Matthew Locke was born in Exeter, Devon and trained as a chorister at the Cathedral there. He lived through the English Civil War and left the country in favour of the Netherlands at the age of eighteen. After returning to England, he and his friend Christopher Gibbons wrote the score to various plays and operas, including Cupid and Death by James Shirley. He then went on to serve King Charles, as Composer of the Wind Music and Composer for the Violins. The successor for this role was none other than Locke’s childhood friend; Henry Purcell and it’s believed that Locke may have had some influence on the young Purcell.
Not much is written about Locke as a person, but it’s believed that he had very long wavy hair and wore a tiny beard, no bigger than that of a child’s thumb print. In June last year, Exeter Cathedral took down one of their organs and, in doing so, found graffiti left by a teenager Matthew Locke. As you might imagine, this was very exciting for all involved (until they covered it up again with a new organ). You can watch a short video about it here.
Today Locke’s instrumental music is considered to be among the finest of the 17th century and his Melothesia treatise was one of the earliest English works to deal with Certain General Rules for playing upon a Continued Bass.
You can hear music from Locke’s Tempest, along with music from John Blow and Purcell at The Night Shift this Thursday at The Old Queen’s Head.
BOOK TICKETSRead More
The Man: Beethoven’s father Johann is known to have been an alocholic who was abusive towards him as a child. Johann would force the young Ludwig to practice all of the time, slamming the piano cover on his knuckles if he made a mistake and providing little to no positive reinforcement if he got it right.
Ludwig knew from the age of 26 that he had problems with his hearing and by the end of his life he was completely deaf. It’s thought that this made him irritable, over-sensitive, petulant and withdrawn. But throughout all that, he remained ever sure of himself.Read More
Zeb Soanes is a familiar voice across the BBC. He is a Radio 4 Newsreader for those who wake up to The Today Programme and puts the nation to bed with the Shipping Forecast.Read More
She Makes War is the gloom-pop solo project of Bristol based multi-instrumentalist, visual artist and digital polymath Laura Kidd, whose independent albums “Disarm” and “Little Battles” and latest release “The Butterflies Audiovisual EP” have gained her an ardent international following.Read More
The Boy Dan Good AKA Daniel Benedictus is a presenter and producer at Absolute Radio, and spends most of his waking life talking or playing music.Read More
Up and coming singer/songwriter Taube Brahms has already started making a name for herself on the London music scene.Read More
Biber was born on a large estate in 1644, in the small town of Waternberg, where his father was the huntsman.
Self taught singer-songwriter Jessica Irvine has played in London, New York and Northern Queensland.Read More
Described as ‘The sound of two worlds colliding’ by Marc Riley of 6Music, Chips For The Poor have been making a name for themselves on the London music scene for a while. Harder to pin down than a giraffe, their love for the obscure conjures up images of a future imagined in the 80′s. As the National Student put it “If you enjoy musical safety, then avoid Chips for the Poor like the plague.”
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 isn’t known for sure, it could be that he was ill or another theory is that an earthquake that day caused his mum to be paranoid. Either way, she’s said to have dedicated him to the priesthood because of it. Cheers Mum.
Nicky Phillips has been described as ‘a folk siren who specialises in intensely personal, confessional songwriting’. Her songs tell of the usual tales of love and heartbreak, alongside a selection of songs that explore more unusual topics such as time, wine and the Piccadilly Line.Read More
Unlike Mozart who was born into music, George Frideric Handel was born into a family that weren’t fussed about it at all. His father, a barber surgeon who wanted him to study law, forbade him from playing music. Unperturbed, Handel snuck a clavichord (a sort of early keyboard) upstairs to the top room in the house and would play it up there whenever his family were asleep.Read More
Last Summer’s Tealights might sound like a weird cocktail and in a way it is. Set to start things off at tonight’s Night Shift, this musical ensemble fuse jazz harmonies with a potent sense of nostalgia and are the perfect intro as we return to our Queen Elizabeth Hall home, at Southbank Centre.Read More
Mozart was born in Salzburg, Austria, on 27 January 1756 and christened under the name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart (bit unoriginal). His dad was called Leopold Mozart and taught his children to play harpsichord, organ and violin.
At 5, Mozart wrote his first composition and two years later, the Mozart children went on their first concert tour, a bit like the Jackson 5.
