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Saint Cecilia's Hall in the Niddry Wynd
Chapter VIII The Rise and Development of the Concert in Edinburgh


It is highly natural to look to the period immediately following the restoration of the Stuarts in order to find the first mention of such a thing as a concert in Edinburgh; nor are we surprised to discover that it is in the Palace of Holyrood, and there in the tennis-court by the Watergate, that both the drama and the concert of the Scottish metropolis may be said to have taken origin.

It is almost certain that, previously to the arrival of the Duke of York in 1679 as Commissioner from King Charles 11. to his Scottish Parliament, theatrical representations had taken place under royal patronage in this same tennis-court of Holyrood.

VIi., in 1592, certainly permitted an English company of actors sent to Scotland by Queen Elizabeth to play here; and there are some who contend that on their visit in 1601, Shakespeare himself was a member of this company, which included his friend Burbage, and that therefore, in all probability, Shakespeare acted along with him in this very place. There are descriptions in Macbeth explicable only on the supposition that Shakespeare did actually in his flesh see portions of Perthshire and Elgin. This company went to Perth, and some maintain it travelled even further north.

These were, of course, not by any means the first courtly revels that Holyrood had seen, for Queen Mary had got up a masked ball in which, to the everlasting scandalisation of her subjects, some of the ladies of the household had appeared in complete male costume. This, no doubt, was dramatic, but not ‘legitimate drama.1 The Duke and Duchess of York (Mary d’Este) and their daughter Anne (the Lady or Princess Anne, later Queen Anne) were in the habit of acting along with the household such pieces as Dryden’s Indian Emperor and The Spanish Friar in the tennis-court, no doubt in presence of the nobility and gentry who at that time constituted the society of Edinburgh and Canongate.

Dryden himself notices the emigration to Edinburgh of certain lights in the literary and artistic world when he says :—

‘Our brethren have from Thames to Tweed departed, To Edinburgh gone, or washed or carted.’

In addition to plays, concerts seem to have been given, if not in the tennis-courtj then under the direct patronage of the. ducal ‘set.’ I5ut the earliest distinct mention in Old Edinburgh records of a concert of music seems to be one quoted by Chambers in his Domestic Annals of Scotland'.—‘A man named Beck, with some associates, had now (1694) erected a concert of music.’

The fact that in the following year, 1695, there was given at Holyrood on St. Cecilia’s Day, November 22nd, a fairly ambitious instrumental concert, with more amateurs than professionals in it, proves to us that music had had others than Beck to woo it with notable success.

Of this festival concert we have two accounts—the earliest from the pen of William Tytler of Woouhouselee, who wrote in 1792/ and a much later one by Robert Chambers in his Domestic Annals.

Tytler calls his paper, ‘On the fashionable amusements and entertainments in Edinburgh in the last century, with a plan of a grand concert of music on St. Cecilia’s Day, 1695.’

Although the author had certainly not been present, he had, writing in 1792, sources of information for ever lost to us now, in which connection it may be mentioned that he knew Andrew Dickson, the Duke of York’s golf-c.addie on Leith Links.

The article, a gossipy and readable one, begins by saying that a hundred years before, i6qo, there was a great taste for music in the Scottish metropolis, and contrasts that condition with the ‘present languid spirit of music.’ The orchestra was made up of over thirty performers, nineteen of whom were gentlemen of the ‘first rank and fashion, ’while the eleven professionals were ‘masters of music.’ The players were divided thus: of first violins, seven; of second violins, five; of flutes, six; of hautbois, two; of violoncellos and viol-da-gambas, five; and there was one harpsichord. The pieces played were chiefly nwtetti of Bassani and the. sonatas of Corelli.

Amongst the amateurs were Lord Colville of Ochiltree, Lord Elcho, Mr. John Middleton (afterwards General Middleton), Sir John Pringle, Mr. Seton of Pitmedden, Mr. Falconer of Phesdo, Mn Carse, Keeper of Parliamentary Records, and a Mr. W. Thomson. These gentlemen are described as skilled in music, and goud players on the violin, harpsichord, flute, and hautbois.

The concert was arranged and conducted by Henry Crumbden, a German, ‘long,’ says Chambers, ‘the Orpheus in the musical school of Edinburgh.’

Amongst the gentlemen, Christie of Newhall played the viol-da-gamba, Seton of Pitinedden one of the first violins. Robert, Lord Colville of Ochiltree, a great musical enthusiast, is reported to have ‘understood counterpoint well.’ His instruments were the harpsichord and organ, and while in Italy he had gathered together a very large collection of music. Defoe in his poem Caledonia, Fartin., thus alludes to him:—

‘The God of Musick joyns when Colville plays,
And all the Muses dance to Haddington’s essays.’

He died unmarried in 1728, having been a peer for fifty-seven years.

Sir Gilbert Elliot of Minto, another Scottish amateur, was the first to introduce the German flute into Scotland.

