Thematic Index of Music for Viols - Restoration Theatre and Instrumental Music (1660-1714)


The prime consideration of the VdGS Thematic Index is as a catalogue of music for viols. However, the violin family often intrudes upon this, particularly in fantasia-suites and in the many dances where precise instrumentation is vague and where combinations of viols and violins must often have depended on circumstance. Moreover, a manuscript like GB-Lbl, Add. 31429 splits into two sections, one featuring airs by composers such as Jenkins and Lawes and their contemporaries (which are in the Thematic Index), and the other suites of dances by Grabu, Farmer, Paisible, and their like (which are not listed there). So currently there is no comprehensive thematic index of the wealth of instrumental music composed for the theatre, for dancing at court and elsewhere, or of the numerous collections of divisions for flute or violin which increasingly replaced those for viol after the Restoration. This seems the best place to create one. The initial aim is to list such music composed between 1660 and 1714, the death of Queen Anne. Many of the composers featured here were string players at court, but also served in the theatres, both as composers and as instrumentalists. Some, like James Paisible, were wind players. A wealth of publications shows the popularity of collections of tunes from plays assigned to solo violin, flute(s), or keyboard.

So far as theatre music is concerned, but of course lacking newer discoveries, Curtis Price’s superb Music in the Restoration Theatre with a Catalogue of Instrumental Music in the Plays 1665-1713, UMI Research Press 1979, is an essential and comprehensive starting point, while the RISM indexes include an increasing number of incipits as the project develops. However, this Index will not be restricted to pieces identified from plays and will include the many anonymous airs and pieces in the hope that more will be identified and placed in context. Rome was not built in a day and indexing will take years. Some of these lists have already appeared in the VdGS Thematic Index, but it is now more sensible to place them here. Method. Each piece will be given a number as it is listed, grouped according to key: capital letters for major keys and lower case for minors (C1; c1, etc). But where pieces have been identified by Price and others as belonging to plays, it will be sensible to group them under the play title. So there will be two types of page reference for composers. For example, Solomon Eccles = S.ECCLES-1,2,3 for three sets of play music (which often combine pieces in different keys), but S.ECCLES-g1 for music by him in G minor as yet unattached to any play. We shall not include items by Henry Purcell (listed by Zimmerman) or Locke (listed by Harding)
ANDREW ASHBEE, August 2018

List (First Instalment, 2018)

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