Tag Archive | James Hook

1814 Vauxhall and Drury Lane: The Belles’ Time Travel Machine

I hope you enjoyed your stay in WWI France via Caroline Warfield’s Blog. You are now once again in Regency England! A Malicious Rumor in the Bluestocking Belles’ Never Too Late anthology—takes place this year (as well as The Umbrella Chronicles: George and Dorothea’s Story, but you have already been there, right?), but we hope this is not your last stop via The Bluestocking Belles’ Time Machine.

Miss Alice Crocker and Mr. Peter de Luca from A Malicious Rumor are both employees of Vauxhall Gardens. Alice is a gardener and Peter is a violinist. Peter was unfairly dismissed from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, and Alice and her grandfather help him seek justice.

Events at Vauxhall Gardens in 1814

The season began on 15 June and ended on 26 August. The finale was highlighted by a double display of fireworks by Mons. Bologna and Signor D. Mortram.

Fireworks temple

Mme. Sarah Hengler (wife of Michael Hengler who died in 1802) performed fireworks and illuminations that year.

Mme. Sarah Hengler

Sig. Vincento de Mortram, Mme. Hengler’s rival, also performed fireworks at Vauxhall that year.

Mrs. Maria Theresa Bland was a featured performer that summer. Mrs. Bland was married to the brother of Mrs. Jordan of Covent Garden. Her mezzo-soprano voice was ideal for the singing of English ballads. Her sons Charles and James were also singers.

Maria Theresa Bland, née Romanzini

Charles Dignum first appeared in 1794, but became notable at Vauxhall during the first two decades of the 19th century. He was well-known for his duets with Mrs Bland, especially Long Time I’ve Courted You, Miss,  a dialogue between a shy sailor and a flirtatious lady.

Charles Dignum

Charles Burney, father of novelists Frances (Fanny) Burney and Sarah Burney, who played the violin and viola at Vauxhall, died that year.

Charles Burney

Natale Corri, brother of Domenico Corri who was the manager of Vauxhall in 1812, composed for the Pandean band from 1810-1815.

Pandean Band

James Hook was keyboard player and composer at Vauxhall from 1772–1821. Hook wrote over two thousand songs for Vauxhall, and played organ concertos on many thousands of occasions.

James Hook by Lemuel Francis Abbott

Mr. F. Ware was music leader that year.

Mr. Burgess was punch maker for Vauxhall that year, and for a total of 40 years.

Mrs. Margarit Ross was housekeeper from 1811-1834. A permanent employee who was also in charge of the bars, Mrs. Ross kept one female assistant throughout the year. In 1822 she was paid £100 per annum.

Mr. C.H. Simpson was Master of Ceremonies from 1797-1835. In 1823, he was making £34 per season.  “…the wondrous master of the ceremonies, the ‘gentle Simpson, that kind smiling idiot,’ whose personality is preserved in the wonderful etching by Robert Cruikshank…” (Amusements of Old London, William Boulton, 1901).

Robert Cruikshank, C.H. Simpson Esq.

Mr. Charles Taylor was Director of Music that year. He was one of the longest-serving and most popular Vauxhall singers, especially noted for his comic songs. He made the speech on the last night of the season several times.

Mr. Jonathan Tyers Barrett and Rev. George Rogers Barrett, both grandchildren of Vauxhall founder Jonathan Tyers, co-owned Vauxhall after the death of Jonathan Tyers Jr. in 1792 until it was sold in 1821.

Events at Drury Lane

Edmund Kean played Shylock in The Merchant of Venice for the first time on 26 January. On 12 February, he played Richard III.

On 2 March, Jane Austen wrote to her sister Cassandra: “Places are secured at Drury Lane for Saturday, but so great is the rage for seeing Kean that only a third and fourth row could be got.” On 5 March: “We were quite satisfied with Kean. I cannot imagine better acting, but the part was too short; and, excepting him and Miss Smith, and she did not quite answer my expectation, the parts were ill filled and the play heavy.”

Sarah Smith Bartley

Edmund Kean played Hamlet for the first time on 12 March. On 5 May: first performance as Othello. On 7 May: first performance as Iago. On 25 May: a benefit and first performance of Luke in Riches. On 5 November: first performance as Macbeth.

