Friday, March 12, 2010

Thomas Arne Birthday Wishes

Will the world stop spinning long enough for me to post regularly again? I have no idea, but here's a quick one!
Tomorrow several students from around the state of Minnesota are competing at the state finals in piano solo. In the 15-16 year old category, many of them will be performing a "Gigue", (pronounced jig), by Thomas Arne, who would have turned 300 today. His most famous piece is "Rule Britannia". Here's a little more about him, the famous piece, and the gigue our students will be performing. Happy happy, Thomas!

Arne's father and grandfather were both upholsterers and both became officials of the City Company of Upholsterers. His grandfather fell upon hard times and died in the Marshalsea prison for debtors. Arne's father earned enough money not only to rent a large house in Covent Garden but also to have Arne educated at Eton College. But later in life, he also managed to lose most of his wealth and had to earn extra cash by acting as a numberer of the boxes at Drury Lane Theatre.

Arne was so keen on music that he smuggled a spinet into his room and, dampening the sounds with his handkerchief, would secretly practice during the night while the rest of the family slept.

"Rule, Brittania", is a British patriotic song, also used by the British Army. It's famous lyric chorus is:

"Rule, Britannia! rule the waves:
"Britons never will be slaves."

First heard in London in 1745, it achieved instant popularity. It quickly became so well known that Handel quoted it in his Occasional Oratorio in the following year, when it was sung with the words "War shall cease, welcome peace!"

Here's a clip of an amazing performance at Hyde Park, London.

And, finally, a clip from You Tube with the Gigue. This was the better one I found, but I'm certain that many of the students tomorrow will play this with so much more energy and life. hear that, kids! You Tube awaits; publish yourselves-you amaze me!

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