Musical contribution - June 2017

Air - Samuel Wesley (1766-1837)

Because Samuel Wesley came from a well-known musical family, it’s important not to confuse him with the other members of the family. He was the son of Charles and the father of Samuel Sebastian. The Wesley featured this month was a conductor, teacher, composer and organist. William Boyce is said to have exclaimed to Wesley’s father: ‘Sir, I hear you have an English Mozart in your house!’ Samuel was a transitional figure between the Baroque and Romantic periods.

Although he was known to be an excellent improviser, he was never able to hold a great post as organist. He did leave more than 120 organ pieces, however most of these have unfortunately been lost.

This month we are featuring a sweet ‘Air’. It has a beautiful melody that leads, alternating between the Great and the Choir. The composer prescribes a “Claribel” (a velvety open) Flute on the Great and a Clarinet on the Choir. If these aren’t present, another small reed is naturally just as good.

This ‘Air’ is often combined with another work by Samuel Wesley. We’ll come back to that another time.

With musical regards,

André van Vliet

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