Amongst the professionals was Daniel Thomson, one of the king’s trumpeters, father of William Thomson, a boy at the time of the concert in 1695. William Thomson in 1725 published in London the first collection of Scots songs set to music, the appearance of which is believed to have created the English rage for Scottish music which did undoubtedly exist from this date onward. The volume is entitled, Orpheus Caledonius, or, A Collection of the best Scotch Songs set to musick by W. Thomson, London: engraved and printed for the author at his house in Leicester Fields.

It contains fifty songs, and is dedicated to the Princess of Wales, afterwards Queen Caroline; seven of the tunes are attributed to Rizzio, but in the second (1733) edition this is omitted. William Thomson had a very fine voice, and was often invited to the Court to sing Scots songs there.

Through the courtesy of the Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer, search in the records of the Exchequer Office at Edinburgh has discovered that ‘Daniel Thomson, musician in Edinburgh,’ received his commission as State Trumpeter dated 28th February 1705-1706.

To give any account, however fragmentary, of the history of musical literature in Scotland is outside the scope of this work, but we may notice the works produced by other two musicians who played in that long-forgotten St. Cecilia Festival concert.

Of Adam Craig, Mr. Tytler says he ‘was reckoned a good orchestra player on the violin and teacher of music. I remember him as the second vioiin to M'Gibbon in the Gentlemen’s Concert.’ (This was the concert in Steil’s tavern and in Mary’s Chapel.)

In 1730, Adam Craig published at Edinburgh lA Collection of the Choicest Scots Tunes, adapted for the Harp or Spinnet, and within the compass of the Voice, Violin, or German Flute, by Adam Craig, Edinburgh, 1730. R. Cooper, fecit. Entered in Stationers’ Hall.’ (Oblong, folio.)

It is dedicated ‘To the Honourable Lords and Gentlemen of the Musical Society of Mary's Chappell,’ as the ‘generous encouragers and promoters of music.’ Craig died at the Borough rnuirhead, near Edinburgh, in September 1741, and was buried in Grey friars’ Churchyard, the following being a copy of the entry of his interment from the books of the records, kindly extracted by Mr. J. G. Ferguson, Keeper of the Records:—

‘Sep. 3rd, 1741.

Adam Craig. Musician.

4. D. P. E. ye corner Foulis Tombr'

William M‘Gibbon, the son of a performer in this concert, Matthew M‘Gibbon, was a violinist and composer born about the beginning of the eighteenth century. Between 1740 and 1755, M'Gibbon issued three books of collections of Scottish tunes, as well as a set of sonatas or solos for a German flute or violin. M'Gibbon, who had studied the violin under Corbet !n London, was leader of the Gentlemen’s Concerts in Edinburgh. William M'Gibbon also wrote dances and flute music. Robert Fergusson has a poem which makes reference to the death of William M'Gibbon. The following is the entry of interment from the Greyfriars’ records:—

‘1756. October 5th.

Mr. William M'Gibbon. Musician.

4. L. P. E. Drummond’s Tomb.’

For a complete history of Scottish musical literature consult Stenhouse, Lyric Poetry and Altzsi: of Scotland} We are still in point of date in 1695, nor do we find any mention of music till at the end of the second decade of the following century, if we except the mention of a concert in the tennis-court arranged by a Mr. Abel in 1705 under the patronage of the Duke of Argyll. In 1718, of those who played in 1695 there were still alive and in Edinburgh only Adam Craig, second violin at the Gentlemen’s Concerts, and William M'Gibbon, now leader and first vio’.in, reported as playing Corelli, Geminiani, and Handel with great skill.

In the Edinburgh Con rant for July 12 th, 1720, we find a quaint paragraph to the effect that Mr. Gordon, who had lately been travelling in Italy for his improvement in music, was daily expected 'n Edinburgh, accompanied by Signor Lorenzo Bocchi, who is considered the second master of the violoncello in Europe and the fittest hand to join Mr. Gordon's voice in the * consorts ’ with which he designs to entertain his friends before ‘the rising of the session.’

This Mr. Gordon evidently remained in Edinburgh after his arrival with Bocchi, for we are told that in May 1722 he was invited by several Glasgow gentlemen to give a ‘consort’ in that city.

This he did, and immediately afterwards he published ‘Proposals for the improvement of music in Scotland, together with a most reasonable and easy scheme for establishing a pastoral opera in Edinburgh.’

Without doubt the period from 1695 to about 1725 is, relatively speaking, destitute of musical incident. But the reason is not far to seek: the times were socially very unsettled: in comparatively few years a series of changes effected not without much heartburning had swept over Edinburgh, giving her ciuzens much graver things to think of than plays or concerts.

The affable Duke of York—for he had always treated the Scottish nobility with courteous consideration—had left Holyrood to assume the crown left him by his gay brother; and thus by 1685, James, Duke of York, was James the Seventh and Second—papist and bigot.

By 1688 the Revolution had occurred, and William and Mary ascended the throne of Great Britain. by 1702 Queen Anne had begun to reign.

The years that closed the seventeenth and ushered in tne eighteenth century were years full of too much political fermentation to afford the necessary tranquillity for the growth of any very generally shared artistic life in the Scottish capital.

