Author Topic: Thomas Linley Jr.  (Read 3410 times)

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Elgarian

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Thomas Linley Jr.
« on: April 11, 2010, 12:43:24 PM »
It's funny how things work out. One of my favourite places on earth is Bath; and one of my favourite pastimes is walking its streets and feeling the almost tangible presence of its history. Walk around the Circus, and you'll pass Thomas Gainsborough's house:



(It's one of those behind the trees.) I like to linger outside his door - it's easy to imagine it opening, and him striding out, perhaps to walk along the Royal Crescent just a minute or two away:



He did that walk a lot, because he would call to see his friends the Linleys, who lived at no. 11 Royal Crescent: there was Thomas Sr, a prominent musician about town; his daughter Elizabeth - a soprano of renown and stunningly beautiful, who scandalously eloped with Richard Sheridan; and (among others) Thomas Junior - who met Mozart  in 1770, in Italy, and the two lads got on famously. Sadly, Thomas's promising musical career was brought to an untimely end at the age of 22 in a fatal boating accident.

Now I've walked this walk, following in the footsteps of Gainsborough and the Linleys, many times, but it never occurred to me till now to wonder about what Thomas's music was like. And recently I discovered that Hyperion, bless 'em, have done him proud. So I've been listening to these bargain price CDs on the Helios label:



And I must say, I'm finding them truly delightful. There are a couple of duets on the Moses disc, for instance, that Julia Gooding and Sophie Daneman sing exquisitely well. The music for The Tempest is gorgeous. Linley was talked about as potentially 'the English Mozart', and there's a vitality in these works that makes such a comment understandable. Most particularly, though, I'm aware of how much my affection for these pieces must be governed by extra-musical concerns. I've seen what Tom saw every day; walked the same flagstones, breathed the same elevated air, high above the grassy slopes of the park. And it makes a difference. I feel as if I'm listening to music composed by someone I know. If this music had been written by John Smith of Birmingham, would I feel such an affinity for it? I don't know; probably not.

Not that I care much. I love it when all these things come together and produce this kind of multidimensional experience.

Offline Sergeant Rock

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Re: Thomas Linley Jr.
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2010, 01:15:45 PM »
Linley: a composer I know not at all. Thanks for the history and the guided tour. I'll check him out.

Sarge
the phone rings and somebody says,
"hey, they made a movie about
Mahler, you ought to go see it.
he was as f*cked-up as you are."
                               --Charles Bukowski, "Mahler"

Offline Luke

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Re: Thomas Linley Jr.
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2010, 09:49:06 PM »
A few years ago I found the whole Thomas Linley story absolutely fascinating, the sort of thing someone ought to write a novel about....the parallels with Mozart, the two boys meeting almost symbolically in Italy in their teens, but Linley's life cut short (even short than Wolfgang's!) in such a terrible way....anyway, I brought a few discs of which this one is undoubtedly my favourite. It return to it often:



The four almost unknown concerti on this disc are uniformly delightful, and the Linley in particular is very special, I think, with a kind of knowing play with music types (those deliberatley archaic, grand cadences....) that shows true originality and control. I even went so far, for a composiional project I was planning at the time, as to attempt to transcribe the score of the beautiful, scotch-snap-infested slow movement by ear alone, as I couldn't find a copy in print. It would be interesting to see how close I got! That melody is going round in my head as I type this...

Elgarian

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Re: Thomas Linley Jr.
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2010, 10:56:51 PM »
A few years ago I found the whole Thomas Linley story absolutely fascinating, the sort of thing someone ought to write a novel about....the parallels with Mozart, the two boys meeting almost symbolically in Italy in their teens, but Linley's life cut short (even short than Wolfgang's!) in such a terrible way....
Yes, definitely a novel waiting to be written there. I wonder if you've encountered the book published in 1988 by Dulwich Art Gallery, which was written to accompany an exhibition there? It was called 'A Nest of Nightingales: Gainsborough and the Linleys'. A collection of essays and a catalogue combined together - obviously, more about Gainsborough's art than Linley's music. 120+ pages, lots of pictures.

Quote
I brought a few discs of which this one is undoubtedly my favourite. It return to it often:

Thanks for the recommendation. It's next on my list of 'things to get'.

Offline Luke

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Re: Thomas Linley Jr.
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2010, 11:43:03 PM »
Yes, definitely a novel waiting to be written there. I wonder if you've encountered the book published in 1988 by Dulwich Art Gallery, which was written to accompany an exhibition there? It was called 'A Nest of Nightingales: Gainsborough and the Linleys'. A collection of essays and a catalogue combined together - obviously, more about Gainsborough's art than Linley's music. 120+ pages, lots of pictures.

No, I haven't - it sounds fascinating. That whole Bath musical scene is rich with interest, isn't it? Of course there's also German-born William Herschel, friend of the Linleys and major member of their circle, sometime composer, but more famously the astronomer who discovered Uranus...I'm sure he could have an interesting bit-part in the novel too!

Elgarian

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Re: Thomas Linley Jr.
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2010, 09:05:50 AM »
No, I haven't - it sounds fascinating. That whole Bath musical scene is rich with interest, isn't it? Of course there's also German-born William Herschel, friend of the Linleys and major member of their circle, sometime composer, but more famously the astronomer who discovered Uranus...I'm sure he could have an interesting bit-part in the novel too!
Yes, I think our proposed novel could have an endless stream of cameo appearances by interesting famous people!

I always find myself struggling to grasp, as an imaginative exercise, just how bang up to the minute everything would have seemed to them as they went about their lives. What to us is coloured with the passage of centuries would have been nothing of the sort to them. Beau Nash had died only relatively recently; Bath was becoming one of the most important modern cities in England; the buildings were new, not hallowed with the golden stain of time as we see them today; Herschel was at the cutting edge of scientific discovery; Gainsborough was similarly pushing the boundaries of his art, and starting to turn sprigs of broccoli into landscapes; and young Tom Linley was looking forward to a brilliant career in music that (as we know) was never to be.

For those who've never heard Tom's tunes, here are lots of samples on the Hyperion website:

Violin concerto:
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDH55260&f=linley

The Tempest and other theatre music:
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDH55256&f=linley

The Song of Moses:
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDH55302&f=linley

Shakespeare Ode:
http://www.hyperion-records.co.uk/al.asp?al=CDH55253&f=linley