Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 3.djvu/222

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210 SACRED HARMONIC SOCIETY.

'Adeste fideles.' The names of the principal singers were not published ; Thomas Harper was engaged as solo trumpeter. The then officers of the Society were John Newman Harrison, president; Thomas Brewer, secretary; J. G. Moginie, treasurer ; Joseph Surman, conductor ; George Perry, leader of the band; and F. C. Walker, organist. In Nov. 1833, the permission to meet in the chapel being suddenly withdrawn, the Society removed to a chapel in Henrietta Street, Brunswick Square, and shortly afterwards to a room belonging to the Scottish Hospital in Fleur de Lys Court, Fleet Street ; but at Mid- summer, 1834, ^ migrated to Exeter Hall, which was its home until Michaelmas, 1880. The con- certs were for the first two years given in the Minor Hall, and consisted principally of selec- tions, in which a few short complete works were occasionally introduced, such as Handel's ' Det- tingen Te Deum,' Haydn's ' Mass,' No. I, Bishop's 'Seventh Day,' and Romberg's ' The Transient and the Eternal.' The Society having on June 28, 1 836, given a concert in the Large Hall in aid of a charity with very great success, was shortly afterwards induced to give its own concerts there. At the same time an important change in its policy was effected, viz. the abandonment of miscellaneous selections for complete oratorios, a change which was received by the public with great favour. Up to that period, even at the provincial festivals, it was very rarely that any complete oratorio, except Handel's 'Messiah' was performed, whilst the programmes of the so-called ' Oratorios ' at the two patent theatres on the Wednesdays and Fridays in Lent were a mongrel mixture of oratorio songs and choruses, secular songs of all kinds, and instrumental solos. The first concert given in the Large Hall on the Society's own account was Handel's ' Messiah,' on Dec. 20, 1836, the orchestra consisting of about 300 performers. In 1837 the works performed included Mendelssohn's 'St. Paul' (March 7), for the first time in London and second in England, Handel's ' Messiah,' ' Israel in Egypt,' and ' Dettingen Te Deum,' Haydn's 'Creation,' and the Mass known as Mozart's 1 2th. On Sept. 1 2 another performance of ' St. Paul* was given, in the composer's presence [see MENDELSSOHN], of which he wrote to the Committee of the Society ' I can hardly express the gratification I felt in hearing my work per- formed in so beautiful a manner, indeed, I shall never wish to hear some parts of it better executed than they were on that night. The power of the choruses, that large body of good and musical voices, and the style in which they sang the whole of my music, gave me the highest and most heartfelt treat ; while I reflected on the immense improvement which such a number of real amateurs must necessarily produce in the country which may boast of it.' During the year the number of performers was increased to 500. In the same year the formation of a musical library was commenced, and Robert Kanzow Bowley appointed honorary librarian. In 1838 Handel's 'Judas Maccabeus,' 'Samson,'

��SACRED HARMONIC SOCIETY.

and 'Solomon' were revived, and Beethoven's ' Mass in C,' Spohr's ' Last Judgment,' and Perry's 'Fall of Jerusalem' introduced. 1839 witnessed the revival and repetition of Handel's ' Joshua.' A new organ was built for the Society by Walker, and opened Jan. 23, 1840, with a performance by Thomas Adams. Handel's 'Saul* was revived, and Elvey's 'Resurrection and Ascension,' and Perry's ' Thanksgiving Anthem on the birth of the Princess Royal ' introduced. 1841 was distinguished by a revival of Handel's

  • Jephthah,' and by two performances of a

selection of anthems. The latter was received with great interest, public attention having been then lately drawn to our cathedral music. The programme was chronologically arranged and exhibited the various changes in the style of English church music from Tallis to Samuel Wesley, a period of two centuries and a half. It is true that a performance of a so-called 'Selection of Anthems' had been given in the preceding year, but the programme being in- judiciously arranged a few anthems being inter- spersed with songs and other pieces in no wise connected with church-music, had produced but little effect : the distinguishing feature of it was two admirable performances upon the organ by Mendelssohn. Perry's ' Death of Abel,' was also brought forward in 1841. In 1842 Handel's ' Jubilate Deo,' and Beethoven's ' Mount of Olives' (the 'Engedi' version), were introduced. In 1843 Spohr's 'Fall of Babylon* was produced, conducted by the composer, who was then on a visit to England ; Dr. Crotch's anthem,

  • The Lord is king,' was performed for the first

time; Mendelssohn's 'Hymn of Praise' was introduced, and also Handel's 'Deborah.' The new introductions in 1844 were a Coronation Anthem and an organ concerto by Handel, Men- delssohn's 42nd Psalm, and Haydn's Mass, No. 1 6 ; but the season was chiefly distinguished by two performances of Mendelssohn's 'St. Paul,' conducted by the composer. Handel's 'Atha- liah/ Purcell's 'Jubilate in D,' and cantata 'Saul and the Witch of Endor,' Neukomm's 'David,' and a new selection of anthems, were brought forward for the first time in 1845. In

1846 the new introductions comprised Perry's 'Belshazzar's Feast,' Mendelssohn's i I4th Psalm, Haydn's Mass, No. 2, and some minor pieces.

1847 was an important epoch in the Society's annals ; Handel's ' Belshazzar * was revived, and a new selection of anthems given, but the greatest event was the production for the first time in its improved form of Mendelssohn's 'Elijah,' under his own personal direction. Four performances of it were given, and it at once took that firm position which it has ever since maintained. Subsequently Spohr visited this country at the invitation of the Society and conducted two per- formances of his 'Fall of Babylon' and one of his 'Christian's Prayer' and 'Last Judgment' (the last for the only time in England), and pro- duced his ' 84th Psalm, Milton's version,' com- posed expressly for the occasion. An occurrence also took place during this year which eventually

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