Johann Christoph Pepusch (1667-1752)

Pepusch left his native Germany to settle in England and was certainly in London by 1704. He was at first employed as a viola player and later as harpsichordist at the Drury Lane Theatre. There he collaborated with several of the leading literary figures of the day in the production of a series of masques. Among these was Venus and Adonis, whose success did much to establish his reputation in the London musical world.

William Croft, Pepusch was awarded the degree of Doctor of Music at Oxford in 1713. He served for about 20 years as musical director to the Duke of Chandos at Cannons, and wrote a considerable amount of church music for the chapel there. Handel was also at Cannons during Pepusch's period as director, but his position there was as resident composer. Around 1726 the Academy of Ancient Music was established, and Pepusch was among the 13 founder-members. Later in 1735, he became its director and under him a series of subscription concerts was given, which featured a number of distinguished musicians, including Handel and Geminiani. Pepusch's name is strongly associated with the Beggar's Opera, to which he contributed the overture and the song-settings. This piece was such a popular success that it has perhaps overshadowed Pepusch's other achievements, which include a considerable number of instrumental works, as well as the church music and stage works referred to.


Pep 1

Five Cantatas with Recorder

for soprano/tenor (c'-a''), recorder, and bc

Price: £ 11.60

Corydon
Love frowns in beateous Myra's Eyes
Cleora sat beneath a shade
When Loves soft passion
Menalcas once the gayest Swain

These five English cantatas are elegant and entertaining pieces; the characters Corydon, Menalcas , Thyrsis, from Virgil's Georgics are joined by nymphs and shepherds from the English madrigal tradition. While all the cantatas can be sung by a soprano, No 2, Love frowns in beauteous Myra's eyes, and No 4, When Love's soft passion would also be appropriate for a tenor, because of the 'persona' of the singer.

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Pep 2

Aria: Oh I feel the friendly blow

from The Death of Dido, 1716

for soprano, recorder, strings and bc

Price: £ 5.50

Johann Pepusch collaborated with several of the leading literary figures of the day in the production of a series of masques. Among these was Venus and Adonis, whose success did much to establish his reputation in the London musical world, and another was The Death of Dido, which was performed at Drury Lane Theatre in 1716, and from which the present recitative and aria is taken.

This short aria from The Death of Dido is a small masterpiece which deserves an honourable place among the laments inspired by the tragedy of Dido's love for Aeneas.

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Pep 3A

The Death of Dido

A Masque - Score

for SSMT soloists and orchestra

Price: £ 14.00

Johann Pepusch collaborated with several of the leading literary figures of the day in the production of a series of masques. Among these was Venus and Adonis, whose success did much to establish his reputation in the London musical world, and another was The Death of Dido, which was performed at Drury Lane Theatre in 1716. The manuscript source for The Death of Dido is in the Royal Academy of Music, and the assistance of the Librarian in making a copy of this available is gratefully acknowledged.
The instrumentation is not always clearly specified, as for example in the opening Symphony. However, a score and a set of parts prepared for the revival of Venus and Adonis at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1718/9 is held in the library of the Royal College of Music, and we are grateful to the Librarian for making these available for study, and for Peter Holman’s suggestion that these be looked at. Although the resources at Drury Lane Theatre may have differed from those at Lincoln’s Inn Fields a few years later, it is felt that these parts give valuable guidance to the performance of the present work.
Accordingly, the orchestral parts provided allow for oboes doubling violins and bassoon doubling basses in tutti passages, and where necessary, for the wind instruments either to transpose up an octave, or to double the voice part in order to fit their range. Some editorial suggestions have been made for variation in instrumentation.

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Pep 3B

The Death of Dido

A Masque - orchestral parts

for SSMT soloists and orchestra

Price: £ 14.00

Johann Pepusch collaborated with several of the leading literary figures of the day in the production of a series of masques. Among these was Venus and Adonis, whose success did much to establish his reputation in the London musical world, and another was The Death of Dido, which was performed at Drury Lane Theatre in 1716. The manuscript source for The Death of Dido is in the Royal Academy of Music, and the assistance of the Librarian in making a copy of this available is gratefully acknowledged.
The instrumentation is not always clearly specified, as for example in the opening Symphony. However, a score and a set of parts prepared for the revival of Venus and Adonis at Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1718/9 is held in the library of the Royal College of Music, and we are grateful to the Librarian for making these available for study, and for Peter Holman’s suggestion that these be looked at. Although the resources at Drury Lane Theatre may have differed from those at Lincoln’s Inn Fields a few years later, it is felt that these parts give valuable guidance to the performance of the present work.
Accordingly, the orchestral parts provided allow for oboes doubling violins and bassoon doubling basses in tutti passages, and where necessary, for the wind instruments either to transpose up an octave, or to double the voice part in order to fit their range. Some editorial suggestions have been made for variation in instrumentation.

Pep 4

Britannia & Augusta

An Ode

with an Introduction by Peter Holman

Three scores and set of parts

for two sopranos (d'-a''), two recorders/oboes, strings and bc

Price: £ 16.00

Britannia and Augusta is one of Pepusch’s first major works. It is a setting of an elegiac ode by John Hughes (1667-1720) in memory of William Cavendish, fourth Earl and first Duke of Devonshire (1641-1707). Cavendish, a prominent Whig politician who played an important role in bringing about the Glorious Revolution of 1688, died in London on 18 August 1707 and was buried on 1 September at All Hallows, Derby. Hughes, a Whig writer and associate of Addison and Steele, provided Pepusch with many texts to set, including no fewer than twelve cantatas and the masque Apollo and Daphne (1707). Cavendish was interested in literature and music, and would have probably have come into contact with both poet and composer at literary gatherings or concerts. We know from the printed text that Britannia was sung by Margherita de l’Epine (Pepusch’s future wife) and Augusta by Catherine Tofts, and from Hughes’s correspondence that the venue was Stationers’ Hall; no record of the performance has survived, but it was presumably during the autumn of 1707. Given that the singers and the composer were members of the Italian opera company, then being formed, it is likely that the accompaniment was also provided by members of its future orchestra.

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Sample page: download