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HomeSearchGetRecordRoyal Society of Musicians (1785-91)

Collection Description

Collection Title
Royal Society of Musicians (1785-91)
Unique Identifier
A collection of programmes and wordbooks for the 2nd to the 6th Grand Musical Festivals [in commemoration of Handel] given by the Royal Society of Musicians at Westminster Abbey between 1785 and 1787 and in 1790 and 1791, held with the programmes and wordbooks for the Grand Musical Festival given by the same organization at the Pantheon Theatre, London in 1788, arranged as six bound volumes (one per season).

At least one of the concerts given during each Westminster Festival consisted of Handel, The Messiah. The remainder were typically described as Selections of Sacred Music. All performances were conducted by Joah Bates and, from 1786, featured Mr John Ashley (assistant conductor).

All programmes provide a list of the Directors of the Festival and, from 1786, the Assistant Directors: the former were noble patrons and the latter were professional musicians. With the exception of those for the 1791 season (see below) all programmes also provide a list of the Benefactors and Subscribers to the Royal Society of Musicians, which includes an introductory statement about the Society and an indication of the amount distributed by it during the previous year.

All wordbooks provide the names of the vocal soloists. During the 1786, 1787, 1790 and 1791 seasons, at least one programme includes a full list of the vocal and instrumental performers.

2, 6, 8 and 11 June 1785
Both the third and fourth performances of this season were of Handel, The Messiah.

31 May and 3, 6 and 8 June 1786
All programmes except the first include lists of the instrumental and vocal/choral performers. The performance on 6 June was of Handel, The Messiah

28 and 31 May and 2 and 5 June 1787
All programmes except the first include lists of the instrumental and vocal/choral) performers. The performances on 31 May and 5 June were of Handel, The Messiah.

16 and 22 May 1788
Only the first of the programmes for this season lists the Assistant Directors. Both performances were two-part concerts entitled ‘Selections of Music from Handel’.

26 and 29 May and 1 June 1790
The programme for the final performance includes lists of the vocal and instrumental performers. The performance on 29 May was of Handel, The Messiah.

23, 26 and 28 May and 1 June 1791
The programme for the first concert includes a list of the Benefactors and Subscribers and that for the last lists the instrumental and vocal performers.The performance on 1 June was of Handel, The Messiah.

Note: a second sequence of programmes for these events is held as R.M.5.b.9-12. Here the programmes/wordbooks are held as individual items but boxed by season. There is no material for the 1786 Festival and the programme for the fourth concert of 1787 is missing.
Date range of collection
1785 - 1791
Accumulation Dates
Suggested Audience
Not Specific
This collection is about

Location Details

British Library
The British Library St Pancras ,96 Euston Road London NW1 2DB
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+44 (0)870 444
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Collections Overview
For details of other collections held at the same location: See the location record

Additional Collection Information

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Management Information (Type)
Collection Owner(s)
Collection Creator(s)
Collection Collector(s)
Collection Custodians(s)
Associated Collection(s)
Cardif University (Prifysgol Caerdydd)Royal College of Music LondonMuseums, Libraries and Archives Council