Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/205

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MADRIGAL SOCIETY.
193
 

Twelve Bells in Bride Lane, whence it removed to the Anchor and Crown, Whitefriars, as proved by the earliest minute-book in the Society's library, dated 1744. In 1745 the Society removed to the Founders' Arms, Lothbury, where rules were adopted limiting the number, of members to sixteen, with an admission fee of 8s. and a subscription of 3s. per quarter. Having returned for a time to the Twelve Bells, its original home, the Society afterwards migrated to the Queen's Arms, Newgate Street, in 1748, when the rules were revised. One rule enacted 'That all musical performances shall cease at half an hour after ten o'clock, unless some of the members shall be cheerfully incited to sing catches, in which case they shall be indulged half an hour, and no longer.' Numerous fines were imposed for such offences as the retention of books from the Society's library; and any member eating his supper, or a part thereof, during practice time was to forfeit sixpence, to be applied to buying ruled paper. The performance on each night was to be divided into two 'acts,' with an interval of half an hour, and in each act four madrigals were to be sung. Between 1750 and 1757 additional rules were adopted, by one of which each member to whose turn it came to serve as President was bound to present a score and parts of a madrigal ready for performance, or 'to forfeit a penny extraordinary to the plate' every night until he did so. By another rule any gentleman who had been educated in, or at the time belonged to, any cathedral or choir was to be admitted to visit the Society at his pleasure; and a similar privilege was accorded to any of 'the gentlemen of the Academy of Ancient Music.' Membership was confined to persons belonging to cathedral choirs, or those 'vouched for by two or more members of the Society as being capable of singing their part in concert both in time and in tune'; and others proposed for election were required, by way of probation, to sing between the acts their proper parts in an ancient madrigal for three or four voices, or some two-part song to be sung with double voices. The Society at this time (1749–50) met every Wednesday evening, and consisted of twenty members, who subscribed 4s. 6d. a quarter. According to Sir John Hawkins (who was himself a member) 'most of them were mechanics, some weavers from Spitalfields, others of various trades and occupations, who were well versed in the practice of Psalmody, and who, with a little pains and the help of the ordinary solmisation, which many of them were very expert in, became soon able to sing almost at sight a part in an English or even an Italian madrigal. They also sang catches, rounds, and canons, though not elegantly, yet with a degree of correctness that did justice to the harmony; and, to vary the entertainment, Immyns would sometimes read, by way of lecture, a chapter from Zarlino, translated by himself. They were men not less distinguished by their love of vocal harmony than by the harmless simplicity of their tempers and by their friendly disposition towards each other.' At times they took country excursions, and the minutes record that on Whit-Monday, 1751, 'the party proceeded up the river, breakfasting at Wandsor (Wandsworth), dining at Richmond, besides stopping to whet their whistles at Mortlack (Mortlake).' In 1764 Mr. Immyns died. In 1768 the subscription was raised to 8s. a quarter, the number of members being about thirty, and it was agreed to hold an entertainment for their friends once at least every year. In 1769 the Society removed to the Feathers Tavern, Cheapside; in 1775 tne King's Arms, Cornhill; in 1778 they were at the Half Moon, Cheapside, and the London Tavern; in April, 1792, at the King's Head in the Poultry; in May, 1792, at the Globe, Fleet Street; and in 1705 removed to the Crown and Anchor, when the charge for supper, 'on account of the advance in wine,' was raised to 2s. 6d. for members, 4s. for visitors, and 3s. for professors. Festival dinners were held in 1798, 1802, 1803, and 1809, and were continued at intervals, and in 1876 ladies dined at the festival for the first time. In 1814 the subscription was raised to £3, and in 1816 the charge for supper, including a pint of wine, was fixed at 6s. On September 27, 1821, the supper meeting, after being held for eighty years, gave place to a monthly dinner, still held at the Freemasons' Tavern during the season, which then lasted from October to July, but now numbers five meetings, commencing in November. [App. p.707 "since 1882 the meetings have been held in Willis's Rooms.] In 1811 was offered for the first time a prize of a silver cup, value ten guineas, 'for the best madrigal in not less than four nor more than six parts, the upper part or parts to be for one or two treble voices. The character of the composition to be after the manner of the madrigals by Bennet, Wilbye, Morley, Weelkes, Ward, Marenzio, and others, and each part to contain a certain melody either in figure or imitation; therefore, a melody harmonized will be inadmissible.' W. Scale's 'Awake, sweet muse,' and W. Hawes's 'Philomela' were selected for a final ballot from fourteen compositions sent in, which included S. Wesley's 'O sing unto my roundelay,' and W. Linley's 'Ah me, quoth Venus.' The prize was given to Beale. The earlier members included Immyns, the founder, by profession an attorney, afterwards appointed lutist to the Chapel Royal and amanuensis to Dr. Pepusch; Dr. John Worgan, organist and composer; Sir John Hawkins, the musical historian (1741–1751); Rev. C. Torriano and Jonathan Battishill, the composer (elected 1752 [App. p.708 "1757"]); E.T. Warren, editor of the Glee Collection (1762); Dr. Arne and his son Michael, and Luffman Atterbury, composer of the glee 'Come, let us all a-Maying go' (1765); Theodore Aylward, one of the assistant directors at the Handel Commemoration of 1784 (1769); Joah Bates, the conductor of the Handel Commemoration (1774); Dr. B. Cooke, organist of Westminster Abbey (1778); James Bartleman (1793); J.P. Street, Librarian and many years Father of the Society; R. J. S. Stevens, the Gresham Professor, and W. Horsley, the glee-