Farewell—and a Giveaway

Thank you for dropping in. Your next stop will be on Sherry Ewing’s blog, but you might want to go back to The Bluestocking Belles Time Machine and hop around at will. I wish you safe travels.

Don’t forget, each comment on every stop of the Time Machine will be counted as an entry to win a grand prize of a $25 gift voucher from Amazon and a print copy of Never Too Late.

In addition, one random commenter here will win all three of these prizes at the end of December.

William Shakespeare Ornament

 

Vauxhall Charm Bracelet

 

Supper-boxes Necklace

Adieu, Time Traveler. Try not to land in the midst of the Black Plague, the Great Fire of London or the sack of Rome!

About Never Too Late

Eight authors and eight different takes on four dramatic elements selected by our readers—an older heroine, a wise man, a Bible, and a compromising situation that isn’t.

Set in a variety of locations around the world over eight centuries, welcome to the romance of the Bluestocking Belles’ 2017 Holiday Anthology.

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About A Malicious Rumor

Excerpt from A Malicious Rumor

Alice found her feet tapping in time to the music of the orchestra rehearsal while she inspected the site for the new illumination, which would honor the new Duke of Wellington after his victory over Bonaparte at the Battle of Paris. If only the designer had included the measurements! It was difficult to decide how to arrange the plantings without some inkling of the space requirements. With luck, the fellow himself would arrive soon, since the spectacle was planned to open the next day.

Miss Stephens must be singing tonight, she thought as she found herself humming the tune of the popular Northumberland ballad about a brave lass who rowed out in a storm to save her shipwrecked sailor beau.

O! merry row, O! merry row the bonnie, bonnie bark,

Bring back my love to calm my woe,

Before the night grows dark.

She liked the idea of a woman rescuing her man instead of the other way around. It might seem romantic to be rescued by a handsome prince, but one could not always be a damsel in distress, could one? Alice knew from her mother’s marriage that there was no happiness or romance in a marriage where one partner held all the power. She herself had no intention of placing herself in the power of any man. She would be responsible to no one but herself—and perhaps her employer, as long as she was permitted to work for a living. She narrowed her eyes. She could work as well as any man, better than some, in fact. Why did so many men feel threatened by that?

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part II

In our last installment, Susana and Lady traveled by carriage to the Royal Vauxhall Gardens, bespoke a supper-box, chatted with a waiter, and partook of shaved ham “so thin you could see through it,” as well as other delicacies.

Ladies Retiring Room at Vauxhall

Ladies Retiring Room at Vauxhall

After our meal, Lady P excused herself to visit the “ladies’ retiring room.” Curiosity induced me to follow her to a large tent in a secluded area, where a young woman dressed in servant garb brightened at our approach. When Lady P shook her head slightly, the woman shrugged and looked hopefully behind us for another potential “client.” Her ladyship whispered to me that such women were there to collect tips for assisting ladies who had come without maids to help with their private needs.

Peering into the darkly-lit interior, I saw a half-dozen women seated on what appeared to be wooden seats similar to those scene in outhouses when I was a child (or the latrines at Girl Scout camp). The better-dressed ladies had maids attending to them, but I didn’t get a good glimpse because Her ladyship squeezed my shoulder and I could see by her tight jaw and raised eyebrows that it was not the thing to be staring in such a place.

Not being especially inclined to use such things as outhouses and porta-potties except in case of emergency—and I decided I could wait until I got home—I abandoned the tent and strolled about a hundred yards away until I had left the unpleasant smells behind. From my position, I had a good view of the dancing in front of the Orchestra. It was so amazing to see the vibrant colors of the ladies’ gowns—as well as the gentlemen’s waistcoats—and I could not help but marvel at the sight of the diversity of the dancers. A soberly-dressed gentleman in charcoal gray who was partnered with a woman in serviceable blue circled among an older, elegantly-dressed couple and an energetic young couple dressed in servant garb, and they all seemed to be having a good time. Among the bystanders I could see a gentleman looking through his quizzing-glasses at me, and fearing that he might be thinking of asking me to dance—Lady P would kill me, and in any case, I have two left feet and have never waltzed in my life—I backed a little further back into the hedges, and nearly trampled a little girl.

