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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Guest Grace Burrowes: Regency Music

Linda Banche here. My guest today is New York Times bestselling author Grace Burrowes with Lady Sophie's Christmas Wish and The Virtuoso, the latest books in her saga about the Regency Windham family. Here she talks about Regency music.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win one of two copies of The Virtuoso which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Grace will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winners within a week of selection, I will award the books to alternates. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winners Grace selected are Hope and Kitchen Witch! Hope and Kitchen Witch, please contact me at linda@lindabanche.com by November 24, 2011, in order to claim your prizes.

Welcome back, Grace!

Grace Burrowes:

As with many aspects of culture, the Regency was a musically fascinating time. Art in general was making a transition from the highly structured, elegant restraint of the classical approach to the more emotionally expressive, spontaneous Romantic approach. Musical ensembles grew from the small chamber orchestras maintained at court or by wealthy nobles to professional orchestras and opera companies capable of playing to large audiences. For example, His Majesty’s Theatre in Haymarket—a popular concert and opera venue—was expanded during the Regency from a seating capacity of 1200 to 2500.

Technological advances played a significant part in this evolution. Wolfgang Mozart (1756-1791) and his sister toured London in 1764 and 1765, for example, and would have been performing on a five-octave piano with limited volume. By the end of the Regency period, the piano keyboard encompassed least six octaves (more for concert instruments), and due to improved material for the piano wire, sound board and mechanism, had a much louder sound with a better sustaining mechanism.

Music continued to be a source of entertainment and pleasure in better homes, with hostesses showing off both skilled amateurs and promising professionals at informal musicales. The Regency also, however, saw the rise of the virtuoso.

The musician most often referred to as the first piano virtuoso is English-educated Muzio Clementi (1752-1832). Clementi squared off against Mozart for the entertainment of Emperor Josef II of Austria-Hungary, in 1781 (the emperor graciously declared the contest a draw), then went on to enjoy a long career as a composer, performer, piano manufacturer, and music publisher. While we recall him today mostly for his sonatinas, though in the Regency period he was a musical celebrity of great renown, and musicologists credit him with influencing Chopin, Liszt, and other later Romantic composers.

Beethoven (1770-1827) was, of course, active during the Regency period, having written his first eight symphonies and all five of his piano concertos prior to 1814. The London Philharmonic Society, forerunner of the Royal Philharmonic Society, founded in 1813, takes some of the credit for commissioning a choral symphony from Herr Beethoven in 1822, which eventually developed into the wonderful Ninth Symphony with its choral finale. English demand for chamber pieces (string quartets and piano trios) also prompted Beethoven to include these forms in his later repertoire.

And while works for public performance were becoming longer, more complicated, for larger ensembles and to be played on more sophisticated instruments, in the case of the piano, at least, smaller, simpler versions of the instrument were making music an affordable pastime for more and more households. These cottage pianos were as little as three feet high, with a shortened keyboard and modest cabinetry.

In the Regency period, the English continued a long tradition of luring Continental talent to London for lucrative performance opportunities. Josef Haydn (1732-1809) enjoyed success as both a conductor and composer in his English travels in 1791 and 1794, and many an operatic talent traveled from Italy to perform offerings such as Mozart’s Die Zauberflote, Cosi Fan Tutte, and La Clemenza di Tito.

With music becoming at once more accessible, more sophisticated, more public, and more available in the home, and instruments becoming more plentiful and of better design, it’s hard to imagine a more exciting period in music history than the Regency.

The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes – In Stores November 2011
A genius with a terrible loss…
Gifted pianist Valentine Windham, youngest son of the Duke of Moreland, has little interest in his father’s obsession to see his sons married, and instead pours passion into his music. But when Val loses his music, he flees to the country, alone and tormented by what has been robbed from him.

A widow with a heartbreaking secret…
Grieving Ellen Markham has hidden herself away, looking for safety in solitude. Her curious new neighbor offers a kindred lonely soul whose desperation is matched only by his desire, but Ellen’s devastating secret could be the one thing that destroys them both.

Together they’ll find there’s no rescue from the past, but sometimes losing everything can help you find what you need most.

Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish by Grace Burrowes – In Stores NOW!
A luminous holiday tale of romance, passion, and dreams come true from rising star Grace Burrowes, whose award-winning Regency romances are capturing hearts worldwide.

All she wants is peace and anonymity…
Lady Sophie Windham has maneuvered a few days to herself at the ducal mansion in London before she must join her family for Christmas in Kent. Suddenly trapped by a London snowstorm, she finds herself with an abandoned baby and only the assistance of a kind, handsome stranger standing between her and complete disaster.

But Sophie’s holiday is about to heat up…
With his estate in ruins, Vim Charpentier sees little to feel festive about this Christmas. His growing attraction for Sophie Windham is the only thing that warms his spirits—but when Sophie’s brothers whisk her away, Vim’s most painful holiday memories are reawakened.

It seems Sophie’s been keeping secrets, and now it will take much more than a mistletoe kiss to make her deepest wishes come true…

About the Author
Grace Burrowes is the pen name for a prolific and award-winning author of historical romances. The Heir, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and was selected as a Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year for 2010. Both The Heir and its follow-up, The Solider, are New York Times and USA Today bestsellers. She is a practicing attorney specializing in family law and lives in a restored log cabin in western Maryland without a TV, DVD or radio because she's too busy working on her next books. For more information, please visit http://www.graceburrowes.com/.

26 comments:

LK Hunsaker said...

Lovely post! Wouldn't you like to see what Mozart would have done in later years with changing times and changing instruments?

Linda Banche said...

Anything that makes culture more accessible to the masses is good. Lucky for us there were all those technological improvements.