Evidence suggests Haydn was a pretty nice chap; a modest but patriarchal man, who was fiercely individual to the point of occasional loneliness. His practical joking has been overplayed, but Haydn clearly liked a laugh – after all, he got on famously with that childish prankster Mozart. After struggling for years as a freelancer, when Haydn found success he became greedy and ruthless in terms of business. However, in dealings with relatives and servants, and in volunteering his services for charitable concerts, Haydn was always remembered as a generous man.Read More
Luigi Boccherini/The Man
Born in the Tuscan city of Lucca in 1743, Boccherini studied the cello in Rome and soon joined his Double Bassist father and musical siblings in several tours around Europe – a bit like a classical music version of the Jackson Five really. When his father died, the young Luigi spent some time in Paris before the City of Romance worked its magic and he fell in love with a soprano – bringing him to Spain. Whilst there Boccherini landed Royal patronage, only to be later sacked for failing to act on some constructive criticisms of his compositions. Though he would go on to be supported by a string of other wealthy patrons, his good times didn’t last. At the time of his death in 1805, he was living in Madrid in near-poverty, having lost many of those nearest to him.
Luigi Boccherini/The Music
Much of Boccherini’s music owes a lot to Haydn in its structure- he was known popularly as ‘Haydn’s wife’, but Boccherini was also known for giving his starring roles to the cello. He wrote around 141 string quintets alone (music for two violins, viola and a cello) and the quintet you’ll hear this evening- his “Musica notturna delle strade di Madrid” might sound familiar- it was in the 2003 film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.Read More
Domenico Dragonetti/ The Man
Aside from the fantastic name, Dragonetti was an amazing double bassist. Born to a barber and amateur musician in 1763, he hailed from Venice and incredibly had mastered the double bass at the tender age of 12 and was appointed principal player at the Opera Buffa in Venice the following year.
Dragonetti rose to fame by playing solo pieces (über-unusual at the time) at the Chapel of San Marco in Treviso, as well as playing and composing for royalty and directing festivals. He finally moved to London in 1794 to play in the King’s Theatre Orchestra where he also waxed lyrical about the double bass to Haydn and Beethoven.
Dragonetti loved the fine arts and collected musical instruments and scores, as well as a slightly more unusual collection: he apparently travelled with small dolls that he brought along to his concerts as an ‘audience’, even introducing one as his wife- but don’t quote us on that! He died at his Leicester Square home at 83.
Domenico Dragonetti/ The Music
Dragonetti was probably best known for developing the double bass line as a separate entity- before this, the instrument usually imitated the cello part.
Not content with this, he also developed the Dragonetti bow- an Italian bow which puts the springiest part of the bow in the middle of the stick, giving more energy to the sound.
Yes, it might look a bit like a hacksaw but definitely doesn’t make a noise like one, as you’ll hear on the night.
Dragonetti wrote an instruction book for double bass which was unfortunately sold and lost but much of his music still remains in the British Library, including concertos, twelve waltzes for solo double bass and a bass quintet for violin, 2 violas and a cello.Read More
Thomas Arne/The Man
The young Arne was in training with a law practice for 3 years after leaving school, until his father finally realised his potential and allowed him to pursue music. Arne was a Catholic, and is the reason why he never composed any sacred music for the Church of England.
Thomas Arne/The Music
Arne’s music hardly needs an introduction. The composer of both Rule, Britannia and God, Save the King, we’ve all heard, sang, hummed or whistled these tunes at some point in our lives.
He will always be remembered as the Rogers & Hammerstein of his day, as the leading British composer of plays, masques, pantomime and opera.Read More
John Blow/ The Man
Famous for teaching Purcell, being James II’s private musician and for landing his very first job as organist at Westminster Abbey, John Blow was born into humble origins in Nottingham in 1649. He was known for his sharp temper, handsome features and decency of character.Read More
Avison / The Man
A Geordie through and through, Charles Avison was born in Newcastle in 1709. Studying with the Italian Geminiani in London, the nostalgic Avison cut this study short and returned to his home city in the north where he remained for the rest of his life. Opinionated and proud, Avison didn’t have a good word to say about the newly naturalised Brit, Georg Frederic Handel, who was fast gaining an heroic status.
Avison was caught in a blizzard in 1770 and diedRead More