For many were the sources of unrest abroad there were the Jacobites just rising into existence, ready to recall the abdicated James; the Whigs staunch in their support of the Protestant Succession—was it not the collision of these parties that stained the Garry blood-red at Killiecrankie?—there were very numerous religious disturbances, protests and persecutions, that made the martyr’s cry as common as the peewit’s upon the moors of Scotland, that kept up a constant supply of heads for the Tolbooth and the Nether Bow Port; and there had just occurred the Union, than which no political proposal had ever before so shaken the whole nation to its deepest depths with a more genuine alarm,—little wonder then that music did verily languish in the old metropolis.

For at this time, whatever happened either in London or in Scotland’s remotest glen at once affected her capital. Four monarchs within twenty years—that could not but affect her somewhat; the Scottish Privy Council in that grim old subterranean chamber—with cultured Rosehaugh, scheming Queensberry, and wily old Tarbat—taking cognisance of every psalm sung by every old Cameronian in the wilds of Galloway,— all these things kept Edinburgh, the seat of Government, of Law, of Ecclesiastical Congress, in a state of constant commotion.

By 1710 or so, things had quieted down somewhat: the Edinburgh of Queen Anne was beginning to establish its reputation for learning, legal lore, culture, wit, and conviviality; and hence, with a return to more tranquil conditions, we find the sweet science of music claiming her own. It was not to be expected that her harmonies could co-exist with the discords of political and ecclesiastical strife.

About this time a number of gentlemen, musical amateurs, had been in the habit of assembling in the long evenings of the northern winter to practise pieces on their violins in one of the taverns patronised by the majority of their ‘set.’ For Edinburgh has always been dominated by ‘sets’—legal, ecclesiastical, medical, professorial, artistic, and so on; and each had its own ‘seat of election’ in a tavern, or club-house, as we would now call its modem representative.

Their name is legion, these out-of-the-way, almost subterranean, dimly lighted taverns—one noted for its particular kind of ale, another for its good-looking landlady, another for the eccentricity of its host, another for its oysters and porter, another because on such-and-such a day in each week, such-and such a club would get drunk in it.

The names of some of them are of the web and woof of Old Edinburgh story: Dawnie Douglas’s, headquarters of the ‘Crochallan Fencibles’; Johnnie Dowie’s of Liberton’s Wynd, called the ‘Coffin,’ and a ‘howff’ successively of Fergusson and Burns; Lucky Fykie’s ‘ o’ the Patter-ra’’; the ‘Star and Garter,’ kept by Cleriheugh in Writer’s Court—the Cleriheugh’s of Guy Afannering, and the scene of Councillor Pleydell’s 'high jinks’; Steil’s or the ‘Cross Keys’; Fortune’s, and a score of others. The mention of a tavern called the ‘Cross Keys’ brings us to the establishment in 1725 of the first musical society in Scotland, with the title, naturally enough, of ‘The Musical Society of Edinburgh.’

Now, there were in Old Edinburgh two taverns with the sign of the ‘Cross Keys,’one Fortune’s tavern in Old Stamp Office Close, the other Steil’s or Steel’s in the Old Assembly Close, as we now call it, or Steil’s Close, as it was then called.

We have no great difficulty in deciding in which of these two houses of entertainment the old amateur orchestral society used to meet, because the house known about 1760 to 1770 as ‘Fortune’s tavern of the Cross Keys’ was at the earlier epoch (1725) the town residence of the Earls of Eglinton.

On the other hand we have, relatively speaking, not a little direct evidence as to the other ‘Cross Keys,’ kept by one Patrick or ‘Pate’ Steil, who was not only a performer on the violin, but maker of that instrument and a judge of musical instruments in general. His tavern (the original fabric of it) perished in a great lire in 1708, but of course the close was rebuilt: it was therefore the old tavern of Steil’s that Dr. Archibald Pitcairne, who died in 1713, praises in his

Latin poems upon the houses of public entertainment in the Edinburgh of his day. ‘ At one time,’ he says, ‘ you may be delighted with the bowls of Steil of the Cross Keys.3 Pitcairne was a poet, and presumably artistic and a Bohemian; he therefore would find congenial company at a place where the landlord, who was musical, had guests who were also amateur musicians. Dr. Pitcairne, a fervent admirer of the ladies, could meet them here, for it is recorded that ladies were guests at the concert in Steil’s tavern, since ‘ it was a point of re-union for the beau monde of Edinburgh in days while as yet there were neither theatres nor balls.’

More, however, is known as to Patrick Steil himself. John Reid in his New Lights on Old Edinburgh—a book which does not belie its title so far as our present topic is concerned—assures us that from title-deeds to Old Edinburgh properties, ‘Robert Mylne of Balfargie’ and 'Patrick Steil, Merchant Burgess,’ were about the year 1681 heritable proprietors of certain houses west of Writer’s Court. In other words, Steil was not a nobody in Queen Anne’s Edinburgh.

It would be strange if Allan Ramsay, a poet and a convivial man, had not something to say of this Steil’s. He does indeed mention a Steil’s as a tavern that he knew, but he leaves us no clear idea as to which close or wynd it was hidden in; yet as the name cannot have been common, we are proliably not far wrong in thinking that Ramsay too has written of Pate’s.

