Le retour sur le trône de Charles II en 1660, après la longue période de troubles politiques du Commonwealth, a permis l’épanouissement de la vie artistique londonienne. L’encouragement de la famille royale s’est traduit par le rétablissement de la Chapelle Royale et la création de nouvelles institutions musicales à l’instar des Vingt-Quatre Violons (sur le modèle de ceux de Versailles), entraînant en cela l’afflux de nombreux musiciens de talent. La récente réouverture des théâtres, associée aux frustrations de la période précédente, a entraîné une inflation de spectacles. Il faut ajouter à cela des raisons économiques favorables, dues à un essor considérable du commerce sur la Tamise et le stimulant élan de reconstruction après le grand incendie de Londres en 1666… / With the restoration of the monarchy in the person of Charles II in 1660, and after the long period of political strife that had marked the Commonwealth, artistic life in London began to flourish. The royal family re-established the Chapel Royal and set up various musical institutions, including the Twenty-Four Violins, in emulation of the Vingt-quatre violons of the French king, which drew many talented musicians to the court. The recent re-opening of the public theatres, after the frustrations of the previous period, led to an increase in the number of stage works presented. Furthermore, London, situated on an important waterway, the Thames, was experiencing a period of growing commercial affluence. The capital was being elegantly rebuilt after the Great Fire of 1666…

Henry Purcell's trumpets "From Shore to Shore..." avec l'Ensemble Arianna dirigé par Marie-Paule Nounou

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Comme compositeur, c’est le génial Henry Purcell (vers 1659-1695), qualifié d’« Orpheus Britannicus » par ses contemporains, qui a dominé la période, mais d’autres talents comme ceux de son frère Daniel Purcell (1660-1717), de Jeremiah Clarke (v. 1674-1707) ou d’autres se sont aussi imposés sur les scènes londoniennes. Il y a eu aussi une forte immigration de musiciens du continent qui ont apporté leurs propres styles et influences : les Français James [Jean] Paisible (1650-1721) et Charles [François] Dieupart (v. 1667-1740), le Morave Godfrey [Gottfried] Finger (vers 1660-1730) ou le Napolitain Nicola Matteis (? – v. 1707) pour ne citer qu’eux.

The composer who dominated that period was the brilliant Henry Purcell (c.1659-1695), known to his contemporaries as the ‘British Orpheus’ (‘Orpheus Britannicus’). But others, including Henry’s brother Daniel Purcell (1660-1717) and Jeremiah Clarke (c.1674-1707), also made a name for themselves on the London stage. Moreover, many musicians arrived from the continent in search of fame, fortune and patronage, bringing with them their different styles and influences. Among them were the Frenchmen James [Jean] Paisible (1650-1721) and Charles [François] Dieupart (after 1667-1740), the Moravian Godfrey [Gottfried] Finger (c.1660-1730) and the Neapolitan Nicola Matteis (d. c.1707).
Concerning repertoire, religious music was the preserve of the Chapel Royal. The King’s Music would take part in it, as well as playing odes with singers and musicians for the various court ceremonies (births, coronations, weddings, birthdays, funerals). The theatres presented semi-operas and masques: typically English hybrid genres combining acting, singing and dancing. Instrumental suites, consisting of overtures and interludes taken from such works, were published and played as concert pieces. As regards purely instrumental music, fine trio sonatas in the style of Arcangelo Corelli were performed in the salons of the aristocracy and upper middle classes.

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