Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 1.djvu/528

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516
FESTIVALS.
FESTING.

died in 1772 worth £8,000, acquired chiefly by teaching.

[ W. H. H. ]

FESTIVALS. The earliest musical festivals of which any trustworthy record exists were held in Italy. At an interview between Francis I, King of France, and Pope Leo X at Bologna in 1515, the musicians attached to their respective courts combined and gave a performance, but no details of the programme have been preserved. In the early part of the 17th century there was a thanksgiving festival at St. Peter's at Rome on the cessation of the Plague, when a mass by Benevoli for six choirs was sung by more than 200 voices with organ accompaniment, the sixth choir occupying the highest part of the cupola. In France the first festival recorded is that which took place as a thanksgiving for the recovery of the eldest son of Louis XIV, when Lulli's 'Te Deum' (written to celebrate a similar happy event in His Majesty's own life in 1686) was performed by 300 musicians. In Bohemia the earliest festival was held at Prague in honour of the coronation of the Emperor Charles VI as King of Bohemia, when an opera by Fux was performed in the open air by a band of 200 and a chorus of 100 voices—a somewhat singular proportion of orchestral to vocal resources—and of this an account is given by Burney in his German Tour, vol. ii. p. 178. French musicians united at Paris in 1767 [App. p.635 "1764"] in a solemn service at the funeral of Rameau; and at Naples in 1774, at the burial of Jomelli, the service was rendered by 300 musicians. In Austria the earliest festivals were given by the Musical Institution at Vienna (Tonkünstler Societät), by whose members, to the number of 400, oratorios were performed twice annually, in Advent and Lent, for charitable purposes, beginning with 1772.[1] In the same city there was a festival in honour of Haydn in 1808, at which the 'Creation' was performed, and at which the composer bade farewell to the world. More important, and in its dimensions approaching more nearly to the modern festival, was a performance given at Vienna in 1811, also in Haydn's honour, when the numbers are said to have been upwards of 700.

The greatest of the German festivals, the Lower Rhenish, had its origin in a 'Thuringian Musical Festival,' held at Erfurt in 1811 [App. p.635 "a Festival at Frankenhausen in 1804, (Spohr's Autobiography, i. 151)"], under the direction of Bischoff, the organist of Grankenhausen, whose example was imitated in 1817 when Johann Schornstein, the musical director at Elberfeld, gave a performance at that town in which the musicians of Düsseldorf also took part. At first the Lower Rhenish festivals were held alternately at Elberfeld and Düsseldorf, but in 1821 Cologne joined in the scheme, and the Musikfest took place there. In 1825 the festival was held at Aix la Chapelle, and, with the exception of 1827—the year of Beethoven's death—when Elberfeld once more took its place, it has been held at Düsseldorf, Aix, or Cologne. [Niederrheinische Musikfeste.]

In England the earliest festivals were those held at St. Paul's Cathedral in aid of the Sons of the Clergy Corporation, at which, since the year 1709 [App. p.635 "1698"], a full band and choir has annually assisted, the Royal Society of Musicians for many years undertaking to supply the orchestra. The second English festival established was that of 'The Three Choirs'—Gloucester, Worcester, and Hereford—which after having been held previously for some years for the enjoyment of the lay clerks and choristers, was in 1724 utilised as a means of securing an annual collection for the widows and orphans of the clergy of the three dioceses. [See Three Choirs Festivals.] In 1739 a festival, to which Handel lent his aid, was established in connection with the 'Fund for the Support of Decayed Musicians,' and this institution was in 1790 incorporated as 'The Royal Society of Musicians,' which still follows the ancient custom by giving an annual performance of the 'Messiah' in aid of its funds. In 1749 Handel conducted a festival at the Foundling Hospital in aid of that charity, and directed it annually until his death. [See Foundling Hospital.] Festivals were subsequently held at Cambridge in 1749 on the occasion of the Chancellor's installation; at Leeds in 1767 for the Leeds Infirmary then recently opened; at Birmingham in 1768 [see Birmingham]; at Beverly in 1769—at the opening of Snetzler's organ in the Minster; at Norwich in 1770 [see Norwich]; at Westminster Abbey in 1784 [see Handel Commemoration]; at Oxford in 1785; at Manchester in 1785; at Sheffield in 1786; at Derby, Winchester, and Salisbury—in celebration of the opening of Green's organ—in 1788; at Hull in 1789 in aid of the Infirmary; at Liverpool in 1790; at York in 1791 (held annually till 1802 and revived 1823) [see York]; at St. Margaret's, Westminster, in 1792—the first annual performance of the 'Messiah' in aid of the Westminster Hospital; and at Edinburgh in 1815. Many of these festivals were continued in subsequent years, and some are still held. The Sons of the Clergy Festival, the Three Choirs Festival, the Birmingham and Norwich Festivals, are now held triennially, and at Leeds, Liverpool, and Bristol, festivals of a similar character are also held every third year. So are the Handel Festivals of the Sacred Harmonic Society at the Crystal Palace, which after a preliminary trial in 1857 began their triennial existence in 1859. [Handel Festival.] The Edinburgh Orchestral Festivals are now held annually under the direction of the Reid Professor of Music, and festivals of importance have been established at Glasgow and Dundee.

Festivals of Parochial Choirs, which are now held annually in the majority of the cathedrals and at other large churches, were first organised about the year 1850, the Cheadle Association in the diocese of Lichfield being one of the earliest. The first festival of this nature on a large scale was held in Durham Cathedral in 1863. Next in order in the cathedral or diocesan festivals came Ely, Peterborough, Salisbury, and Norwich, and at York in 1861 there was a festival in the Minster with 2700 trained singers. Similar

  1. Hanslick's 'Concert-wesen in Wien,' p. 18.