Monday, October 04, 2010


Here are some historical tidbits that I have been considering as we have been preparing for this recital tour. Some of them are a bit random, but I've found them fascinating as I have been thinking about these composers and poets and the worlds that surrounded them. Digging deeper and deeper into the emotional core of their works, it never ceases to amaze me how little the human experience has changed over the past 550 years.

1469 Lorenzo de’ Medici takes power in Florence

1475 Michelangelo Buonarroti born in Caprese, Italy

1488 Michelangelo apprenticed to the painter, Domenico Ghirlandaio, in Florence

1490 – 1492 Michelangelo taken in by Lorenzo de’ Medici

1492 Christopher Columbus sails to the New World

1494 Girolamo Savonarola assumes power from the Medici in Florence

1496 Michelangelo moves to Rome

1498 Savonarola executed by order of Pope Alexander VI in Florence

1499 Michelangelo carves the PietĂ 

1503 - 1504 Michelangelo begins composing poetry

Michelangelo completes his sculpture, David

1508 – 1512 Michelangelo paints the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

1532 Michelangelo meets Tommaso de’ Cavalieri

Niccolò Macchiavelli’s The Prince is published

1533 Elizabeth I born in Greenwich Palace, England

1551 Giulio Caccini is born in Rome, Italy

1559 Elizabeth I crowned Queen of England

1564 Michelangelo dies in Rome, Italy – Cavalieri is at his bedside

1567 Claudio Monteverdi is born in Cremona, Italy

1597 The first opera, Jacopo Peri’s Dafne, produced in Florence

1631 John Dryden Born

1642 – 1651 English Civil War

Establishment of the Commonwealth of England

Charles I beheaded in London

1653 Oliver Cromwell becomes “Lord Protector of the Commonwealth”

1659 Henry Purcell born in London, England

1660 Charles II returns to England from exile

1661 Charles II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey

1679 Purcell becomes Organist of Westminster Abbey

1683 Purcell’s Sonatas in III Parts – his 1st printed work – published

James II’s coronation at Westminster Abbey

Johann Sebastian Bach born in Eisenach, Saxe-Eisenach

1688 The Glorious Revolution – James II deposed from the throne

1689 First known performance of Dido and Aeneas

The Bill of Rights passed by English Parliament

Mary II and William III crowned as joint Sovereigns

1691 Purcell composes the music for King Arthur

1692 Purcell composes The Fairy Queen

1694 Purcell writes "Come Ye Sons of Art" for Mary II's 32nd Birthday

Mary II dies of smallpox, Purcell commissioned for Funeral Music

1695 Purcell composes The Indian Queen

2nd Version of If Music be the Food of Love published

Purcell dies and is buried next to the organ at Westminster

1698 First Volume of Purcell's Orpheus Britannicus is published

1702 Second Volume of Purcell's Orpheus Britannicus is published

1838 Victoria crowned Queen of the United Kingdom

1840 Thomas Hardy born in Dorchester, Dorset, United Kingdom

1861 Prince Albert dies

1871 Hardy publishes his first novel, Deperate Remedies

1891 Hardy publishes Tess of the d’Urbervilles

1895 Hardy publishes Jude the Obscure

1898 Hardy publishes his first collection of poetry, Wessex Poems

1901 Queen Victoria dies on the Isle of Wight, United Kingdom

1902 Edward VII’s coronation in Westminster Abbey

1910 Peter Pears born in Farnham, Surrey, United Kingdom

Edward VII dies at Windsor Castle, United Kingdom

1911 George V’s coronation in Westminster Abbey

Gustav Mahler dies in Vienna, Austria-Hungary

1913 Benjamin Britten born in Lowestoft, Suffolk, United Kingdom

Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring premiere causes a riot in Paris

1914 Archduke Franz Ferdinand assassinated in Sarajevo, Austria-Hungary

World War I begins

1917 Russian Empire collapses

1919 Treaty of Versailles is signed

1928 Thomas Hardy dies in Dorchester, Dorset, United Kingdom aged 87

1936 Britten and Pears meet for the first time

Edward VIII abdicates the British Throne to marry Wallis Simpson

1939 Germany invades Poland – World War II begins

Britten and Pears move to the United States

1940 Britten composes Seven Sonnets of Michelangelo, Op. 22

1942 Britten and Pears return to England

1944 The Western Allies invade France

1945 Britten’s opera Peter Grimes premieres at Sadler’s Wells in London

United States drop atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan

World War II ends

1947 The English Opera Group is formed

1953 Britten composes Winter Words, Op. 52

Elizabeth II’s coronation in Westminster Abbey

1961 Britten writes the War Requiem, Op. 66

Bay of Pigs Invasion

1973 Britten completes Death in Venice, Op. 88 – his last opera

1975 Janet Baker premieres Britten’s dramatic cantata, Phaedra, Op. 93

1976 Britten dies in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, United Kingdom

1986 Pears dies in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, United Kingdom

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