Music From Monticello

Friday, March 12, 8:00 pm • Christ Church, Cambridge
Saturday, March 13, 8:00 pm • First Parish, Wayland
Sunday, March 14, 3:00 pm • Worcester Historical Museum, Worcester

Love in a Village    trad. counry-dance tune, from Nancy Shepley’s book, c. 1795

Trio Sonata in C Major, op. 4, no. 6    Carlo Antonio Campioni (1720-1788)
  Adagio sempre piano • Allegro• Menuet   

Sonata in C Major for violin and continuo, op. 5, no. 3         Arcangelo Corelli
  Adagio • Allegro • Adagio • Allegro • Allegro   

Mormora il fiumicello    Maria Cosway (1759-1838)
O’er the hills far away         Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791)
Ogni dolce                           Cosway
My Gen’rous Heart disdains           Hopkinson


Sonata in G Major for flute and continuo, op. 2, no. 11     Carlo Tessarini (c. 1690-c. 1766)
  Largo    • Allegro • Largo Affetuoso—Presto   

La De Caze                    Claude-Bénigne Balbastre (1727-1799)
La D’Héricourt  
La Boullongne

The Generous Distress’d        Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778)
Love and Reason inconsistent    
Cloe, Generous as Fair
A Song from Shakespeare’s Cymbeline
The Rose Bud

Pamela Dellal, mezzo-soprano
Suzanne Stumpf, traverso; Julia McKenzie, violin
Daniel Ryan, cello; Michael Bahmann, harpsichord

Program Notes

The extraordinary range of interests and endeavors of Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) is well-documented. In addition to his crucial role in the shaping of a young nation as a statesman and writer, Jefferson was involved in the study of architecture, agriculture, philosophy, and law. The study and practice of music was among his keenest interests—it was shared by his family and was sustained over his entire adult life.

Jefferson was a violinist who was possibly initially self-taught. As a young fiddler in rural Virginia, he would have chiefly been exposed to the country dance repertoire of the day, and by the age of fourteen, he had written favorite fiddle tunes into notebooks. During his years as a student at the College of William and Mary, Jefferson played violin duets with Patrick Henry, and as a young lawyer, played chamber music with other colleagues and participated in the active musical life of Williamsburg. Jefferson married Martha Wayles Skelton in 1772 and in her found an avid musical companion. Martha was an accomplished keyboard player, and the preponderance of music for violin and keyboard in the Jefferson library may be indicative of the repertoire they enjoyed playing together. They were both able to further their musical skill through study with an Italian master of both violin and harpsichord named Francis Alberti who had settled in Charlottesville.

Over the course of his life, Jefferson amassed a large collection of music books and scores. His extensive library included not only works he could have performed with family and friends, but also large-scale works such as Handel’s Coronation Anthems and concertos of Corelli, Vivaldi, and others. Music of earlier composers such as Purcell is represented as well as treatises on music history and theory. Jefferson’s first music collection was entirely destroyed by fire in 1770; and a substantial portion of his second music collection was accidentally burned by a servant of one of his descendants. Fortunately, Jefferson had made a catalog of this second collection in which he also made note of works he wished to acquire.

The violin sonatas of Corelli are among many solo violin works in Jefferson’s library. One of the oldest surviving music books in the collection is a manuscript compilation, partially copied by his wife, which includes a copy of Corelli’s op. 5 no. 12 sonata. Jefferson also owned Walsh’s 1740 edition of the complete Corelli sonatas. The op. 5 no. 3 sonata chosen for this concert is cast in the classic Sonata da Chiesa form of slow-fast-slow-fast with a concluding gigue appended to it. Although the work is one of Corelli’s more overtly virtuosic pieces, one can imagine that it was not beyond Jefferson’s abilities given that his collection contained many more technically demanding works. With regard to how he would have fared with the elaborate improvisational ornamentation required for the sonata’s slow movements, one can speculate that he may have gained knowledge about this style from his teacher Alberti or from a treatise he owned cataloged as “Zuccari’s method of playing Adagios.”

The predominance of Italian music in Jefferson’s library is in general accordance with musical taste in England and America at that time. Other Italian works represented in his library include a collection of flute sonatas by Carlo Tessarini, one of the few selections of wind music acquired by Jefferson. Tessarini was a violin virtuoso active as a performer and teacher in Venice, Brno and Amsterdam. A particularly well-represented Italian composer was Antonio Campioni whose works were highly regarded by Jefferson. Campioni, who from 1763 resided in Florence, was also a violinist and a prolific composer of solos, trio sonatas, and duets which were very popular in England, France, and Holland. He was, in fact, the only composer for whom Jefferson recorded a preference. In copying out some beginnings of Campioni’s works, he wrote “On this paper is noted the beginning of the several compositions of Campioni which are in the possession of T. Jefferson, he would be glad to have everything else he has composed of Solos, Duets, or Trios…” The trio in C Major presented on this program shows the attractiveness of Campioni’s style, displaying originality and vitality in its themes.

The Jeffersons did not limit their musical performances to instrumental works, but enjoyed singing a wide variety of songs, including Scottish airs, drinking songs, psalm tunes, English opera tunes, and pleasure garden songs. A highly successful composer in the last two genres was Thomas Arne, and the Jefferson household held scores of his most popular operas Love in a Village and Thomas and Sally, as well as his collection of Vauxhall ballads Lyric Harmony, selections from which are included in this concert.

A set of songs known to have been sung by family members was composed by Jefferson’s friend and fellow statesman Francis Hopkinson. In 1788, Hopkinson gave Jefferson’s daughter Patsy a copy of his newly-published collection, calling her attention to the “forcibly pathetic” last song “the Traveler benighted and lost.” It reportedly made youngest daughter Polly cry when Patsy sang it.

Jefferson’s 1783 trip to Paris to serve as minister plenipotentiary for the United States proved to be a wonderful opportunity for him to partake of the cultural riches of the city, including its varied musical offerings. In Paris, Jefferson was introduced to the artists Richard and Maria Cosway. Maria, in addition to being a fine painter, was an accomplished singer, harpist, pianist, and composer. She and Jefferson spent many happy days exploring the city and surrounding countryside, and attending the opera and other cultural events. After Jefferson’s return to Monticello, Maria Cosway sent him a copy of her songs and duets.

Soon after his arrival in Paris, Jefferson called upon the prominent opera composer Piccini, enjoying a friendly acquaintance with him and seeking his advice on ordering a harpsichord for his daughter Patsy. Providing good musical education for both daughters had always been important to Jefferson, and while in Paris, he sought out one of the city’s finest harpsichordists, Claude Balbastre, for Patsy’s (and later Polly’s) tutelage. Compositions of Balbastre surely became part of both daughters’ repertory given that they studied with him and that the family owned copies of two of Balbastre’s opuses. Through Balbastre’s compositions, the Jeffersons would have been exposed to one of the last proponents of the French Clavecin school. Balbastre’s expressive exploitation of the rich resonances of the French harpsichord is evident in the three works chosen from his 1759 collection.