Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Antonín Dvořák (1841-1904)

Composer

Dvorak crop

His times: Now it’s the Czech Republic; in Dvořák’s time it was Bohemia – an Austrian crown land that was effectively more ‘European’ in a musical sense than it was Slavic.

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Annette Isserlis

Viola

Annette-Isserlis

Annette Isserlis studied at the Royal College of Music, where she now teaches historical performance on baroque and classical viola. 

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Edward Elgar (1857-1934)

Composer

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His times: Elgar was born eight years before the Finn Jean Sibelius, a composer who like many others on the edges of Europe would become associated with musical ‘nationalism’.

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Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)

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His times: Italy succumbed less readily to the excesses and experiments of the Romantic movement than most of her European neighbours, and the result – in a country whose musical life was dominated by opera in the 19th century – was a conservative attitude to the stage in which works tended to be divided into the ‘comic’ and the ‘tragic’ while not stretching far beyond established formulas and aiming for little more than short-term success.

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Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)

Composer

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His times: Charpentier was born in an aristocratic France where music was predominantly heard in the church and stylistically influenced by Italian and German models. Well-to-do Charpentier found himself studying law in Paris and eventually music – or perhaps it was painting to begin with, we don’t really know – in Rome. There he was spotted by the composer Giacomo Carissimi, who became his mentor. Back in France, Charpentier spent 17 years as court composer to Marie de Lorraine before working in a similar post for the Dauphin, son of Louis XIV and then as music master for the Jesuit order in Paris. Eventually he directed music at the Saint-Chapelle, the gothic chapel at the Palais de Justice.

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William Boyce (1711-1779)

Composer

OAE

His times: As was the case for most professional musicians at the time, the church shaped much of William Boyce’s early musical life. He sang at St Paul’s Cathedral in whose shadow he was born, before holding appointments as organist at a number of city churches and becoming Master of the King’s Music.

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Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns

Composer

OAE

His times: In his lifetime, and for many years thereafter, Saint-Saëns was viewed as an upholder of tradition – an arch-conservative with an intense interest in music of the past (much of which, including Bach, he revived for the first time in France). In truth Saint-Saëns was a progressive man, who proved instrumental in dragging the French musical establishment forward: away from the light opera it was so obsessed with and onto song and chamber music. But as a world-famous musician in the 18th and early 19th centuries, Saint-Saëns wrote across the board: operas, concertos, symphonies and instrumental, vocal and chamber music.

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Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880)

Composer

OAE

His times: Offenbach was sent from his native Cologne to study music in Paris, a city that was fast forging a reputation as the world capital of entertainment (risqué, populist and otherwise) and was, for much of the composer’s adult life, under the regime of the Second French Republic and Napoleon III.

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Jean-Phillippe Rameau (1683-1764)

Composer

Jean-Philippe-Rameau

The Man
Rameau was secretive about the first half of his life: it seems that he never imparted any detail of it to his friends or even to his wife. We know he was born in a family of musicians, that his father was his first teacher and that he worked as an organist in some churches, including the one in the Jesuit College where Voltaire was a pupil – a few years later he became the librettist of some of Rameau’s operas.

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Gillian Keith

Soprano

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Many thanks to Gillian, who performed with us yesterday at the Chipping Campden Festival.  What resulted was a glorious performance, on an equally glorious Bank Holiday Monday. 

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Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901)

Composer

Verdi

Himself: Despite his innate musical ability (he began studying music at the age of three), Verdi’s application for the Milan Conservatory was rejected due to his lack of piano technique and discipline. In 1839, he moved to Milan and he had his first success with Nabucco and also his first failure, with the comedy Un giorno di negro. He only composed one other comedy in his career: Falstaff, his last opera.

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Ellie Cowan

Education Officer

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Hi, I’m Ellie, the Education Officer for the OAE.  Thanks to the range of projects we deliver in the Education Department, my day-to-day job can be very different.  From booking players and rehearsal spaces, liaising with schools to organising workshops or trips to the concert hall, collating and organising music for projects, compiling and creating resource packs or pastoral care at our weekly string club, no day is the same. 

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Gavin Edwards

Horn

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Gavin Edwards studied Horn with Anthony Chiddel and Classical horn with Anthony Halstead, at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. After graduating he was appointed as principal horn of the Orchestre Sinfonica de Tenerife. On his return to England he joined the Hanover Band in their recordings of Beethoven’s, Schubert’s and Haydn’s symphonies. From here he started to work mainly in ensembles specializing in “period performance” principally with Sir John Eliot Gardiner, the English Baroque Soloists and, of course, the OAE.

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Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741)

Composer

vivaldi

Vivaldi/The Man
Antonio Lucio Vivaldi was born in Venice.  He was baptized immediately after his birth by the midwife, which led many people to believe his life was somehow in danger.  The real reason is still not known for sure, some argue it was due to ill health while others state that an earthquake the same day led his mother to be in constant fear for her son’s life.  As a result, Vivaldi’s mother dedicated him to the Priesthood.

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Andrew Watts

Bassoon

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Andy Watts began his music career playing medieval and renaissance instruments and clarinet at primary school in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, then took up the modern bassoon at the age of sixteen.

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Lisa Sian

Finance Director

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I’m Lisa the Finance Director and Company Secretary and I started with the OAE way back in July 2003.

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Katy Bell

Press Manager

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Hi, I’m the OAE’s first in house Press Manager, and I’ve been here since 2009, working Monday to Wednesday. 

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Cherry Forbes

Education Director

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Hi I’m Cherry and I’m the OAE’s Education Director.

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Judith Bingham (born 1952)

Composer

JB © Patrick Douglas Hamilton

Her times: Composers of our own time are freer than they have ever been before; free to pursue whatever stylistic paths they like and by whichever means – and largely without fear of discrimination due to race, gender or age. But that comes with its own complications, notably the increased need to write music that serves a purpose and punches through (live or through speakers and headphones) in an age full of noise where much creativity is built on commercial imperatives.

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Tansy Davies (born 1973)

Composer

Tansy Davies © Maurice Foxall

Her times: For the generation of composers who have come to creative maturity since the turn of the millennium, there are no longer any rules and the idea of musical ‘genres’ is eroding fast too. A composer can write on paper, on an instrument or on a computer. The act of composition might be one and the same as the act of performance. You might have trained at a music college or in a rock band.

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