“Oh dear, I’m sorry! I didn’t see you there, sweetheart. Are you all right?”

Print; Mezzotint engraving. Childhood: Lady Emily Caroline Catherine Frances Cowper, later Countess of Shaftesbury (1810-1872) after Sir Thomas Lawrence.Half length portrait of a child, a string of pearls round her neck. Unframed.

Lady Emily Caroline Catherine Frances Cowper, later Countess of Shaftesbury (1810-1872) after Sir Thomas Lawrence.Half length portrait of a child, a string of pearls round her neck. Unframed.

The child—about six or seven I thought—blinked rapidly after she had moved a safe distance away. Wavy dark hair curled around her childish round face, tied at the top with a pink ribbon. Dressed in white, her gown trimmed with pink bows, she didn’t have the appearance of a child who would be abandoned on her own in a place like Vauxhall.

Her eyes widened at the sound of my voice, and before she answered, she gave me a long glance from head to toe. My hands started to sweat, knowing that my gown—beautiful though it was—would not stand up to close scrutiny, created as it was from an unauthentic pattern and materials made with 21st century technology.

“You speak strangely,” she said. “You’re not from Hertfordshire, are you?”

“Uh no, I’m from America.”

She nodded as though her suspicions were confirmed. “That’s a great distance from here.”

“It is,” I agreed. “I came to visit my friend Lady Pendleton.”

She smiled. “I like her. She invited me to come to tea with Emily and Theodosia.”

Emily and Theodosia are two of Lady P’s grandchildren. [They appear in A Home for Helena.]

“I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting them as yet.”

She tilted her head. “They live in Kent. Sometimes they come to London to visit their grandmother. I visit mine as well, but she is quite ill at present.” She crossed her arms in front of her. “She is an important lady, you know.”

“She is?” I was quite eager to know the identity of this child, but I had a feeling I shouldn’t be encouraging her to talk to strange people. And I know Lady P would have a fit. I gave a quick glance behind me in case she was approaching, but the coast was clear.

“Yes. And my mother as well. She is one of the patronesses of Almack’s.” She inclined her head toward me. “Have you attended there?”

Almack's Assembly Rooms

Almack’s Assembly Rooms

I smothered a laugh. Me? At Almack’s. Not likely. But then… who could have imagined I’d ever be at the Vauxhall from two hundred years ago?

“No, I’m afraid not.”

She smiled. “You do not have a voucher? Perhaps I can prevail upon my mother to get you one. You are a proper lady, are you not?”

Now that was a loaded question. I was pretty sure Lady Pendleton would not describe me thus, and I certainly didn’t feel like a Regency lady.

“I am quite certain Lady Pendleton would not invite me to her home otherwise,” I prevaricated. “I am Susana Ellis. I’m a novelist.”

almacks-voucher-stg_misc_box7-trimmed-to-voucher“You are?” she breathed. “Like Mrs. Edgeworth and Mrs. Burney?”

“More like Miss Austen,” I said before I could stop myself. I knew that Jane Austen had published her novels anonymously at first and wasn’t sure when her identity was finally revealed.

She wrinkled her brow. “Miss Austen?”

Fortunately, I was saved from responding by the sudden appearance of my time-traveling Regency friend.

“Dear Susana, I see you have found a friend.” There was a hint of irritation in her voice. “Lady Emily, have you accompanied your parents here this evening? I wonder why you have been left alone without your maid.”

Lady Pendleton’s voice was firm but kind as she viewed the little girl. Lady Emily fidgeted under her gaze. “I came with Mama and Lord Palmerston. Alice was too ill. I’m just here waiting while they finish the dance.”

Her ladyship shook her head. “I shall give your mama a talking-to when next I see her. Leaving her child unaccompanied indeed!”

Lady Emily flushed. “No! Please don’t do that! I am meant to be sitting with the Howard party.” She bobbed us a curtsey and made her adieux. “I must return in all haste.” She fled just as the music stopped.

I turned toward Lady P. “Is that—?”

lady-emily-cowper-by-sir-2

Lady Emily Cowper (1787 – 1769) by Sir Thomas Lawrence. The daughter of the famous Whig hostess, Elizabeth Lamb, Lady Melbourne, Emily was likely the result of her mother’s affair with Lord Egremont. Emily had plenty of extramarital affairs of her own, including a long one with Lord Palmerston, whom she married after the death of her husband.