But Patrick Steil was more than a landlord and a musician: he was in 1681 one of the captains in the ‘Trained Bands’ of Edinburgh. It is recorded that he had assigned to his care ‘ The west side of Warriston’s Close and ending with Archibald Douglas on the west side of the Old Provost’s’ (Fleshmarket Close).

Further, on one occasion during Steil’s captaincy, the trained bands met in the tavern in question in Steil’s Close. This had been previously known as ‘ Durie’s Close,’ from its having contained the mansion of Sir Alexander (iibson of Durie, Lord Durie, wnose house stood on the site on which the Assembly Rooms were afterwards erected.

At a still earlier date, in the middle of the sixteenth century, this same close had been known as ‘Little’s Close,’ from Clement Little, brother of the well-known provost of that name. Perhaps the most recent mention of this tavern under the up-to-date spelling ‘Steel’s’ is in Omond’s life of Fletcher of Saltoun The author conjectures that the Scottish patriot may have been arrested in this tavern on the eve of his duel with the Earl of Roxburgh. Fletcher of Saltoun was a great friend of Pitcairne; and as Pitcairne was an habitual of Steil’s tavern, it is most likely that they met in this place—no great distance from the Parliament Hall, whence Fletcher had just come to take rest after passing through one of its stormiest Union debates.

But finally, Chambers has no doubt whatever as to Steil’s being a tavern frequented by politicians, and the scene of the founding of the Musical Society of Edinburgh, for, writing of the exciting days just before the Union was consummated, he says —

'Politicians met in taverns to discuss the affairs of State. One situated in the High Street, kept by Patrick Steil, was the resort of a number of patriots who urged on the “Act of Security” and resisted the Union, and the phrase “Pate Steil’s Parliament ” occasionally appears in the correspondence of the time. It was in the same place that the weekly concert was commenced.’

This was in 1725 : to whom then does the following announcement in the Caledonian Mircury of February 1729 have reference?—‘A sale by auction of the haiil pictures, prints, music-books, and musical instruments belonging to Mr .John Steil.’ Very probably to a son or other relative of Patrick, who had, we may suppose, assumed the business on the death or retirement of Steil the elder. The mention of the music is too significant to allow us to imagine that it was the property of any other family of Steil.

Signor Bocchi had been in Edinburgh for some years previously to 1726, and not idle either, for we read in the Caledonian Mercury of February 22nd, 1726, that ‘ Signor Lorenzo Bocchi has published an opera of his own composition by subscription, containing twelve sonatas or solos for different instruments, viz. a violin, flute, violoncello, viol-de-gamba, and Scots cantate with instrumental parts after the Italian manner, the words by Mr. Ramsay, with a Thorow Bass for the Harpsichord. Subscribers may have their copies at Mr. John Steill’s any time before the first of March ensuing.’ This is the same work that figures in Allan Ramsay’s poems as ‘A Scots Cantata, music by L. Bocchi.’ The Caledonian Mercury, June 1729, mentions a concert of Bocchi’s in the ‘Taylois’ Hall,’ Cowgate.

By 1728 the Society had become sufficiently established to give weekly performances of vocal and instrumental music.

They were henceforth to be known as the ‘Gentlemen’s Concerts,’ but, as we have seen, ladies were frequently guests. At this time the society numbered about seventy persons, not indeed all of them amateur, for they had engaged such professionals as could be procured to assist them in rendering on violin and harpsichord the sonatas of Corelli, and the just-published concertos and overtures of Handel.

But by this time the Society had evidently found their old quarters in Steil’s tavern too confined, for in this year they moved to a place better suited to their purpose—St. Mary’s Chapel in the Niddry Wynd. In the first two chapters we mentioned this old place, long ago demolished; but it is to the concert here that Ramsay alludes n the lines on the fly-leaf of this book:—

‘Our concert now nae mair the ladies mind,
They’ve a' forgot the gait to Niddery’s Wynd’;

and it is this St. Mary’s Chapel that he describes when he writes of Oswald :—

'No more thy solemn bass’s awful sound Shali from the ChapeVs -vaulted roof rebound.’

From the account by Maitland which we give in Chapter vi., it appears that in 1728 the Musical Society or Club was re-organised and its membership extended. Here then, from 1728 to 1762, did all that was brightest and best in Scottish music flourish m peace; here it was that the newly-published oratorios of Handel were performed for the first time in Scotland. Thus Adam Craig in 1730 dedicates his Collection of Scots Tunes for the Spinet to the lords and gentlemen of the Musical Society of St. Mary's Chappell. It is to this period of the existence of the Musical Society— the St. Mary’s Chapel period—that the musical publications of Maclean, Oswald, M'Gibbon, Barsanti, and Bremner belong.

Maclean’s is ‘dedicated to the Honourable the Governor and Members of the Musical Society.’ Oswald’s collections were published by him after he left Edinburgh for London, which move was the cause of Ramsay’s lament for him, a portion of which we have already quoted.

