Milestones in Music: Handel and the Violin

Milestones in Music: Handel and the Violin

Public Lecture - Dr David Irving

George Frideric Handel (1685-1759) is renowned primarily as a composer and a keyboardist; we tend to overlook the fact that he began his performance career on the violin, in the Hamburg opera orchestra. Even though the violin soon took second fiddle to the harpsichord and organ, instruments on which the young musician demonstrated his prowess in many different contexts, Handel pushed the violin to new technical heights: he wrote for it as a solo instrument in multiple concertos, suites, and sonatas, in complex obbligatos for operatic arias, and in virtuosic accompaniments for cantatas. At the age of 22, he even dared to show Arcangelo Corelli how to play a phrase, when the venerable violinist was flummoxed by one of Handel’s overtures. Following his move to London, Handel was surrounded by a constellation of great violinists, with whom he performed in many contexts and for whom he wrote many works. This lecture explores Handel’s relationship with the violin, and will be illustrated with musical examples.

Dr David R.M. Irving

Dr David R.M. Irving is an ethnomusicologist, cultural historian, and performer. Having studied violin and musicology at the Queensland Conservatorium and the University of Queensland, he completed his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. He held several posts at Cambridge, King’s College London, and the University of Nottingham before moving to ANU in July 2013. As a baroque violinist, he has worked with many leading early music orchestras in Australia and overseas.

His research revolves around the role of music in intercultural exchange, colonialism, and globalisation from c.1500 to c.1900, with a particular focus on Southeast Asia. His first book, Colonial Counterpoint: Music in Early Modern Manila (Oxford University Press, 2010), examined musical practices in the Philippines under Spanish colonial rule between 1565 and 1815 (the period of the trans-Pacific galleon trade), and was named one of eighteen ‘Books of the Year’ by BBC History Magazine in December 2010. He has published numerous articles and book chapters, and in 2010 the Royal Musical Association awarded him the Jerome Roche Prize ‘for a distinguished article by a scholar in the early stages of his or her career’.

His current work explores the impact of Portuguese, Dutch and British colonialism on the musical traditions of the Malay-Indonesian Archipelago, c.1500–c.1850. This forms part of the collaborative project ‘Musical Transitions to European Colonialism in the Eastern Indian Ocean’ (on which he is a Visiting Fellow), funded by the European Research Council and based at King’s College London. He is also writing a book on European music and globalisation in the early modern world.

All $6.00 tickets include a complimentary glass of champagne

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