Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 4.djvu/128

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112

��THOROUGHBASS.

���TheFiguring here given contains nothing which the Modern Professor of Harmony can safely neglect to teach his pupils. The misfortune is, that pupils are too often satisfied with writing their exercises, and too seldom expected to play from a Thoroughbass at sight. Many young stu- dents could write the figured Chords correctly enough ; but few care to acquire sufficient fluency of reading and execution to enable them to ac- company a Continue effectively, though this power is indispensable to the correct rendering, not only of the works of Handel and Bach, but even of the Oratorios and Masses of Haydn and Mozart the latest great works in which the Organ Part is written on a single Stave. [W.S.R.]

THREE CHOIRS, OF GLOUCESTER, WORCESTER, AND HEREFORD, MEETINGS, OB FESTIVALS OF THE. These Meetings were first held in 1724, if not earlier, but became permanent in that year, when the Three Choirs assembled at Gloucester for the performance of cathedral service on a grand scale, with or- chestral accompaniment. Their establishment was mainly promoted by Rev. Thomas Bisse, chancellor of Hereford, and brother of Dr. Philip Bisse, bishop of the diocese, and the proceeds were applied in aid of a fund for the relief of the widows and orphans of the poorer clergy of the three dioceses, or of the members of the three choirs. 1 In 1725 a sermon was preached at Worcester for the benefit of the charity, and in 1726 a remarkable one by the Rev. Thomas Bisse at Hereford. The meetings have since con- tinued to be held, in unbroken succession, up to the present time, the i6oth meeting having taken place at Gloucester in 1883. They are held alternately in each of the three cities, each having thereby in its turn a triennial fes- tival. On their first establishment it was cus- tomary for the members of the Three Choirs to assemble on the first Tuesday in Septem- ber, and unitedly to perform choral service on the following two days. Six stewards, two from each diocese, were appointed to superintend the distribution of the charity. Evening con-

i Tho Utter did not long continue to participate In the benefits of the charity ; the relief Is supposed to have been discontinued when their performance ceased to be gratuitous.

��THREE CHOIRS.

certs were given, in the Shire Halls usually, on each of the two days. Purcell's Te Deum and Jubilate in D, and Handel's Utrecht Te Deum and Jubilate were constantly performed, and from 1748 the Dettingen Te Deum. Ora- torios were given, as well as secular music, at the evening concerts, but it was not until 1759 tnat they were admitted into the cathe- drals, when the 'Messiah' was performed in Hereford Cathedral, and continued to be the only oratorio so performed until 1787, when ' Israel in Egypt ' was given in Gloucester Ca- thedral. In 1753 the festivals were extended to three days, and in 1836 to four days, at which they have ever since continued. It has always been the practice to hand over the col- lections made at the cathedral doors after the morning performances intact to the charity, the excess, if any, of expenditure over receipts from sale of tickets being made good by the stewards. The excess became eventually so permanent that in 1837 great difliculty * was experienced in inducing gentlemen to undertake the office of steward, and the existence of the Meeting was seriously imperilled ; but the diffi- culty has been since overcome by very largely increasing the number of stewards. The festivals are conducted by the organist of the cathedral in which they are successively held, the organists of the other two cathedrals officiating respect- ively as organist and pianoforte accompanist. Deviations from this practice have, however, sometimes occurred. For instance, Mr. (after- wards Dr.) Boyce conducted in 1737, and for several subsequent years ; Dr. William Hayes (at Gloucester), in 1757 and 1760; and Dr. John Stephens (at Gloucester) in 1 766. The last occa- sion upon which a stranger was called upon to conduct was in 1842, when, in consequence of the illness of the then organist of Worcester cathedral, the baton was placed in the hands of Mr. Joseph Surman. Until 1859 the first morning of the festival was devoted to the performance of cathedral service by the whole of the performers, but since that time the service has been per- formed at an early hour by the members of the Three Choirs only, to organ accompaniment, and an oratorio given later in the day. In 1875 an attempt was made, at Worcester, to alter the character of the performances in the cathedrals, by excluding oratorios and substituting church music interspersed with prayers. But this met with decided opposition and has not been re- peated. The band at these festivals is com- posed of the best London professors, and the chorus comprises, in addition to the members of the Three Choirs, members of the local choral societies and others. The most eminent prin- cipal singers of the day are engaged for the solo parts. The pieces usually selected for per- formance at the Meetings were those which were most popular. But occasionally new and untried compositions were introduced. For instance, an anthem by Boyce, Worcester, 1 743 ; anthems by Dr. Alcock and J. S. Smith, Gloucester, 1773; Clarke- Whitfeld's 'Crucifixion/ Hereford, 1822;

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