The St. Mary’s Chapel period of the Edinburgh concerts is by no means destitute of professional musicians, both British and foreign, who sojourned here fora time and left their names in the city’s annals.

Two of them, Lamps and Pasquali, entered Edinburgh to visit it, but they died there and were buried within its gates.

Johann Friedrich Lampe was born in the year 1703 at Helmstadt in Saxony, and died at Edinburgh on July 25th, 1751. In 1725, on coming to England, he was engaged as ‘ bassoon-player at the Opera,’ where Handel’s then quite new operas were being given.

In London he married Isabella Young, sister of Mrs. Thomas Augustine Arne, and daughter of Charles Young, organist of All Hallows’, Barking, London. A burlesque opera, entitled The Dragon of Watttzey, which he composed about this time to words of Carey’s, was a distinct success.

The Edinburgh Evening Courant of February 2ist, 1751, announced that there was to be performed, a day or two later, ‘at the benefit of Mr. Storer, in the Concert Hall in the Canongate, a burlesque opera called The Dragoti of Wantley. The Musick composed by Mr. Lamp.’

Lampe, accompanied by his wife, arrived in Edinburgh in 1750 on their way from Dublin, whither they had gone in 1748.

Lampe attempted to introduce in Edinburgh open-air concerts, which doubtless were as common in his day in the ‘Fatherland’ as in ours, but from his very announcement it would seem that he had misgivings as to the success of the al fresco under our grey sky. His advertisement in the Edinburgh Evening Courant of June 3rd, 1757, is:—‘Mr. Lampe proposes to hold his first concert to-morrow, the 4th June, in Heriot’s Gardens at 6 in the evening, in case the weather is not unfavourable.’

But Mrs. Lampe was not silent, as the following announcement from the same newspaper testifies, March 12th, 1751:—‘For the benefit of Mr. Lampe, at the Concert Hall in the Cowgate on Wednesdaj 13th, will be performed a concert of music, after the first part of the concert, Shakespeare’s King John.

To which will be added (gratis) the opera of operas called Tom Thumb the Great. The music performed by Mr. Lampe; the part of Tom Thumb to be performed by Mrs. Lampe. To begin at 6 p.m.’

On 26th March 1751, Lampe conducted in the same place a performance of Ac is and Galatea, in which Mrs. Lampe took one of the vocal parts.

Lampe published a good deal one way and another. Besides composing many single songs which he collected in the Lyra Britannica, he published in 1737 ‘A plain, compendious method of teaching Thorough Bass after the most rational manner, with proper rules for practice.’

Lampe died in Edinburgh on 25th July 1751, and was buried in the Canongate Churchyard on the 28th.

The following is extracted from the Canongate register of burials in the Register House:—

‘Lamp. July 28th, 1751.

‘John Frederick Lamp, Music Master, in his own and Butcher’s B(urial) p(lace). Fever. 48.’

It would be hard to beat this for official brevity.

By the side of this grave a tall mural tombstone was erected; but as it faces the west, the lettering is, after nearly a century and a half, very difficult to decipher.

Surmounting the stone are two angels, now not only wingless, but with their once plump limbs fractured, who face each other and hold between them an open book, on the left page of which is written ‘John Frederick Lampe,’ on the right some bars of music. The inscription runs thus:—

‘ Here lye the mortal remains of John Frederick Lampe, whose harmonious compositions shall outlive all monumental register, and with melodious notes through future ages perpetuate his fame till time shall sink into eternity.1 ‘ His taste for moral harmony appears throughout all his conduct. He was a most loving husband, affectionate father, trusty companion . . .’ but what else he was is entirely wiped from the stone by ‘Time’s effacing fingers.’ Brown’s Dictionary of Musicians (1883), however, continues it thus:—

‘On the 23rd of July, in the forty-eighth year of his age, he was summoned to join that heavenly concert with the blessed choir above, where his virtuous soul now enjoys that harmony which was his chief delight upon earth. In vita felicitate dignos mors redditfelices.'

In 1751 two harpsichords of Lampe’s were advertised for sale.

Nicola Pasquau or Pasquale, and his wife Signora Pasquale, were Italians, who figure somewhat conspicuously in the pre-Saint Cecilian Hall days. Signor Pasquale seems to have been born about 1718, and to have first appeared :n London in 1743. In Edinburgh he was engaged as 1 professional musician for the Gentlemen’s Concerts.’ The Edinburgh Evening Courant of 9th October 1752 announces, ‘at Assembly Hall tomorrow, a grand concert of vocal and instrumental music. Mr. Storer to take a vocal part; violin, Signor Pasquale, and Signor Pasquale, junior, on the violoncello, “being the first time of their performing in this kingdom.”’

The Pasquales were lodging in November 1752 at ‘Mr. Coustin’s in Shoemakers’ Land, facing the Earl of Murray’s in the Canongate.’ Signor Pasquale conducted a benefit concert for Mr. Storer at the Tajlors’ Hall, Cowgate, in December 1752.

