H+H Blog

Charles Ignatius Sancho: Man of Music and Letters

Charles Ignatius Sancho By Benjamin Pesetsky Sancho’s Early Life Charles Ignatius Sancho (1729–1780) is remembered by the British Library as a “writer, composer, shopkeeper, and abolitionist.” We know a great deal about his life from his letters, with further details provided by a 1782 biography. According to this account, Sancho was born on a slave …

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Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Through the Years

Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Violinist, Fencer, Soldier, and Classical-era Composer of African Descent By Benjamin Pesetsky With thanks to Teresa Neff Joseph Bologne’s Early Life Joseph Bologne (1745–1799), Chevalier de Saint-Georges, held a remarkable number of occupations and positions during his life: composer, conductor, violinist, impresario, champion fencer, military officer, and nobleman. All even …

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Italian Baroque Music: Performances and Patrons

By Benjamin Pesetsky With thanks to Teresa Neff The Italian Baroque Scene Most Italian Baroque music was written for the spare-no-expense world of the aristocracy, particularly in Rome. But that doesn’t mean it was all composed for the same purpose: in fact, there were big differences between music intended for sacred and secular use, as …

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Handel’s Messiah: Fact or Fiction?

By Sally Bradford With thanks to Teresa Neff Few masterworks of Baroque music can rival Handel’s Messiah for its eternal popularity. Many of us are familiar with Messiah, but some may have heard myths and legends about this great work. How many of these questions are you able to answer correctly? 1. Did Handel write …

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Baroque and Classical Music Legends: Corelli and Handel

By Benjamin Pesetsky With thanks to Teresa Neff Rumors and Legends The lives of Baroque and Classical music composers are rich with legends, making it hard to distinguish myth from history. Some misconceptions are modern inventions due to the passage of time, but others actually sprang up during the life of the composer or shortly …

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Music Soothes Through Troubled Times | Q+A with Teresa Neff, PhD

Great music has helped us survive troubled times before. We asked our favorite musicologist, Hogwood Historically Informed Performance Fellow Dr. Teresa Neff, PhD, about H+H’s experience in the 1918 pandemic. Did H+H cancel concerts in 1918? No H+H concerts were cancelled in 1918. The first concert of the season was Messiah, on December 22, 1918. …

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On Being HIP: What is Historically Informed Performance?

H+H follows Historically Informed Performance practices, commonly shortened to HIP. Because H+H performs music from the 17th though the early-19th centuries, current understanding of the musical traditions associated with those centuries underlies any performance decision.

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Wow – What a year at H+H!

Dear Friend of the Handel and Haydn Society, Thank you for being a part of the H+H story this past year. Everyone here deeply appreciates your presence at our concerts, your applause, and your support. As memorable as this year was, and as extraordinary as the performances of our H+H orchestra and chorus were, none of it would have happened without you.

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From the Beauty in Black Artistry Blog: Reggie Mobley and Nigra Sum Sed Formosa

Happy Sunday, everyone! Today’s blog is a guest artist spotlight featuring the esteemed, world-renowned countertenor Reginald Mobley! After starting his classical music career as a member of twice GRAMMY® nominated ensemble Seraphic Fire, Reggie has since appeared with Academy of Ancient Music, Agave Baroque, Bach Collegium San Diego, and The Handel + Haydn Society. With the latter, he had the honor of becoming the first Black person to lead H+H in its Bicentennial year. Recent festival appearances include Bachfest Leipzig, Festival Berlioz, Early Music Vancouver, Thüringer Bachwoche, and the Boston Early Music Festival.

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On Commission

Most composers throughout history have written primarily on commission, or at least with specific ensembles and occasions in mind for the first performances of new pieces. This guarantees that their pieces will be played, and usually ensures that the composer will be paid for them.

Orchestras and choruses commission new works to stimulate the creation of new music, create excitement, and enlarge their repertoire. Commissioning an especially famous composer also brings prestige on an organization.

With that in mind, imagine if H+H had commissioned Ludwig van Beethoven himself. In fact, we tried in 1823, when Samuel Richardson, a founding member of H+H, reached out to Beethoven through a Viennese banker. But the great composer was busy writing his Ninth Symphony and about to embark on his late string quartets. He didn’t accept the commission from the upstart ensemble across the Atlantic, but did remark that he was glad his fame had reached America.

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