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2.110528 - MUSICAL JOURNEY (A) - ENGLAND: London, Westminster, Greenwich (NTSC)
A Musical Tour of London, Westminster and Greenwich
Through London flows the River Thames. From Tower Bridge it is possible to travel up the river until the Houses of Parliament are seen. The Palace of Westminster is a building of the 19th century Gothic revival, designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Welby Pugin and constructed on the site of the old medieval palace, largely destroyed by fire in 1834. The clock tower has come to symbolize London, identified with the hour bell it houses, Big Ben. There is a glimpse of Sir Christopher Wren’s domed masterpiece, St Paul’s, some miles away, in the City of London, the business heart of the capital. The church was one of the many built by Wren and his assistants after the Great Fire of London in 1666. It was completed in 1710. The royal parks span an area of some six hundred acres, with Hyde Park adjoining Kensington Gardens, adjacent to Kensington Palace, redesigned by Wren. St James’s Park lies to the south of the broad avenue known as Pall Mall, leading to Buckingham Palace. The park is the home of a number of wild birds, and there are birds on the Serpentine in Hyde Park. The park includes Rotten Row, where riders may take exercise. At the opposite end of the Mall to Buckingham Palace is Trafalgar Square, with its column in honour of Admiral Nelson, its fountains and the impressive façades of the National Gallery and the church of St Martin-in-the-Fields. Trafalgar Square is not far from Piccadilly and Piccadilly Circus.
Music Haydn: Symphony No. 104 in D major, ‘London’ – I. Adagio—Allegro
Joseph Haydn was born in Rohrau in 1732, the son of a wheelwright. He became a chorister in the Imperial Chapel in Vienna and after a period during which he made his living there as he could, he entered the service of various noblemen, eventually finding a position as Deputy Kapellmeister to the Esterházy family. In 1766 he succeeded to the position of Kapellmeister, a title he retained until his death in Vienna in 1809. Much of his active life, however, was spent at the Palace of Esterháza on the Hungarian plains, a complex of buildings that rivalled Versailles in magnificence. Here he had busy administrative duties, with charge over the employment of musicians for the Prince’s orchestra and theatres, for which he was obliged to write music. On the death of Prince Nikolaus in 1790 Haydn was able to accept invitations to visit London and he made two extended visits in the following years, writing a series of twelve symphonies for performance in public concerts arranged by the violinist and impresario Johann Peter Salomon. The last of the symphonies Haydn wrote for London, the Symphony No. 104 in D major, known as the ‘London’, was first performed at the King’s Theatre on 13th April 1795, with Dr Haydn presiding at the pianoforte, an instrument now generally omitted from performances. There is a slow introduction to the first movement, with a motivic connection to what follows in the lively subsequent Allegro. [Recommended recording Naxos 8.550287]
Near the Houses of Parliament is Westminster Abbey, its present buildings largely the work of the 13th and 14th centuries, although there was a Saxon foundation there and subsequently a Norman building. A fine example of the ecclesiastical architecture of the period, the Abbey has become a national monument and holds the tombs and memorials of many distinguished figures from the past. Poets’ Corner has memorials to famous poets and writers, and there is a slightly improbable monument in commemoration of Handel. Not far away is the very different Westminster Cathedral, the seat of the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. Designed by John Francis Bentley, the Catholic cathedral was built between 1895 and 1903 and is the most significant example in England of a building based on the revival of Byzantine architecture. There is a tall bell-tower, like the rest of the exterior built of red brick with bands of stone. Inside there are gilded mosaics and marble facings.
Music Haydn: Symphony No. 104 – II. Andante
The slow movement of Symphony No. 104 allows the strings a theme of simple beauty, the key of G major answered by a central minor section.
Kensington Palace was the home of Queen Victoria, before she acceded to the throne, and is still the residence of a number of members of the royal family. From 1689, the accession of William III and Queen Mary, until 1760 it was the residence of the ruling monarch. Near Marble Arch, in Hyde Park, is Speakers’ Corner, where freedom of speech and freedom of heckling and argument are seen and heard in energetic practice.
Music Haydn: Symphony No. 104 – III. Menuetto: Allegro
The Minuet and Trio of Symphony No. 104 are possibly the most familiar of the four movements.