While resident these five years in Edinburgh, Pasquale and his brother taught singing as well as the harpsichord, and they announced1 that they would instruct ‘gratis any poor girl with an extraordinary good strong voice.’

Pasquale composed twelve overtures for full band, music for two violins, as well as songs, and was the author of a treatise on the Art of fingering the Uarpsichvrd.

We insert part of a programme of a benefit concert for Signor Pasquale :—‘ On January 17th, for the Benefit of Signor Pasquali, a concert of vocal and instrumental music, the vocal part by Miss Rodburne, the instrumental by Signor Pasquali and others.

part 1.

Overture in Pharamond by Mr. Handel.

Song, “Caro mio ben perdona," by Signor Lampugnani.

Concerto on the German Flute, performed by Mr. M'Pherson.

Song, "When Charming Beauty,” in Noalis, by Signor Pasquali.

La Chasse, a new solo for the violin.

PART II.

Full piece with Trumpets, French Horns, Kettledrums.

Song, “Tortido in voito a capital song—by Signor Pergolesi.’

Pasquale died at Edinburgh on the 13th, and was buried on the 15th October 1757, in the Canongate Cnurchyard. The entry runs :—‘ Nicolla Pasquali, musician. South from Bishop Keeth’s B. P. Fluxes. 39.’ There is no stone to mark the spot—in all probability none was erected over the stranger’s grave.

Contemporaneous with the Pasquales were Signor and Signora Passf.rini, who were engaged by the Musical Society of Edinburgh, i.e. the Gentlemen’s Concert of Mary’s Chapel, which engagement, they announce in the Edinburgh Evening Courant of August 1872, ‘will end with the current year.’ They had arrived before 1751, and in July of that year were lodging in rooms at the ‘ first turnpike below Black-friars’ Wynd.’

Passerini in 1752 advertises1 that he teaches singing, violin, and ‘Thorow Bass’ on the harpsichord, and he and the Signora announce the same year that they are about to institute ‘concerts after the manner of oratorios.’ A month or two later Mons. and Madame Passerini advertise a ‘spiritual concert after the manner of oratorios,’ these to be held twice every month. Passerini describes himself as ‘concert-master of the Musical Society at Edinburgh.’

On 8th August 1752 they had a benefit concert in Mary’s Chapel, in which Passerini played a ‘solo on the violin or viole d’amour.’ Signora Passerini and the following may be taken as a typical programme; we give it in full:—

On Tuesday the 15th of August, for the benefit of Signor and Signora Passerini, at Mary’s Chapel in Niddry’s Wynd, beginning at 5 o’clock.

I. Act.—Overture by Mr. Handel in occasional oratorios.

Signora Passerini’s English song, ‘Ye men of Gaza,5 in Samson.

Solo upon the violin or viole d’amour by Mr* Passerini.

a Signor Rochetti frequently sang duets at concerts about this time—more than once at Mr. M'Pherson’s concert in the Assembly Hall.

‘Madam Passerini’ had a benefit concert of her own on 16th July 1751 in the Assembly Hall, on which occasion she sang ‘a duetta with Mr. Rochetti.’

On December 25th, 1752,1 there is a quaint announcement by the Passerinis that on the 26th inst. their sixth concert after the manner of oratorios will take place at 6 p.m. (tickets 2s. 6d.), and ' the remaining three concerts will be still better than any which Signor and Signora Passerini have performed here.’

The other musicians of this period, who have left little trace save their names in the newspaper announce:

Mrs. Passerir.i’s English song, ‘Total Eclipse,’ in Samson.

II. Act.—Miss Meyer’s English song, ‘To make mankind' by Mr. Morgan.

Solo upon the violin or viole d’amour by Mr. Passerini.

Mrs. Passerini’s the fine cantata of Signor Pergolesi, never produced in Edinburgh, ‘ Luce degli occhi miei.’

III. Act.—Mrs. Passerini’s Scots song, ‘Tweedside.’

Sinfonia by Signor Passerini.

New duetto by Signor Araya, ‘ A si te fui crudele.’ Tickets three shillings.

1 Edinburgh Evening Courant.

Attendants at concerts, may be comprised in the following list:—

1. Mr. Berry.

2. Mr. Davis.

3. Madame de Frene.

4. H. de Monti (author of The Self-Taught Musician : a Treatise on Music).

5. Mr. Gordon.

6. Mr. M’Glashan (in 1770 in Berianger’s Close; in 1779 at foot of Skinner’s Close).

7. Mr. M'Pherson (living in 1768 in Bell's Wynd).

8. Miss Meyer.

9. Signor Lampugnani.

10. Signor Pescatore.

11. Mr. Philips.

12. Miss Rodburne.

13. Signor Rochetti.

14. Mr. Rock.

15. Mr. Christian Rich.

16. Mr. and Mrs. Storer (in 1752 in Miln’s Land, Canongate).

17. Mr. Thomson.

During this pre-Saint Cecilian period we see then that besides in St. Mary’s Chapel, concerts were held in—

1. The Taylors’ Hall, Cowgate.

2. The Assembly Rooms, Assembly Close.

3. The Concert Hall, or the New Concert Hall (Canongate Theatre, Playhouse Close).

The weekly gentlemen’s concert was not regularly advertised, but only when it was decided to admit ladies as guests of the members. Thus, to take an example:—

Edinburgh Evening Courant, July 17th, 1749.—‘The Gentlemen of the Musical Society have appointed a concert for ladies at Mary’s Chapel on Friday next, the 21st inst., at 5 o’clock afternoon. The members will please call for their tickets on Wednesday and Thursday next, at Mr. James Carmichael’s writing-chamber in James Court, west entry and fifth door downstairs. No more than sixty tickets are to be given out, and no ladies to be admitted without tickets.’

