acquiring great influence throughout the Lower Rhine districts. The tendency of his papers was dead against that of the 'Neue Zeitschrift' of Schumann and Brendel, in regard to Wagner and Liszt. Bischoff's worship for Haydn, Mozart,