Scott L. Edwards
Scott L. Edwards is a Ph.D. candidate at UC Berkeley studying 16th- and 17th-century music.
Articles by this Author
I would have liked to see Davitt Moroney's reaction when it dawned on him precisely what that dusty box of partbooks in the Bibliothèque Nationale contained. As the picture gradually came into focus that this was Alessandro Striggio's long-lost 40- to 60-part Missa sopra "Ecco sì beato giorno," it could not have taken him long to realize that his find would soon generate a buzz in the international music world of unequaled magnitude.
History reserves an important place for composers who have left a monumental legacy. Bach’s cantata cycles and Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelungs are good examples. Among Renaissance composers, both William Byrd and Heinrich Isaac fit that bill well.
It is hard to imagine a musical repertory of more astonishing refinement than the one cultivated at the 15th-century Burgundian courts of Philip the Good and his successor, Charles the Bold. These courts were home to the most esteemed composers of the century, a roster that included among its many members Guillaume Dufay, Binchois, Hayne van Ghizeghem, Nicolas Grenon, Robert Morton, and Jean Molinet.
How to program something novel for the holidays is a challenge almost every choral conductor faces at year's end. Fortunately, there always seems to be an endless supply of untapped or little-heard repertory from which to draw and innumerable ways to combine music from a diverse cross section of centuries or cultures into a satisfying whole.
Liturgical reconstructions usually do not make for successful concerts. So it has been a relief to see this trend in early music performance diminish over the past two decades. The main problems, as performers learned through experience, are length and entertainment value. Polyphonic music was often reserved for the most important feasts of the year, which could last an ungodly number of hours. People who enjoy hearing early music live already spend a lot of time in churches, whether they like it or not.
Despite its rare appearance in concerts today, it takes little effort to grasp why William Boyce's Solomon enjoyed such extraordinary popularity during the second half of the 18th century. Tuneful airs and imaginative instrumental writing brought accolades from British and Irish audiences alike, and the public clamor for editions of the score made multiple print runs a necessity even decades after its London premiere in 1743.