The following announcement, dated January 16th, 1755, must have been Amen-ed by more than one male voice:—

‘We hear that on Tuesday last Signor Pasquali had a general rehersal of the music that is to be performed at the Assembly Hall for his Benefit, and as it is expected that the company will be numerous, many ladies have resolved to go without hoops, as they did at the last St. Cecilia’s Concert.’

In 1749 the fee for membership of the Musical Society was one guinea; in 1752 it had risen to one and a half guineas ; by 1778 it had risen to two guineas.

In 1762 the Musical Society of Edinburgh moved into its still larger premises in St. Cecilia’s Hall in the same wynd, and remained in that habitation and with that name until 1801, when it met for the last time (February 17th) in the old hall to dispose of its property. No concert had indeed been given in it since the spring of 1798. Care must be taken in reading Old Edinburgh records to distinguish between St. Cecilia’s Concert Hall, the only concert-hall of Edinburgh, and what was variously and mysteriously called ‘The Concert Hall in the Canongate,’ or ‘The New Concert Hall,’ as well as from ‘The Concert Hall in the Cowgate,’ or ‘The Concert in the Taylors’ Hall.’

To explain fully what the Canongate or Cowgate ‘Concert’ was, would be to enter into the history of the theatrical stage in Edinburgh—a subject outside the limits of this work; but briefly, these expressions may be said to have been used as ‘blinds’ or ‘decoys.’ The theatre in Playhouse Close, Canongate, had been built about 1746 as the first licensed theatre in Scotland, previously to which theatrical companies had acted in the Taylors' Hall in the Cowgate—a building in no way adapted for such a purpose.

But this was not the first theatrical venture in Edinburgh : every one knows how Allan Ramsay in 1736 had ruined himself financially (and the Town Council and clergy thought morally as well) by refitt.ng at his own expense a building in Carrubber’s Close, known as The Theatre.

The feeling on the part of the Town Council against ‘ stage-plays ’ was at this time so strong that the manager of the company either in the Taylors’ Hall or later in the Canongate Theatre would advertise ‘ a concert of music’ on such-and-such a night. Every one knew that a play was going to be acted; occasionally some purely musical performance was given before the play began, oftener not. In this way the edict of the Town Council forbidding plays was technically evaded, but that acting went on was an open secret. This peculiarity, however, requires to be borne in mind, else such an expression as ‘the company belonging to the concert in Taylors’ Hall seems quite unintelligible, when one knows there was, properly speaking, only one concert-hall in the old city. This feeling on the part of the clergy extended, it would appear, to musical as well as to theatrical performances, for after the great fire of November 1824 one of the ministers of the city preached a sermon on ‘The importance of hearing the voice of God,’ in which he attributed the calamity to the Musical Festival of the previous 25th October. Many people seriously thought that the fire was a judgment from Heaven on account of so-called ‘sacred’ music having been performed at the Festival.

By the end of 1798 we can already hear the swansong of the dying Society. On December 22nd, 1798, the Edinburgh Evening Courant published the following: —‘The Governor and Directors of the Musical Society hereby give notice that a general meeting of the Society is to be held in St. Cecilia’s Hall on Monday, 24th December current, at 2 p.m. ... for the purpose of finally determining whether the Society shall be immediately dissolved or continued on the present or any other plan.’

So our old friend the ‘ Musical Society of Edinburgh’ came to an end by a decorous auto da ft after a continuous existence of seventy-five years. From 1800 until 1815 we find few allusions to public music in Edinburgh.

Stark’s Picture of Edinburgh was published during this very period (1806), and it is therefore interesting to have the views of a contemporary writer upon things musical:—

‘Perhaps at no period in the annals of Scottish music was this art more universally cultivated than at present. It forms a general part of modern education, and few are to be met with who cannot sing or play upon one instrument or another. The decline is only in the public exhibitions, and the want of proper encouragement to these proceeds more perhaps from the manner in which they are conducted and the pieces which are there performed, than from any want of taste in the inhabitants of Edinburgh given up, subscription concerts have been performed in the Assembly Rooms, George Street, and at Corri’s Rooms (formerly Royal Circus). In one season no less than two musical exhibitions were encouraged in Edinburgh. But this was chiefly owing to a competition, and the result did not prove much to the satisfaction of the rivals, although performers of the first merit were engaged on both sides. One of these, under the direction of Mr. Urbani, a well-known vocal performer, was held in the Assembly Rooms, and the other under the superintendence of Mr. N. Corri, in the buildings of the late amphitheatre. The furmur of these was obliged to be given up; and the annual concerts during the winter are now performed solely at Corri’s Rooms.