“Lady Emily Caroline Catherine Frances Cowper,” confirmed my mentor. “The daughter of Lady Emily Cowper and the granddaughter of the Melbournes.”

I let that knowledge sink in. Then I giggled. “She offered to help me get a voucher to Almack’s!”

Her ladyship lifted an eyebrow. “Indeed. And what did you say to her to elicit such an offer?”

“Nothing!” I insisted. “All I said was that I am an American visiting you, and she told me she knew your granddaughters and asked me if I’d been to Almack’s…”

Lady P snorted. “Because she knew you hadn’t, of course.”

That stung a little, but I knew she was right. I’m not a proper Regency lady and never will be. I was there to observe—and that in itself was a rare privilege.

Maria Theresa Bland, née Romanzini (1769-1838) was a popular singer at Drury Lane and other venues. Sister-in-law to the actress Mrs. Jordan, she had two sons who were also musical. Her mezzo-soprano voice was idea for the singing of English ballads.

Maria Theresa Bland, née Romanzini (1769-1838) was a popular singer at Drury Lane and other venues. Sister-in-law to the actress Mrs. Jordan, she had two sons who were also musical. Her mezzo-soprano voice was ideal for the singing of English ballads.

Our conversation was interrupted with cheers and applause as a rotund little lady in a blue gown with a laced-up bodice and an enormous cap topped with colorful flowers that accentuated the roundness of her face, stepped up on the stage in front of the musicians, giving a deep bow at her introduction by the organist, Mr. James Hook. She—her name was Mrs. Bland—proceeded to sing a charming little song called “Pray Excuse Me,” that had everyone smiling and cheering for more. Her exquisite voice and cheerful vivacity more than made up for the incongruity of her appearance. Following that, she sang “Jesse o’ the Dee” and several other other songs until it was announced that the musicians would take a short respite while Mr. Hook entertained the crowd with his lively organ-playing. In spite of that, I noticed the audience starting to thin out, many heading in the same direction.

James Hook by Lemuel Francis Abbott

James Hook by Lemuel Francis Abbott

“Madame Saqui!” I breathed. Lady P nodded, and we set out to follow the crowd to the venue where the popular French tight-rope dancer would perform.

More next week, same bat-time, same bat-channel!

 

Lady P and Susana Visit Vauxhall Gardens, Part I

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part II

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part III

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part IV

An Evening at Vauxhall Gardens, Part V

Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

Madame Saqui

Madame Saqui at Vauxhall

Marguerite-Antoinette Lalanne came from an acrobatic family performing first at provincial fairs in France, and then at the fashionable Tivoli Gardens (‘The Paris Vauxhall’). Madame Saqui, as she was after her marriage,   became so popular in France that Napoleon arranged for her to perform for his army, after which she had her coach painted with an imperial eagle.

Once the War with France had definitively come to an end, Vauxhall proprietors George Rogers Barrett and Jonathan Tyers Barrett were determined to persuade her to come to England to perform at Vauxhall. Her first performance, however, was at Covent Garden Theatre. See the print below “of her descending from the balcony on a tight rope, brandishing two large flags, as the men in the audience look up her skirt with telescopes. The caption reads: ‘A Wonderful THING from PARIS… or Madame SACCHI gratifying John Bulls curiosity, at Covent Garden Theatre, April 1816.’

Madame Saqui at Covent Garden

Madame Saqui at Covent Garden

Prior to the opening of the 1816 Vauxhall Season on 3 June, the advertisements included:

At the end of the first Act Mme and Messrs Sachi will go through a variety of surprising evolutions on the Tight Ropse… at the conclusion of the concert… fireworks… when Madame Sachi, in the midst of a brilliant display of Chinese fire, will perform her astonishing Ascension, as exhibited in the Gardens of Tivoli in Paris. Admission to the Gardens is lowered from 4s to 3s 6d.

The weather was perfect and the crowds flocked to catch a glimpse of the new attraction.  The enormous success of the evening led to announcement that Madame Saqui’s troupe would perform every night until further notice. As they did, virtually every night of every season until 1820.

