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A classic Arcadian cantata from the pen of late-eighteenth-century composer Joseph Harris.


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Joseph Harris was born in Birmingham and spent most of his career working in theMidlands. His first collection of published music, Eight Songs, was published in Ludlow around 1771 when he was the parish organist there. Around this time, he collated a manuscript copy of Handel’s Messiah, now kept at the Lilly Library, Indiana University, which contains a large number of alternative versions of movements, probably as a result of connections with copyists and collectors in Oxford.1 The advertisement for his op. 2 set of keyboard quartets in 1774 described Harris as ‘Bac. Mus, organist in Birmingham’; his degree exercise ‘Milton’s Ode to May’, having been performed at Oxford the previous year. His op. 1 set of songs was published in two further editions (1773 and 1778), and he followed up this success with Twelve Songs, op. 3 in 1779. By this time, Harris was among the most prominent musicians in the region. In 1787 he was teaching Anne Boulton, the daughter of the wealthy and influential Birmingham industrialist, Matthew Boulton; the list of subscribers to his op. 1 set suggests he was the music teacher to numerous other prominent families in the town. Twelve Songs, op. 3, contains a wide variety of settings of pastoral-themed songs. Harris scores each song for a different combination of instruments and gives alternatives and keyboard reductions in many cases. The opening song, Invocation, is unusual for its prominent solo harpsichord part and its through-composed nature which condenses the conventional English cantata structure into one long movement.

Harris - Invocation: 'O Muse Beloved, Calliope Divine!'. Digital Download.

  • Scoring: High Voice, Solo harpsichord, 2 violins, cello.

    Contents: Full score, Voice and solo harpsichord, solo harpsichord, violin 1, violin 2, cello.

    Total pages: 49

    File size: 2.3MB

    Work duration: 4'

    Catalogue number: CK0058

    ISMN: 9790708170570

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