John Blow & Henry Purcell

German Baroque Harp by Claus Hüttel - Photo: André Wagenzik

30 November -1 December 2019
John Blow & Henry Purcell

Weekend with Frédérique Brillouin and Michael Dollendorf

In our second Workshop for Baroque orchestra we play English music and have chosen a suite from the 'Fairy Queen' and some theatre-music.

After the Restauration under Charles II the theatre offered many opportunities for invention and composers like Blow (1649-1708) and Purcell (1659-95) were very involved with it.

The royal family had spend the years in exile in the Low Countries and in France and brought with them musicians and instruments from these areas. The latest inventions like French woodwind instruments and double-headed 12-course lutes became popular right away.

The orchestra was build from violins and viols of all sizes, theorbos, guitars, flutes, recorders, oboes and bassoons. For court entertainments the musicians played in the palaces, the gardens and for opera performances.


Parallel there is a workshorp for continuo playing on theorbo, lute and Baroque guitar. In the afternoons we join forces and play together.

We work at the modern neo-baroque standard pitch of 415 Hz, since most players will have instruments at this pitch, even though it is quite different from French/English pitch. In Versailles the chamber-pitch was around 400 Hz and the opera-pitch somewhat below 390 Hz. French woodwind makers who came to work in England, like Peter Bressan, made their instruments at these pitches or just a little higher.

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