In her first year at Vauxhall, on the birthday of the Prince Regent, Madame Saqui exhibited her ‘grandest Feat which she had the honor of performing before the Sovereigns of Europe two years since, at Paris’—no doubt one of her spectacular ascents… [In 1819], instead of ascending from the ground, she suddenly appeared in the centre of a blazing star, 60 feet above the heads of the astonished crowd; from this she descended amidst a shower of fire accompanied by martial music. Then she turned round, ran back up the rope to the fiery star, only to be lost to view in a new barrage of fireworks. She also continued to perform with her daughter Adèle, the pair dancing an allemande on two or three ropes.

Vauxhall Madam Saqui Descending In 1816, Madame Saqui ascended and descended a tightrope that was fixed to a sixty foot mast accompanied by a firework display

Madame Saqui left Vauxhall after the close of the season in 1820 to do other things, eventually retiring and falling on hard times. She did come out of retirement at the age of seventy-five, performing at the Hippodrome. A correspondent to L’Intermédiare des chercheurs et des curieux said:

When I was a child, I saw her dance on the tightrope at the Hippodrome; she was seventy-five. It was a pitiful sight to see this decrepit figure in a pink costume, her face the color of faded parchment surmounted by a grotesque diadem. She gained in my childhood memory as an unforgettable image of the evil diary Carabosse.

Musicians

One of the characteristics of many Vauxhall performers long service. “It was not unusual for musicians, including singers, to work each season in the gardens for at least twenty years, and some served for much longer: the kettledrummer Jacob Nelson held the record at fifty years…”

James Hook, composer and organist, was a fixture at the park from 1772-1821, composing “over two thousand songs and  at least twenty organ concertos.”

William Parke, an oboist who joined Vauxhall with his brother John in 1776, composed numerous songs, concertos and other pieces, and also wrote Musical Memoires, which is full of information about the music at Vauxhall.

Strolling Players were the Savoyards , who played French and Venetian ballads in groups of four or five throughout the gardens following the main concert in the Orchestra, on instruments that included flutes and cymbals. The Pandeans (although some considered them to be the same as the Savoyards) played on pan-pipes. “The Duchess of Devonshire is known to have preferred the Pandeans…”

Charles Taylor received £290 in 1812. He

…was one of the longest-serving and most popular Vauxhall singers, especially noted for his comic songs. He first appeared in the gardens in 1794, returning regularly thereafter. He made the speech on the last night of the season several times and, unusually for a vocalist, rose to become Director of Music in 1822.

Mrs. Bland first appeared in 1790, retiring in 1823.

21 Mrs Bland THUMB

Described as ‘the sweet-voiced, dumpy little ballad singer’, she was said to have ‘refused an offer [for the 1789 season] of the Vauxhall Managers, to the tune of one hundred and sixty guineas.’ Her voice was ideally suited to the countless ballads that Hook and others wrote for her. Sometimes these demanded special effects—in June 1818, for example, she sang a new song by Parke, which was echoed in a distant part of the gardens by a bugle-horn.

Catherine (Kitty) Stephens, an actress and soprano, married the 5th Earl of Essex in 1838.

Miss Stephens

Charles Dignum first appeared in 1794, but became notable at Vauxhall during the first two decades of the 19th century. “He was well-known for his duets with Mrs Bland, especially Long Time I’ve Courted You, Miss,  a dialogue between a shy sailor and a flirtatious lady.

John Braham, a popular operatic tenor, made his first appearance at Vauxhall as a boy soprano in 1787, “returning as an established star for the season of 1826, for the enormous fee of 800 guineas.”

Miss Feron (Fearon), known for her imitative talent, performed “a new comic song by Parke called The Romp or the Great Catalani, in which she used her powers of mimicry to parody the famous Italian soprano.” This act became so popular that it was repeated often and Parke writes:

…The recitative which introduces the air, ending with the words Great Catalini, it became necessary, in order to make the music accord with the poetry, to repeat a part of the last word, by which it read thus: Great Cat, Great Catalani. This, I was informed, gave umbrage to the lady, who, having perhaps an aversion to the feline race, said that she liked the song very well, with the exception of the Great Cat in it.”