The Royal Opera House at Covent Garden was for long an immediate neighbour to a vegetable and flower market. Recent developments have incorporated the Floral Hall into the opera complex, while the area outside, laid out as an Italian piazza in the seventeenth century by Inigo Jones, has fashionable shops and room for entertainers of various kinds. Belgravia has fine regency buildings and terraces. Buckingham Palace has been the residence of the monarch since 1837. It stands at the end of Pall Mall and was part of the plan conceived under the Prince Regent, later George IV, and executed by the architect Nash, who is responsible for some of the fine regency terraces of the capital. Buckingham Palace itself has an Edwardian façade. Other impressive buildings of the capital include the museums in South Kensington. The Natural History Museum is the work of the architect Alfred Waterhouse and was completed in 1880. The nearby Victoria and Albert Museum dates from a similar period.
Music Haydn: Symphony No.104 – IV. Allegro
The final movement of Haydn’s symphony finds Croatia and England both claiming a thematic share. The themes, whatever their origin, certainly have something of folk-song about them and are treated with the composer’s practised skill.
Tower Bridge crosses the Thames by the Tower of London itself. Credited by legend to Julius Caesar, the Tower had its true origin about 1078, when work on the White Tower was started under William the Conqueror. The castle was considerably enlarged under Henry III in the 13th century and there were further additions under Edward I a few years after Henry’s death. The chapel is part of the Norman building. The Tower holds the Crown Jewels and a fine display of armour and is guarded by the Yeoman Warders or Beefeaters. It still finds a traditional place for its ravens.
Music Haydn: Symphony No. 103 in E flat major, ‘Drum Roll’ –
Haydn’s penultimate symphony for London, Symphony No. 103 in E flat major, known as the ‘Drumroll’, was first heard at the King’s Theatre on 2nd March 1795. The slow introduction to the first movement starts with a drum-roll, followed by a long-drawn theme from cellos, double basses and bassoons, hinting at the Dies irae of the Requiem Mass. A lively Allegro follows, but before it comes to an end the drum-roll is heard again, with the material with which the symphony had begun. [Recommended recording Naxos 8.550387]
The Scottish architect James Gibbs studied in Italy, where he imbibed a taste for the late Baroque. His church of St Martin-in-the-Fields, in Trafalgar Square, was built between 1721 and 1726. It has a pediment and portico behind which rises a steeple, a feature that aroused contemporary criticism and imitation in equal measure. The vaulted ceiling is one of the notable features of the interior, with the slender columns and gilded capitals of the nave. By night London, like other cities, is lit by its illuminated signs and busy traffic. Piccadilly Circus, bordering on the theatre district of the West End is particularly active, dominated by the statue of Eros, the god of love, while Trafalgar Square seems particularly impressive. There Nelson on his lofty column seems to gaze out over the National Gallery, the work of the architect William Wilkins, completed in 1838.
Music Haydn: Symphony No. 103 – II. Andante
The second movement of Haydn’s Drum Roll Symphony offers a set of double variations, versions of two contrasting themes in C minor and C major respectively. Again there are suggestions of folk-music from Haydn’s own part of Austria or from the place of his employment.
Hampton Court Palace was started by Cardinal Wolsey in 1514 but surrendered in 1529 to Henry VIII. The changes instituted by the King included an astronomical clock and fanvaulting for Anne Boleyn’s gateway. There were further changes to what had continued as a royal residence, under William III, when Sir Christopher Wren replaced Tudor courtyards by new wings to the original building. The gardens were laid out under William III, who met his death after his horse stumbled over a mole-hill, to the delight of his opponents who hoped for a Stuart restoration. Something of the nature of the palace can be seen in the confusion of chimneys, towers, turrets and roofs, seen from above.
Music Haydn: Symphony No. 103 – III. Menuetto
The clarinets that London could boast, an advantage not available at Esterháza, enjoy some prominence in the Trio that is framed by the Minuet of the third movement of the Drum Roll Symphony.
Down the river, on the south bank, lies Greenwich, the site of a former palace, replaced in the 17th century by a new palace designed by the architect John Webb for Charles II in 1664. The building was completed by Sir Christopher Wren, who began work on it in 1694, when it became the Greenwich Hospital for disabled seamen. Recent years have brought new plans for its use. The Cutty Sark dates from 1869 and is a tea-clipper, celebrated for the speed with which she and ships like her could bring tea from China back to London.
Music Music Haydn, Symphony No. 103 – IV. Allegro con spirito
French horns introduce the final movement, with its single theme, deftly handled, and bringing the Drum Roll Symphony to a sparkling conclusion. The theme is said to have been derived from a Croatian folk-song.
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