Beginning to explore the annual collections of Country Dances, full of references to current events, without which not fashionable music-loving home was complete.
Workshop Recording of a Selection from the 1808 Set. London 9 4 14 (For Catherine Seymour)
(I announce the titles as I play through)
Live workshop recordings from SOUNDBOX at the Royal Academy of Music Museum 29th May 2012
Peter Sheppard Skaerved-Violin
Lady Mildmay’s Waltz
In 1805 Admiral Collingwood, who was in command of the Navy after the battle of Trafalgar, was appealing to landowners to plant oaks: “What I am most anxious about” he wrote “is the plantation of oak in this country. We shall never cease to be a great people while we have ships and we cannot have ships without timber.” Lady Mildmay, who had become Lady of Hartley Wintney Manor in 1786, instructed her steward in Hartley Row to plant out acorns. From these grew the famous Mildmay or Trafalgar Oaks. This act of practical partriotism is celebrated in ‘Lady Mildmay’s Waltz’
Rosin the Bow!
The Irish poet and folk-song lyricist, Thomas Moore (179?-1852), remembered Viotti’s apparent forbearance at an evening at Fairmead Lodge, Loughton, the country house rented by the poet and soldier William Sotheby (1757-1833). Sotheby was, along with William Spencer a regular at the Gillwell House soirées, not far west of his house in Epping Forest. His children, it is reported, were treated as members of the family by the Chinnerys. Sotheby “…Begged Viotti…to bring his violin- the latter promised he would &, on his arrival, Botherby the barbarian, exclaimed ‘I am glad you are come- you’ve brought your fiddle, I hope- now, girls- where are your partners? Stand up- here’s Mr. Viotti- what dance will you have?’- Viotti, to the immortal credit of his good-nature, played country-dances for them the whole night.”
Admiral Gambier’s Waltz
I first came across Admiral Gambier in his role as ‘Dismal Jimmy’ in a 1938 Hornblower novel (I am a lifelong C S Forrester fan). However, his Waltz here commemorates his role in the disgraceful and cowardly British attack and, together with General Lord Cathcart, the fire bombing (of the poor quarter around the Nicolajkirke) of Copenhagen. This confirmed the British as (in Napoleon’s words) as ‘Perfidious Albion’, tipped the country into a crippling economic collapse, from which it took over a century to recover. He was awarded with an official thanks from Parliament, and on 3 November 1807 a peerage, becoming Baron Gambier, of Iver in the County of Buckingham, and this waltz, as a patriot.
Lord Cathcart’s Reel
In 1807 Lord Cathcart was placed in charge of the expedition to Copenhagen, and took the surrender on 6 September. For his part in this, he was created Viscount Cathcart of Cathcart and Baron Greenock of Greenock. This reel has some rather snazzy syncopation, which seems to demand some stamping….
The Surrender of Copenhagen