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Article

Curtis Price

(fl 1770–93). Italian librettist and journalist. He was in London by 1769, when he wrote the libretto for Pugnani’s comic opera Nanetta e Lubino. Probably supplementing his income by translating and teaching Italian, Badini wrote a few librettos for the King’s Theatre during the 1770s, including Le pazzie di Orlando (set by P.A. Guglielmi in 1771), a witty, ambitious work which Nunziato Porta adapted for Haydn as Orlando paladino (1782, Eszterháza). Badini’s other works from this period include Il disertore (1770), set by Guglielmi and revived in Lisbon in 1772, and L’ali d’amore (1776), which was set by Venanzio Rauzzini.

An early sign of Badini’s individuality is found in the libretto for Bertoni’s La governante, a free translation of the English dialogue opera The Duenna by R.B. Sheridan. While Badini retained many of Sheridan’s lyrics, he reworked the drama into a typical three-act burletta whose arias, unlike Sheridan’s, advance the plot. Another example of Badini’s interest in English drama is ...

Article

Iain Fenlon

(Marc’Antonio)

(b Turin, April 25, 1719; d Marylebone, London, May 5, 1789). Italian man of letters. His Fetonte sulle rive del Po was set by G.A. Giai (1750, Turin). In January 1751 he left Italy, where he had a considerable literary reputation, for an appointment at the Italian Opera in London. Shortly after his arrival he wrote two facetious pamphlets relating to a dispute between the actors and the lessee of the Opera. He adapted selected odes of Horace as a sort of Masonic oratorio. Seeking a composer able to avoid the vocal clichés and long ritornellos of Italian opera and ‘to temper alternately the solemnity of church music with the brilliancy of the theatrical’, Baretti chose Philidor, with whom he discussed ‘every syllable … with respect to the best way of expressing musically the meaning of Horace’. Carmen saeculare was performed in London in 1779 and in Paris the year after. Baretti wrote in his copy of Johnson’s ...

Article

Rudolph Angermüller

revised by Philip E.J. Robinson

[Caron de]

(b Paris, Jan 24, 1732; d Paris, May 18, 1799). French writer. The son of a clockmaker, he defended his invention of a watch escapement mechanism against theft by the royal clockmaker Lepaute, whom he replaced at court in 1755. He subsequently became harp teacher to the daughters of Louis XV and, thanks to contact with the homme d’affaires Pâris-Duverney, was ultimately able to buy himself into the nobility. In his Essai sur le genre dramatique sérieux (1767), the preface to his Eugénie, he took up the ideas of Diderot in favour of a distinct genre of drame, different from both French classical tragedy and comedy. His works in this genre outnumber his Figaro comedies, and even these show its influence: he returned to it fully in the third Figaro play, La mère coupable (1792). His racy parades, playlets written for the high-society private stage, served as an apprenticeship in comic musical theatre, particularly in the use of vaudevilles (well-known tunes sung, as part of the dramatic text, to new words). ...

Article

Linda Troost

(John)

(b ?Dublin, Sept 26, 1733; d ?1808). English playwright of Irish birth. He served in the army before moving to London and drew on his military experience in his libretto for the patriotic afterpiece Thomas and Sally (1760). His successful Covent Garden piece Love in a Village (1762) started a new fashion in opera, as The Beggar’s Opera had done decades earlier. He combined a witty, romantic plot in spoken dialogue with sophisticated music drawn from continental comic opera. The pasticcio score is derived mostly from Italian opera, from oratorio, and from the songs of Thomas Arne, but uses little traditional English music, which Bickerstaff despised. As in ballad opera, the songs help to advance the action, but they also demand well-trained singers and full orchestral accompaniment.

