John Weldon (1676-1736}

On Thursday 18 March 1700, the London Gazette published a notice announcing a prize competition, with substantial cash awards, and implying a prospect for the contestants of winning the further support of wealthy patrons.  On enquiry, the intending contestants were informed that they were to compose a masque, The Judgment of Paris, a setting of a libretto by William Congreve, which had been specially written for the competition.   

John Eccles, Gottfried Finger, Daniel Purcell and John Weldon became the leading contestants for the composition of the ‘Prize Musick’. Their works were scheduled to be performed on different days: Eccles’s composition on 21 March 1701 at the Dorset Garden Theatre. (As this theatre was by now rather dilapidated. the wealthy subscribers backed their prizes with a timely investment in refurbishing the theatre, so that it would be fit for ‘persons of quality’. Their money paid for a substantial rebuilding of the stage and an ingenious improvement to the auditorium’s acoustic properties).  

John Weldon was awarded the first prize.

Weldon, a former Eton College chorister, studied for a year with Henry Purcell before being appointed organist of New College, Oxford in 1694. As well as wining the first prize, he became a Gentleman Extraordinary of the Chapel Royal. Although the Duke of Bedford sponsored a repeat performance of The Judgment of Paris at the Lincoln’s Inn Theatre in the early months of 1702, Weldon gave up writing for the stage and devoted himself to church music.

 


Wel 1-1

The Judgment of Paris

A Masque

Edited by Michael Pilkington

for soloists: four sopranos, tenor, two baritones, SSTBB chorus and orchestra

Price: £ 16.00

Full Score

The well-known mythical story deals with the quandary of Paris, the exiled son of Priam of Troy and his queen Hecuba. Mercury (Hermes) descends from Olympus, with a command from Jupiter to Paris, that he must award a prize of a golden apple to one of the three goddesses, Juno, Pallas and Venus. Although Paris fears the consequences of exposure to divine beauty, he accepts the god’s invitation to ‘Freely gaze and view all over,/ Thou may\'st every grace discover’. The trio of divine beauties disrobe and describe the respective gifts they might bestow were they to win the golden apple. Juno offers Paris vast wealth, power and limitless joy; Pallas promises the rewards of martial conquest and eternal fame. Venus tells Paris that if he chooses her, he will receive in return the love of the most beautiful woman in the world, Helen of Sparta, wife of Menelaus. The goddess of Love triumphs over her rivals, and Paris, enchanted by the naked Venus, accepts her bribe, (an act that will eventually lead to the calamitous Trojan wars).

Wel 1-2

The Judgment of Paris

A Masque

Edited by Michael Pilkington

Price: £ 2.00

Chorus Score

Wel 1-3

The Judgment of Paris

A Masque

Edited by Michael Pilkington

Trumpet, 2 Recorders, 2 Oboes, Bassoon, Violin 1, Violin 2, Viola, Viol, Cello, Drum, Continuo

Price: £ 10.80

Set of orchestral parts