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date: 20 September 2020

Cecilian festivalslocked

  • W.H. Husk

Extract

Festivals held to commemorate St Cecilia's Day (22 November). The custom of celebrating the day by musical performances long existed in various countries, and many associations were formed for the purpose. The earliest recorded association was established in 1570 at Evreux, Normandy, under the title of ‘Le Puy de musique’; various liturgical performances were followed by a banquet after mass on the feast day and prizes were awarded for the best motets, partsongs, airs and sonnets.

Not until a century later was any similar association established in England. In 1683 a body known as the Musical Society initiated a series of annual celebrations in London; their practice was to hold a service (usually at St Bride's church), at which a choral service and anthem with orchestral accompaniment were performed by a large number of musicians, and a sermon, usually in defence of cathedral music, was preached. They then moved to another place (often Stationers' Hall), where an ode in praise of music, composed for the occasion, was performed. Such odes were written by Dryden (...

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