Bickerstaff’s innovation spread quickly in the London theatre. He continued to vary the form: The Maid of the Mill...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], Nov 15, 1735; d Berlin, Nov 10, 1799). German playwright. He fled his family business at the age of 18 and eventually joined an itinerant theatrical company. He was an indifferent actor but won considerable popularity as a playwright. In May 1772 he and his actress wife Charlotte, then both with the Seyler company in Weimar, saw the first German melodrama, Anton Schweitzer’s setting (now lost) of Rousseau’s Pygmalion, in translation. Using H. W. von Gerstenberg’s tragic cantata Ariadne auf Naxos as a model, Brandes prepared a dramatic scene in the new genre to display Charlotte’s abilities. Schweitzer temporized in setting Brandes’s text, and after the troupe moved to Gotha it was given to the court Kapellmeister there, Georg Benda. The première of Ariadne auf Naxos on 27 January 1775 was a resounding success, mainly because of Benda’s music and Charlotte’s acting. Brandes wrote a second melodrama for his wife while he was theatrical director at Dresden in ...

Article

Olive Baldwin and Thelma Wilson

(b London, Feb 4, 1723; d London, Aug 4, 1792). English dramatist . ‘Gentleman Johnny’ Burgoyne, the English general forced to surrender to the Americans at Saratoga (1777), was the librettist of William Jackson’s only successful opera, The Lord of the Manor (1780), in the preface to which he advocated English ‘musical comedy’. Garrick’s staging of his first dramatic piece, ...

Article

Richard Taruskin

[née Sophie Auguste Fredericke von Anhalt-Zerbst]

(b Stettin [now Szczecin], 21 April/May 2, 1729; d Tsarskoye Selo, 6/Nov 17, 1796). Empress of Russia. She acceded in 1762 following a palace coup against her husband Peter III, and became known as ‘Catherine the Great’. Continuing the policy of her predecessors, the empresses Anna (reigned 1730–40) and Elizabeth (1741–61), she maintained a court opera theatre staffed by Italians, personally patronizing Cimarosa, Paisiello, Galuppi and Sarti, as well as her special favourite, the italianized Spaniard Martín y Soler. She also patronized comic opera in the vernacular and encouraged native talent to apply itself to this genre. Among the talents she nurtured was her own very modest one as a dramatist, which she exercised, as she put it to a friend, for the sake of relaxation and distraction from affairs of state. With the assistance of two literary secretaries, Ivan Yelagin and Alexander Khrapovitsky, she wrote three volumes of Russian plays and a fourth in French....

Article

(b Tondern, Jan 3, 1727; d Altona, Nov 1, 1823). German poet, critic and musician. From 1757 he studied law at Jena, where inspired by such literary associates as Claudius, Münter and J.L. Schlosser he began his own poetic creations. In 1759, after the considerable success of his dramatic poem Tändeleyen (part of which was later set as a cantata by C.P.E. Bach), he abandoned law in favour of Danish military service, participating in the Russian campaign of 1762 and eventually settling in Copenhagen for about 12 years. There he became the close friend of Klopstock, studied music with J.A. Scheibe, and instituted a series of musical evenings at his home, attended equally by poets and musicians, in which he himself sometimes performed and sang. This custom was continued after he moved to Lübeck as ‘Danish Resident’ in 1775. Financial considerations forced him to sell this position in ...

Article

Thomas Bauman

(b Vienna, Sept 27, 1735; d Vienna, July 30, 1764). German playwright. He served as a secretary in the Viennese municipal court during his short life, and wrote a series of successful plays that developed a distinctively Viennese brand of written comedy out of local improvisatory traditions. His lone musical text, the three-act Zauberlustspiel ...

Article

Judith Tick

revised by Laurie Blunsom

(Dorothea )

(b Liverpool, England, Sept 25, 1793; d Dublin, Ireland, May 16, 1835). English poet. She spent most of her life in Wales and became well known in literary circles, being much admired by Byron, Scott, Shelley, and Wordsworth. Her works were extremely popular at home and abroad, notably in the United States before the Civil War. She rivaled Thomas Moore in the extent to which her works were included in literary anthologies and equaled Tennyson in the degree to which her poems became part of the conventional education of American youth. “Cassabianca” (The boy stood on the burning deck) and “Pilgrim Fathers” (The breaking waves dash high) were standard school recitations until the early 20th century. Four collected editions of Hemans’s verse appeared in the United States between 1825 and 1850. Her importance to American musical life lies in the settings made of her poetry by her sister, Harriet Mary Browne (later Mrs. Hughes, ...

