Early Music

I have 2 main obsessions. Chess & early music. In fact I have many obsessions. Such is the consequence of having an obsessive personality.


This entry is about early music.


I am not a musician. But I have loved early music for many years. I am 62 now. I think it all started when I was, I suppose 11, although I might have been older, maybe 14, maybe even 16. It is all such a long time ago that in fact I can’t quite remember. My parents gave me the record of Myra Hess playing her transcription of JS Bach’s Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring – Je­sus bleib­et meine Freude, mein­es Herz­ens Trost und Saft. The seeds of early music & in particular Bach in particular started then. When I was growing up I used, like most people, to listen to pop music; the Beatles, Cliff Richard, Marty Wilde, rubbish like that. When I was about 20, I think it was gave up listening to music altogether.


When after about 2 years I started to listen to music again, it was classical music in general. Beethoven, Handel, Bach mainly. But lots of other music, Britten, Stravinsky, Haydn, Vaughn Williams, Wagner.


It was in the middle of 1975 that I heard a programme on radio3 (the music magazine) an item about the composer Orlando Lassus & in particular the Missa Bel Amfrita, in my view, one of best pieces of music ever written. I bought the record of it & went to the concert at St Paul’s Covent Garden.



This was a turning point. After that I didn’t listen to any other music.

Whether it be mediaeval, renaissance or baroque music, I love it all. I listen to music at home, on the radio & on records & CDs. I have been to York, Bruges & Utrecht to listen to the early music festivals there to listen to early music.


Up to recent times, the last century or so, there were 3 functions for music, sacred music, music that is only heard in church & for dancing, the wonderful dancing one sees in period films & so on & music to accompany eating.

By early music, I mean mediaeval music, renaissance music & baroque music, also possibly Mozart if performed on period instruments.


The Stoke Newington early music festival is on at the moment. It is in the small church in Stoke Newington Church Street on the North side of the road, next to Clissold Park. There have been 2 concerts already. But there are 3 left. Tonight, it is Venetian scared music, Thursday Tudor Court music & on Saturday Bach cantatas. The church is crumbling. But acoustics are wonderful & the music is wonderful.  There are some wonderful performers. It has been nobly & wonderfully organized & sustained by Vanessa Coode & her wonderful team. InFactuation is one of the sponsors.



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One Response to Early Music

  1. freespeechoneeach says:

    Early music is splendid, certainly. But I wouldn’t dream of writing off modern music as a whole. There is, of course, and awful lot of unbearable trash, which makes someone a lot of money. Shouting over drum machines doesn’t turn me on.
    But there’s some original music- making happening today I could not live without.

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