‘Great British Music’ – episode three of David Starkey’s ‘Music and Monarchy’

David Starkey's Music and Monarchy

In the third episode of this series, Dr David Starkey concentrates his investigation into how the Great British music has been influenced by our monarchy by looking at the eighteenth century. The 1700s was a time of economic boom for the British people and the military was a significant source of power.

However, this was a time of great delicacy for our monarchy. The effects of the English Civil War were still apparent. Our monarchy was now being ruled by a foreign family, the Hanoverians, and both the religious and political power of the royals had weakened considerably. Although with this it was in fact a German, George Frideric Handel, who defined Great British music at the time. This highlighted the impact that this new dynasty brought with it throughout the country and through its music. This century also brought with it the national anthem that we still recognise and sing proudly today; at the time it was sung as ‘God Save the King.’

As seen in previous episodes, the Westminster Abbey Choir will enlighten us with performances. Extracts from some of Handel’s numerous pieces of music will also be performed by the Academy of Ancient Music. This episode will also include a recital of ‘Eternal Source of Light Divine’, which was performed in the London Paralympic Opening Ceremony last summer by Elin Manahan Thomas, and was written specially for Queen Anne’s birthday celebrations in 1714.

The choir of St Paul’s Cathedral will also be treating viewers to a rare piece of music which is thought to possibly be the first time it has been performed in over three hundred years. The piece was written in light of the Act of Union of England and Scotland in 1707. Dr Starkey will also be looking at some of the music which reflected George II as a military leader, whilst also learning about the music which was played whilst George I travelled along the Thames.

This episode will be broadcasted on Saturday 3rd August at 8:10pm on BBC Two.

Photo credit: BBC/OFTV/Chris Openshaw