Richard Leveridge (1670-1758)

Born in London, Leveridge became a theatre singer in 1695, in time to collaborate with Henry Purcell on The Indian Queen, in which he sang the imposing song ‘Ye twice ten hundred deities’. Two years later he collaborated with Daniel Purcell and Jeremiah Clarke to compose The Island Princess, which continued to be revived until 1739. Also in 1697 he published the first of his various songbooks: altogether he composed some 150 songs, the last of them published in 1753 in his retirement; he also wrote English words to a number of tunes and arias by Geminiani, Handel (see No. 9) and others.

In 1702 Leveridge wrote some effective music for Macbeth, which continued to be revived well into the 19th century, albeit misattributed to Matthew Locke. In the ensuing years he started to sing roles — usually comic — in Italian-style operas; in 1712 he sang a season for Handel’s company. Two years later he moved to Lincoln’s Inn Theatre, and when they met financial troubles he ran a coffee-house in Covent Garden for some years. In 1723 he returned to the stage as the principal bass at Lincoln’s Inn and then also Covent Garden theatre, often singing dramatic roles such as magicians and conjurors, as well as in pantomime-like afterpieces.


Lev 1

Twenty-one Songs

for Bass (F-f#') and continuo

Edited by Timothy Roberts

Price: £ 15.50
  1. If Celia you had youth at will
  2. Love is lost
  3. When Cupid from his mother fled
  4. Pretty Poll
  5. Jenny long resisted
  6. The Fisherman's Song
  7. The Jogging Song
  8. Iris beware when Strephon pursue you
  9. The Founder of the Feast
  10. Good Advice
  11. The Cuckow
  12. Advice
  13. The Lover Resolved
  14. The Cure of Care
  15. Who is Silvia
  16. Truth
  17. Lay aside the reap-hook, plough and cart
  18. Sure ne'er was a dog so wretched as I
  19. Sweet are the charms of her I love
  20. Chloe my breast did fire
  21. Small is the spot of earth, poor man

Leveridge often composed in a simple ballad style, and these songs — with new words — were often incorporated into ballad operas. He could also compose in a more florid style, particularly notable in his earlier songs. While his gift was primarily literary and melodic, he also wrote good bass lines, sometimes with harmonies that suggest an archaic or rustic character.

This anthology has been compiled specifically for singers of Leveridge’s own type, that is, baritones and basses. All the texts selected are suitable for a man, even where (Nos. 5 and 7, both of them mildly racy) they were originally sung by a woman. None of the composer’s manuscripts have survived. In the printed editions most of the songs appear, as was normal, with the vocal line in treble clef and in keys suitable for soprano/tenor – even where (as in Nos. 6 and 8) it is indicated that Leveridge himself was the singer. In the present edition, all but one of the songs have been transposed downwards, and the voice part put an octave lower in the bass clef.

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