‘For the last two years the annual concerts have been well conducted, and met with very considerable patronage. Mr. Corri, with an attention to the public highly meritorious, has spared no efforts in procuring excellent performers, and the concerts during that period have perhaps never been exceeded for variety in Edinburgh.’

Stark specially mentions ‘Fischer, Salomon, Jarnowick, and Cramer’ as being the chief lights at St. Cecilia’s in its later years.

In 1790 the professional musicians in Edinburgh formed themselves into ‘The Edinburgh Musical Fund,’ which was a society to provide relief for their widows and orphans: for several years thereafter it gave an annual concert in St. Cecilia’s.

A letter in the Everting Courant of March 6th, 1809, does indeed appear, urging the revival of the St. Cecilia concerts, but it called forth no action. The nation was passing through deep waters at this time in connection with our expensive Continental wars, and all departments of aesthetic culture suffered a blight from which some of them have recovered only within the last few years.

In 1815, however, a prolonged musical festival was carried out, an account of which may be read in a little book by George Farquhar Graham, entitled ‘ The First Edinburgh Musical Festival, held between October 30th and November 5th.’

The following gentlemen, amongst others, acted as directors — Mr. (later Sir) Walter Scott, Henry M'Kenzie (‘The Man of Feeling’), Sir William Fettes, the Hon. Henry Erskine, Principal Baird, Gilbert Innes of Stow,2 and Lord Grey.

The morning performances were to take piace ir. Parliament Hall, while Corri’s Rooms were considered more suitable for the evening ones. Six transferable tickets cost £3, 3s.

On the first morning (31st October) the overture to Esther, and selections from Joshua, The Redemption, Jephtha, Samson, Judas Maccabaus, and the Dettingen Te Deurn were to be given.

On the first evening, selections from Mozart’s La Chmensa di Tito by Madame Macaroni, and the overture to Anacreon, were gone through.

On the second morning (1st November), the Messiah was given; on the second evening, amongst other things, the overture to Zauberjiote.

On the third morning, ‘ Total Eclipse ’ (Handel) was an item; on the third evening, a Grand Symphony (Mozart) and a March by Haydn were part of the performance.

On the fourth morning, the overture to Samsen, the overture to Saul, Beethoven’s Mount of Olives, and a piece of Pergolesi’s were given.

The detailed history of all the Musical Societies of Edinburgh since 1815 would fall far beyond the scope of this little work; but as some may be interested to see how they connect with the famous ancestor of them all, whose life-work we have been studying, we may epitomise in the following manner1 what may be called the modern period:—

In 1819, ‘The Edinburgh Professional Society of Musicians’ was established; and in 1831, ‘The Philharmonic Society of Leith ’ was inaugurated, being composed of both vocalists and instrumentalists under the leadership of R. B. Stewart.

Between 1830 and 1835, In addition to the two above mentioned, there were ‘The Choral Society’ and ‘The Edinburgh St. Cecilia Amateur Orchestral Society.’ These two occasionally united their forces when a more than usually ambitious concert was to be attempted.

This St. Cecilia Orchestral Society contained no professional member except the conductor. At first it usually met in the Hopetoun Rooms in Queen Street (now part of the Edinburgh Ladies’ College), but later the Clyde Street Hall was the scene of its gatherings. Practisings were held once a week—usually on Wednesdays, and not earlier than 8 p.m. Each evening’s work overtook at least two symphonies of Haydn, Mozart, or Beethoven, and two overtures of Mozart, Rossini, or Auber.

Two names, very interesting to us now, occur in the list of members—Sir Thomas Dick Lauder’s and Mr (now Sir) Douglas Maclagan’s. Lord Barriedale was a member. This Society gave two concerts in the season 1845-46 for the benefit of the Royal Infirmary, by the former of which they handed over £152, 12s. 2d., and by the latter £71, 5s. 10d. to the funds of that noble institution.

Though the Assembly Rooms in George Street were built between 1783 and 1787, the Music Hall behind was not opened until 1843.

And now our sketch is finished, with the full sense that it is but an unfinished sketch. We have told a tale of other days—days differing in many respects from our own; but the same music that rang out its sweetness when St. Cecilia’s was the new concert-hall is still ours most fully to enjoy—such is the ever-freshness of true art.

A task taken up only from time to time, during holidays and on occasions separated by long intervals of very different occupation, must of necessity seem somewhat of a patchwork. Of this and many other shortcomings the author is painfully conscious. More might have been discovered by one with greater leisure, much might have been better told: but not a line could have been written by any one who loves more fervently Edinburgh—queen of cities—and her romantic story. The holiday task has been a labour of love, and the labourer will have been rewarded could he know that he has given him who is a stranger to the city some fresh facts of interest, or him who has the privilege of having been born within her gates or within sight of her towers, one new link in the chain of old associations that binds her sons throughout the world yet nearer to herself.


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