Comic Songs

Parke’s Great Catalani was an early example of the double-entendre, that came to dominate the music hall… The words of many of these songs were published and sold at the gardens, so that the public came to know them by heart and to glamour for their repeated performance.

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever

Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859

vauxhallbook

Vauxhall Gardens: A History

David Coke & Alan Borg

The Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is one of the places I’d love to slip back in time to visit, just to catch a glimpse of what it was like. After recently splurging to buy this lovely coffee-table book, I thought it might make a wonderful subject for a new blog series. But do buy the book too, if you can! The photos are fabulous!

Before Vauxhall, professional, high quality music was expensive and therefore restricted to the wealthy. Because it was usually performed in private drawing rooms or concert halls, the concept of performing it in the open air was also a novelty. At a time when music from past masters was popular, Tyers introduced music by contemporary English or London-based composers. Oftentimes, the music (and the musicians) were the same as those performing in London theaters during the winter.

Tyers exposed a substantially larger audience to serious music than had ever been possible or even conceivable before. The fact that he did so in a setting where the audience could choose to listen or not, and could choose where to listen from, fundamentally transformed the public’s experience of musical performance, and led to a much wider and easier acceptance of the concert as a public entertainment.

Instrumental Music

Following the construction of the Orchestra building, which resolved several acoustical issues from performing in the open air, in 1735, music became

the crucial ingredient in setting the tone for an evening at Vauxhall. It promoted relaxed enjoyment, and its rational elegance was a catalyst for good behaviour and conversation among the company.

The unusual experience of listening to music in the open air and, after dark… held a very special allure for the audience. There is no doubt that music heard from a distant point of the garden… would have been attractive, providing a good excuse to lure members of the opposite sex away from the crowded Grove… On her eventful visit to Vauxhall, Fanny Burney’s heroine Evelina was particularly impressed by its al fresco music, if not seduced by its freedoms… Despite the disagreeable company, she recounts that

There was a concert, in the course of which, a hautbois concerto was so charmingly played that I could have thought myself upon enchanted ground, had I had spirits more gentle to associate with. The Hautboy in the open air is heavenly.

Click here for a previous post about the Orchestra.

The construction of the Organ building, and the installation of the massive organ, resolved the problem of volume, since its range could reach throughout the gardens, and even beyond. Click here for a previous post about the Organ.

Handel and Vauxhall

Squidgeworth found a friend!

Squidgeworth found a friend at the Foundling Museum

Just as Handel’s statue dominated the Grove, his music dominated Vauxhall’s repertory for a hundred years. Handel and Tyers had a mutually beneficial relationship that likely developed into close friendship. Tyers’s press articles tended to focus only on Handel’s music, and the promotion of his music before the crowds of Vauxhall helped him rise to popular fame.

Vocal Music

Due to a concern for propriety, Tyers resisted song at Vauxhall for at least a dozen years. By this time, Vauxhall was being criticized for “the absence of song on the grounds that, without lyrics, music ‘lacked interpretation,’ and was therefore less conducive to good humour among the audience.”

Soon after, Cecilia Young, a soprano who later married Vauxhall’s music director, Thomas Arne, was engaged, and the “introduction of song as a regular element of the programme launched the most perennial popular feature of the Vauxhall evening.”

Thomas_Augustine_Arne_portrait_by_Zoffany

Thomas Arne

Thomas Arne’s ballads “were, from 1745, regularly performed at the gardens to huge applause, and they were published in the first Vauxhall songbook, Lyric Harmony, which appeared in September of that year.” Arne’s songs, which were lighthearted and natural, appealed to a wide array of people, and thus fit in with Tyers’s own philosophy to make the arts available to all.

The lyrics of Vauxhall songs… are basically in the pastoral and romantic ballad style that evolved in the late seventeenth century from a long tradition of popular song… Over the next few decades, ballads absorbed influences from other popular music forms, particularly Italian opera, to become the genre known as the Vauxhall song.

rule_britannia_01a

Thomas Arne’s version of “God Save the King” was first performed at Drury Lane in 1745. He also wrote, “Rule Britannia,” another patriotic song. Click here to hear the latter song on the BBC website. I’m sure you will find it familiar.