Article

(b Nancy, July 11, 1760; d Passy, nr Paris, April 25, 1828). French librettist, critic and playwright. After winning the Nancy Académie’s poetry prize in 1784, he decided to follow a literary career in Paris. The patronage of Megret de Serilly, trésorier général de la guerre, helped him to achieve his first major public success: Phèdre, set by Lemoyne in 1786, was given its première at Fontainebleau. After a trip to Italy in 1787, Hoffman and Lemoyne collaborated again: Nephté was praised for its dramatic integrity, although it did not remain in the repertory long. The two fell out. Hoffman offered his next libretto, Adrien, first to Cherubini (who declined it, but accepted the next, Médée) and then to Méhul, who became his favourite partner during the 1790s.

In 1789–90 Hoffman had the first of many disagreements with theatres. He opposed the Opéra’s wish to add what he felt were unsuitable ...

Article

Julian Rushton

(b Belfort, 1713; d Paris, Dec 19, 1779). French writer. He left the Jesuit order, in which he was educated, and devoted himself to the literature, theatre, and opera of Paris. He wrote a comedy and two librettos for Leclair, translated the works of Pope, edited literary periodicals and contributed to the Mercure de France; his published work consists chiefly of anthologies and chronicles of the Paris theatres, with valuable details of plays and operas, authors, performers and receipts.

only those relating to music included

Almanach historique et chronologique de tous les spectacles de Paris, 1 (1752); Nouveau calendrier historique des théâtres de l'opéra et des comédies françoise et italienne et des foires, ii (1753); Spectacles de Paris, ou Suite du Calendrier historique et chronologique des théâtres, iii–xxvii (1754–78) [continued after 1778 by Duchesne and others] with J.B.A. Suard: Nouveaux choix de pièces tirées des anciens Mercures et des autres journeaux...

Article

(b Brussels, May 23, 1735; d Vienna, Dec 13, 1814). Flemish writer. As the head of one of the most prominent aristocratic families in the southern Netherlands, he had a primarily military and diplomatic career in the service of Austria. His wit and his cheerful disposition won him the friendship of writers (including Voltaire, Rousseau, Casanova and Goethe) and of monarchs (Catherine II, Frederick II, Joseph II and Louis XVI). He expressed his ideas on the theatre in his Lettres à Eugénie sur les spectacles (1774, 2/1796). He himself wrote some 30 dramatic works, including masquerades performed in Brussels and comédies mêlées d'ariettes et de vaudevilles intended for society theatres (Colette et Lucas, 1779; Le désenchantement des compagnons d'Ulysse, 1796; La noce interrompue, 1796; Le sultan du Congo, ou Mangogoul, 1796). During the 1770s he was involved in the financial and artistic management of the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels, which experienced a period of unprecedented brilliance at this time. His ...

Article

Howard Serwer

(b Seehof, nr Wendemark, Brandenburg, Nov 21, 1718; d Berlin, May 22, 1795). German critic, journalist, theorist and composer. Gerber claimed that Marpurg had told him that he lived in Paris around 1746; Carl Spazier confirmed this, adding that Marpurg was friendly with Voltaire, D'Alembert and others when he was secretary to a ‘General Bodenburg’. This is generally assumed to refer to Generallieutenant Friedrich Rudolph Graf von Rothenburg, a favourite of Frederick the Great and Prussian emissary to Paris in 1744–5, and the dedicatee of Marpurg's Der critische Musicus an der Spree (1749–50).

From 1749 to 1763 Marpurg devoted himself almost exclusively to writing and editing books and periodicals about music and to composing and editing lieder and works for keyboard. In 1752, at the request of the heirs of J.S. Bach, he wrote a notable preface for a new edition of Die Kunst der Fuge...

