The London St. Cecilia's Day Festivals and the Cultivation of a Godly Nation
Horner, Paula Clare
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In the late seventeenth century, major cities across England marked St. Cecilia's Day with a musical celebration. While Oxford, Winchester, and Salisbury hosted these yearly festivals with some frequency, the tradition was established most firmly in London, where St. Cecilia's Day celebrations occurred nearly every year from 1683 to 1703. An almost-annual yearly music festival spanning just two decades may not seem to merit as much consideration as later, more copious public concerts of the eighteenth century; the St. Cecilia's Day festivals, however, have much to recommend them as subjects for scholarly consideration. These festivals brought together some of England's most noteworthy artistic luminaries, both poets and composers, and served as a showcase for works which would come to make up part of the foundation of the English musical canon. Also, while the festivals did not sustain a particularly long lifespan, particularly when compared to other more seemingly significant public concert traditions in England and elsewhere, their bounded timeline serves to elucidate the particular network of political, religious, and cultural factors in place during the final two decades of the eighteenth century in England.
- Music