A second genre that was to become popular with Vauxhall audiences was the patriotic song, one of the earliest types to be regularly heard at the gardens. Exploiting topical events as they did, they highlighted the link between the dutiful virtus of victorious military action and the pleasurable voluptas enjoyed by Vauxhall’s visitors, fully complementing the ideals behind Tyers’s management.

The songs regularly sung at Vauxhall and the other gardens enjoyed a wide currency. They were published not only as songsheets and in songbooks, but also in periodicals, particularly women’s magazines. Among the moral tales, romances, fashion hints, poetry, recipes and other items thought suitable for female consumption, editors of magazines such as the Ladies Complete Pocket Book or the Universal Magazine would often slip in the ‘favourite new songs’ being featured at the pleasure gardens in the current season, to be enjoyed by Vauxhall’s many “armchair” visitors around the country.

Besides the salary paid by Tyers and passes to allow them to come and go as they wished, “well-loved singers were rewarded by the audience who threw money at their feet.”

A thirty-two-year-old Oliver Goldsmith described a visit to the gardens around 1760, full of praise for the singers and the band.

The satisfaction which I received the first night I went there was greater than my expectations; I went in company of several friends of both sexes, whose virtues I regard and judgments I esteem. The music, the entertainments, but particularly the singing, diffused that good humour among us which constitutes the true happiness of Society.

Music after Jonathan Tyers’s death

After 1761, ownership was taken over by Tyers’s son, Jonathan Tyers the younger, and very little changed at first, until the early 1780’s, when strolling bands were introduced, possibly as an economic gesture, and the quality of music declined.

The introduction of Haydn’s compositions in 1783 marked the faltering start of a new era at Vauxhall. Haydn soon gained a wide following, even toppling Handel from his long-running supremacy.

Regular press advertisements detailing the evening’s program appeared in 1786, when Bryant Barrett, Jonathan Tyers the younger’s son-in-law, took over management of the gardens. Apparently he believed the audience to be more sophisticated about music and thus more interested in knowing beforehand what would be included.

James Hook

James Hook

James Hook, Vauxhall’s music director from the early 1770s until 1821, composed over two thousand songs specifically for Vauxhall and performed an organ concerto every evening at closing time.

…each season introduced an entirely new crop of songs, numbering between thirty and forty-five, with no repeats from previous years; the most popular songs received as many as fifty performances through the season… Most of the half dozen or so singers employed each year appeared every evening, Monday to Saturday, from mid-May to late August. This represented around eighty-five evenings out of a hundred—a tough programme for any performer, especially when singing out of doors.

The Vauxhall Effect

As a music promoter, Tyers was unusual at the time in not being a professional musician himself; it was his judgement and business sense that determined his visitors’ experience, and dictated the selection of people he employed to take his vision forward. The renown of his performers was less important than their ability to express a particular house style.

Performers at Vauxhall

For a list of performers at Vauxhall (musical and otherwise), check this website: Vauxhall Gardens: 1661-1859.

 

Susana’s Vauxhall Blog Post Series

  1. Vauxhall Gardens: A History
  2. Vauxhall Gardens: Jonathan Tyers—“The Master Builder of Delight” 
  3. Vauxhall Gardens: A New Direction
  4. Vauxhall Gardens: The Orchestra and the Supper-Boxes 
  5. Vauxhall Gardens: The Organ, the Turkish Tent, and the Rotunda
  6. Vauxhall Gardens: Three Piazzas of Supper-Boxes
  7. Vauxhall Gardens: “whither every body must go or appear a sort of Monster in polite Company”
  8. Vauxhall Gardens: The Competition
  9. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part I
  10. Vauxhall Gardens: The Artwork, Part II
  11. Vauxhall Gardens: The Music, 1732-1859
  12. Vauxhall Gardens: The Business Side
  13. Vauxhall Gardens: Developments from 1751-1786
  14. Vauxhall Gardens: Thomas Rowlandson’s Painting (1785)
  15. ‎Vauxhall Gardens: The Third Generation of the Tyers Family and the Jubilee of 1786
  16. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part I
  17. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part II
  18. Vauxhall Gardens: An Era of Change (1786-1822), Part III
  19. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part I
  20. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part II
  21. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part III
  22. Vauxhall Gardens: The Final Years, Part IV
  23. Vauxhall Gardens: Farewell, for ever