Article

Julian Rushton

( b Montpellier, c 1740; d Paris, Feb 19, 1821). French writer . He studied arts at Avignon and law in Paris, but adopted literature as a profession. With deplorable fecundity, he contributed to every fashionable stage genre, including tragedy, comedy of manners, bourgeois drama and Revolutionary sansculottide. He was advocate to the parlement, then secretary to the Convention (1792–4). Among his few, generally poor, librettos, two were outstandingly successful at the Opéra: the adaptation of Calzabigi for Gluck's Orphée (1774), and the most important stage work of J.-F. Edelmann, Ariane dans l'isle de Naxos (1782). He also wrote the texts for Edelmann's Diane et l’amour (1802) and Candeille's pastoral Laure et Pétrarque (1778); he adapted Vadé's text for a revision of Gluck's L'arbre enchanté (Versailles, 1775), and translated Paisiello's Il re Teodoro in Venezia for Fontainebleau (1786...

Article

(b Obersontheim, Swabia, March 24, 1739; d Stuttgart, Oct 10, 1791). German poet, journalist, writer on music and composer. Although his literary and musical talents manifested themselves in early youth, his parents decided that he should study theology. He received his preparatory education in Nördlingen and Nuremberg, music instruction from his father and the Nuremberg composer G.W. Gruber, and entered Erlangen University in 1758. At Erlangen he was often in trouble with the university authorities, and in 1760 he returned to his parents' home in Aalen. From 1763 to 1769 he was organist and preceptor in Geisslingen. In 1769 he obtained an organist position in Ludwigsburg, the residence of the Duke of Württemberg, and he was also employed by the court as harpsichordist at the opera house and instructor in music. However, he led a dissolute life, and in 1773 was banished from Württemberg. In 1774 he moved to Augsburg, where he established his ...

Article

(b Dresden, 1738; d Schleswig, Nov 22, 1789). German actress and writer. At the end of an unhappy childhood she took to the stage. In 1754 she married the actor Hensel, but they separated three years later. She worked with various troupes and appeared several times in Vienna. After the collapse of the Hamburg Nationaltheater, she took up with the impresario Abel Seyler in 1769, and married him three years later, by which time she was recognized as Germany’s foremost tragedienne. Lessing praised her passionate and majestic acting at Hamburg, and Benda and F. W. Gotter wrote their chilling melodrama Medea to set off her skills in 1775. At the end of her career she wrote a five-act libretto Hüon und Amande, based on Wieland’s epic poem Oberon and set by the Schleswig music director Karl Hanke in 1789. The text was adapted for Paul Wranitzky shortly thereafter by Gieseke as ...

Article

Jamie C. Kassler

(b Norfolk, 1702; d London, Dec 15, 1771). English naturalist and amateur musician. In 1724, after studying classics and mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, he became tutor to William Windham in Felbrig, Norfolk. In 1737 he embarked with his pupil on a tour of the Continent. From 1738 to about 1742 he and Windham, with Robert Price and others, formed a common room in Geneva for the purpose of performing plays. Stillingfleet, Windham and Price supplied the music, scenery and machines, and Gaspard Fritz led the orchestra. He returned to England in 1743 and in 1761 removed from London to Price's estate at Foxley, Herefordshire, where the two men wrote librettos for J.C. Smith, who visited Foxley in about 1758. Influenced by Price's explication of Rameau's theories, Stillingfleet undertook a partial translation of Giueseppe Tartini's Trattato di musica (Padua, 1754), with comments interspersed. To this he added a long appendix on the origin, power and efficacy of music, based on the doctrine of moral sentiment of Francis Hutcheson. Published anonymously in ...

Article

Philip Downs

(b Twickenham, Jan 8, 1735; d Colchester, Aug 6, 1804). English clergyman and amateur musician. As the eldest son, Twining was intended to enter the tea business founded by his grandfather, but his distaste for business and aptitude for scholarship took him to Cambridge University in 1755. There he became acquainted with the poet Thomas Gray, who modified his antiquarian tastes in music and made him aware of Pergolesi and the moderns. As a result of his classical studies Twining was vastly knowledgeable about ancient music, and he helped extensively in the preparation of the first volume of Charles Burney's History (1776), which would have had a completely different complexion without Twining's input in planning and content. It is possible that Burney might never have written beyond the first volume without the encouragement of Twining, whose humour and common sense enabled him to help Burney through deep depressions experienced during the writing. He refused Burney permission to mention the debt owed to him. An equal diffidence inhibited his desire to publish his own work. His translation of Aristotle's ...