Grace Burrowes said...

LK, I can't recall the title, but there's a great piece of historical fiction out now based on Mozart's sister Nannerl, who was equally talented at the keyboard (and who toured with him when they were children). The premise of the story is that Nannerl is trying to get to the bottom of her brother's death, which is one of the great mysteries of musicology.

Grace Burrowes said...

Linda, one of the first things I came across in that vein as a tadpole musicologist, was that the invention of the quill pen in the 1100s made writing down more complicated music (duration of a note, not just pitch) possible. We'd probably still be singing plain chant if not for all those bald geese.
I LOVE those sorts of details-that-aren't-details.

Georgie Lee said...

Wonderful post. I would like to know more about Mozart's sister and her expereinces with her famous older brother.

Georgie Lee said...

Wonderful post. I would like to know more about Mozart's sister and her expereinces with her famous older brother.

Grace Burrowes said...

Georgie Lee, they were not pleasant experiences by and large. Leopold Mozart took his children on the road for tours all over Europe that lasted months. The children performed for houses of the nobility on demand, pay was hard to come by, traveling conditions were miserable, and they were expected to perform when ill, tired, hungry, and so on. In some ways, Nannerl's gender protected her from continued exploitation by her father. I'll try to hunt up the name of the historical fiction read--it interests me too!

Grace Burrowes said...

I found two books at Barnes and Noble titled, "Mozart's Sister" and both look to be good historical accounts of Nannerl's experiences.

Danielle Gorman said...

Great post! So interesting to find all interesting tidbits on Mozart and Beethoven. I honestly don't know much about Clementi. Thanks for sharing.

iqb99@yahoo.com

Linda Banche said...

Well, those geese gave their feathers for a worthy cause. *g*

Acutally, I like plain chant. Lots of early liturgical music is plain chant, and that chant really says "holidays" to me. But it would get kind of old if we heard it all the time.

Tracey said...

Grace, it is nice to see you are in your element today! Great post, I always learn so much from your blogs. I love classical music and specifically the piano. My Father was a musician with perfect pitch and played the piano beautifully. We always had some type of keyboard wherever we lived...an upright piano, a Grand piano, an organ, and an electronic keyboard (which I still have). To bad Dad wasn't able to leave a little bit of his "magic" behind in it so one of us could be enchanted when we played it! :O)

Kitchen Witch of the West said...

I have the XM Pops station on 24/7 and enjoy learning the new bits of information. Between reading the books, blogs, and the station it adds a dimension to their creative genius.
Cannot wait for Val's story, having reread 'The Soldier' many time this summer!
Will you ever do a prequel for Their Grace's courtship?

hope said...

I too, like the Pops and classical stations on satellite radio. I do enjoy understanding more about the historical implications from the Regency period. I often find myself getting upset over a bit in a book then have to remember that my 21st century brain is NOT the same as if I lived in that period.
Music though did seem prolific in that time...

Great post.

Great book too BTW, both of them

Hope

Grace Burrowes said...

Danielle, Most third year piano students are making the acquaintance of Clementi's Sonatinas in anticipation of a recital. He was Italian born but raised in England after the age of 7. He's only now coming back into the orchestral and chamber repertoire.

Grace Burrowes said...

Linda, I had an album of Palestrina Masses around for much of my early adulthood. The music was recorded in some huge old cathedral and the sound was marvelous. When I think of the You Tube video of silent monks flip-charting the Hallelujah Chorus, that album comes to mind.

Grace Burrowes said...

Tracey, the magic is in your memories.

LK Hunsaker said...

Grace, how interesting. I just picked up an old book of Mozart's letters at a library sale recently. I'm anxious to get to it. I'll have to look for that book about his sister, as well.

Grace Burrowes said...

KWW, I am getting a lot of requests for Their Graces story. It would be my first Georgian, though that might be a nice change of pace. I keep getting hints from Percy and Esther regarding their courtship, but I don't have a big picture.... yet.

Grace Burrowes said...

Hope, when I was a kid, all the dairy farmers had "Live at the Met" (The New York Metropolitan Opera's weekend broadcast) playing for their Holsteins. I think it made the milk taste better.

catslady said...

I've always been interested in the arts and I enjoy books that are based on historical fact so your books sound extremely enticing to me (and since I've read you in the past I am sure these are wonderful reads).

Melanie said...

Okay, so now I feel totally like a stalker :)

Following you around I get to learn so much stuff :) Thanks Grace and I really, really need to win the Virtuoso, so you'll see me around some more :)

Mel
www.bookworm2bookworm.wordpress.com
melanieDOTfriedmanATsbcglobalDOTnet

Grace Burrowes said...

Catslady, I might well have become an art historian, so interesting did I find the connections between art, political life, social evolution, technology... Music history has the same quality of providing a perspective on all of society. I do wonder what will be made of romance novels a hundred years hence.

Grace Burrowes said...

Melanie, you can stalk me (and Lord Valentine) anywhere!

Anonymous said...

Hope Valentine is a hot as his brother, and classical music is so soothing.

Sheila
smulholland62@msn.com

Grace Burrowes said...

Sheila,
Valentine is regarded by many readers as hotter than his brothers. Ask a concert pianist in his prime to take off his shirt some time... then play you some repertoire.

You will never see musculature quite like that any where else... and with all that artistic perceptivity to back it up, too.

Grace Burrowes said...

Sheila,
Valentine is regarded by many readers as hotter than his brothers. Ask a concert pianist in his prime to take off his shirt some time... then play you some repertoire.

You will never see musculature quite like that any where else... and with all that artistic perceptivity to back it up, too.