Thursday, 27 February 2014

The first ever concert

Some weeks ago, I did a blog post as part of the My Writing Process blog tour and listed some of the sound track I'd been listening to while writing Christmas at Rakehell Manor.

As you can see it's an eclectic mix :D   Many writers need silence to work and I do too, sometimes, but I find music a good way of getting my creative muse going.

These days we're fortunate enough to have music of every sort available at the push of a button, the click of a mouse or better still, live at a concert or gig.  Public concerts have been around for a while of course but it might surprise you to know that the first ever  public concert took place in 1672.  I'd love to know if there was dancing in the aisles!

John Banister * see below for image credit
It happened one late December evening at a house in Whitefriars, London.  For the first time in London, and it is believed in the world, a public concert was given at which people paid at the door.  The Restoration of Charles II to the throne had seen a rise in enthusiasm for opera and a composer and violinist John Banister, a
protege of the King, began a series of organised concerts.

Banister charged the princely sum of one shilling for entry to a large room where the audience sat at tables, arranged as they would have been in an alehouse.   The musicians on the small stage, led by Banister, accepted requests for particular music and 'very good musick' was said to have been played during the next few years.  Public concerts and recitals rapidly gained further popularity with the opening of the new pleasure gardens in London.

When the pioneering Banister died in 1679, an unlikely figure emerged to carry on his work.  Thomas Britton
was a coalman in Clerkenwell - by day he walked the streets selling coal, by night he indulged his passion for music over a rented stable off St. John's Square.  For the next 36 years the concerts he staged there every Thursday night had a great influence on the spread of popular music.

Thomas Britton (Wikimedia Commons)
Britton was self taught and also built most of the musical instruments he and his fellow musicians used.  Initially he didn't charge for his concerts, asking only one penny for a cup of coffee.  Later he asked for a subscription of just ten shillings a year and by then some of London most famous musicians, including Handel, were climbing the stairs to perform at Britton's loft.

And, since I couldn't possibly end this blog post without some music *g*, here's my latest listen, a fabulous ear worm that makes me smile from the new album 'Man on the Rocks' by Mike Oldfield.  This track is called 'Sailing' and features great vocals by Luke Spiller from The Struts :)

* Image of John Banister copyright National Portrait Gallery, used under Creative Commons Licence.

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