Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/523

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FELIX MERITIS.
511
FERIAL and FESTAL.

at the present time conducted by the eminent Dutch musician, Heer Joh. J. H. Verhulst. The usual number is 10, and the subscription is equivalent to £5. The early history of Felix Meritis has been narrated by Professor Jorisson on the occasion of the Centenary, Nov. 2, 1877. It was founded in 1777, beginning its existence on the Leliegracht (Lily Canal) of Amsterdam. The founders intended it to be 'for the furtherance of laudable and useful arts and sciences; the augmentation of reason and virtue; the increase and prosperity of trade, navigation, agriculture, and fishery,' etc., etc. But Felix began at once with music and fine art, adding literature to the scheme two years later. The original locale soon proved to be too small, and in May 1782 the members removed to the Vorburgwal. In 1785 continued increase determined the erection of the present building on the Keizersgracht, completed three years after, and with 400 members, instead of, as at first, 40. (On May 1, 1876, the number of members of all classes was 324.) The wave of disturbance caused by the French Revolution washed over Felix Meritis, and in 1792, through want of funds, the concerts ceased. However, the leaders of the institution would not allow it to sink in the vortex of political speculation; and, in the abolition of societies throughout Holland this one was exempted. During the clatter of weapons the Muses were silent, but in 1800 the complement of members was again full, and in 1806 the reading-room, long closed during the prohibition of newspapers, opened again. In that year Louis Bonaparte, made King of Holland, offered his protection, which was declined, as was also the proposal that the public business of the country should be carried on in the building. Napoleon I. and Marie Louise, were however later received in it. In these troubled times the music of Felix Meritis tended to soften the feelings of distress and almost despair of the Amsterdam patriots; yet that solace ceased once more towards the close of 1813, the country being in a state of insurrection against the French. After 1815 came peace and the gentle arts again, and within the last thirty years great has been the spiritual harvest of the 'happy through their deserts'! [App. p.635 "the society ceased to exist in 1888."]

The name Felix Meritis was more than once applied by Robert Schumann to Felix Mendelssohn; see 'Gesammelte Schriften' (Leipzig, 1854), i. 219; also i. 191, 92, and 93.

[ A. J. H. ]

FELTON, Rev. William, born 1713, vicar-choral of Hereford Cathedral in the middle of the 18th century, was distinguished in his day as a composer for, and performer on, the organ and harpsichord. He published three sets of concertos for those instruments in imitation of those of Handel. Burney, in the life of Handel prefixed to his account of the Commemoration, relates, on the authority of Abraham Brown, the violinist, a droll anecdote of Felton's unsuccessful attempt, through Brown, to procure the name of Handel as a subscriber to the second set of these concertos. Felton also published two or three sets of lessons for the same instruments. He was one of the stewards of the Meeting of the Three Choirs at Hereford 1744, and at Gloucester 1745. 'Felton's Gavot' was long highly popular. He died Dec. 6, 1769.

[ W. H. H. ]

FENTON, Lavinia, whose real name was Beswick, was an actress and singer who first appeared in 1726 at the Haymarket Theatre as the Parish Girl, in Gay's burlesque, 'The What d'ye call it,' and afterwards at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, July 15, 1726, as Lucilla, in Sir W. Davenant's comedy, 'The Man's the Master.' She attracted no particular attention until she appeared as Polly Peachem in 'The Beggar's Opera,' on the first night of its performance, Jan. 29, 1728, when she 'became all at once the idol of the town; her pictures were engraven and sold in great numbers; her life written; books of letters and verses to her published; and pamphlets made of even her very sayings and jests.' This success led to her being entrusted with more important parts than had before been assigned to her. At the end of the season, after she had played Polly upwards of 60 times, she withdrew from the stage and went to live with Charles, third Duke of Bolton. On Oct. 21, 1751, his wife, from whom he had been separated many years, having died, the Duke married Lavinia Beswick at Aix, in Provence. She became a widow in 1754, died in January, 1760, at West Combe Park, Greenwich, and was buried in Greenwich Church, Feb. 3, 1760.

[ W. H. H. ]

FEO, Francesco, one of the masters of the Neapolitan school, was born at Naples in 1699. The traditions of Greco and Scarlatti were still fresh there, and it was at the suggestion of the last named that Domenico Gizzi had opened the private school at which Feo learnt the art of singing and the principles of composition. His bent was essentially dramatic, as indeed was that of nearly all the Neapolitans of his epoch, with the exception of Durante, whose colder and gloomier temperament predisposed him towards the ecclesiastical severities of the Roman style. Feo, like Durante and Leo, passed some time at the Vatican as the pupil of Pitoni, but the influence of his master was not sufficient to divert him from Opera. His 'Ipermestra,' 'Ariana,' and 'Andromache' were all published at Rome itself, and apparently during his residence there. In 1740 he succeeded his old master Gizzi at Naples, and did much to establish the school as a nursery of great singers. Though addicted to the stage, Feo did not altogether neglect Church Music, and his work is distinguished by elevation of style and profound scientific knowledge. But a certain sensuousness, even in his sacred pieces, is suggested by the fact that Gluck borrowed the subject of a Kyrie by him for a chorus in one of his operas.

[ E. H. P. ]

FERIAL and FESTAL. In the Christian Church from very early times the term Feria secunda was used to denote Monday, Feria tertia Tuesday, and so on. Hence the word Feria, or Ferial day, came to denote a day marked by no special observance, either of a festal or a penitential character. So far as music is concerned,